National organisation Women in Politics (WIP) is opening up its membership to non-elected women to try and attract more women to run for elected office.

WIP founder and chairwoman, and recently re-elected Hamilton City councillor, Angela O'Leary says men are also being encouraged to join as associate members.

"Husbands, fathers and sons all have women in their life who may have shown an interest in running for elected office so we are looking at them to encourage those women and provide a support base," Ms O'Leary said.

Former MP and current Hamilton City councillor Martin Gallagher is supportive of the organisation.


"As a parent I strongly believe we need to be encouraging our talented daughters to stand for public office," he said.

This year's local body elections have attracted just 29 per cent of female candidates.

Figures show since the 2007 local elections the percentage of female candidates has remained static.

During this election Ms O'Leary met with two women who had decided to run and had announced their candidacy but then pulled out just before nominations opened.

"Talking to them afterwards they felt there was not a lot of information about what the job actually entails, in practical terms. Adding to that the challenge of being thrust into the public arena without that knowledge made them reconsider," she said.

"While I believe women are more inclined to get involved with local community issues and are more likely to vote (Statistics NZ media release September 19), they just aren't standing. We have to find out why - and then do some pretty serious work to change that.

"We want to connect with potential future elected women much earlier leading up to an election and having associate members will further provide those opportunities. Access and networking opportunities with elected women throughout New Zealand, receiving our newsletters and access to our events will be some of the key benefits to the new membership. We'll also be about to connect potential future leaders with currently elected women to mentor and support them into politics."

Women in Politics is a not for profit, non-partisan incorporated society, which aims to increase the number of elected women in local and central government.

People interested in becoming an associate member should go to WIP's Facebook page or visit