The only millennial Cabinet Minister Nikki Kaye didn't hesitate when she was asked whether she was a feminist.

Standing beside the woman she's being groomed to succeed as Education Minister Hekia Parata she replied with an emphatic yes.

Parata wasn't prepared to embrace the label though, declaring she's a very strong woman who doesn't need anyone's political definition of what a feminist is.

She has her own decision making powers and she exercises them, she added, leaving those around her a little confused.


This from a woman who her old boss John Key once anointed as one of his most effective communicators.

The equally loquacious Amy Adams, standing within earshot, was asked the same question on International Women's Day, and bubbled that she considered herself one, although different people have different views on what feminism means, she mused. To her it means women can do anything, have the right to do anything and shouldn't have anyone telling them how to lead their lives.

Now surely that would fit in with the views expressed by the former Minister of Women's Affairs Louise Upston who said she wasn't a feminist in one breath but in another said she thought beauty pageants were a good thing because they gave women confidence.

Of course she was replaced by Paula Bennett, who sought the portfolio even though she's not a die hard one, saying she's a feminist most days.

Those days are no doubt dealing with her boss Bill English who grew up at the knee of his politically charged late mother Norah, who founded the Farm Workers' Association in Dipton and who in her day would most certainly have been seen as a feminist, although the term would have been unfamiliar to those in the deep south who'd have preferred the description stroppy sheila.

Her son Bill, who down south was known as a good bugger, doesn't see himself as a feminist because he doesn't know what one is.

On the days Paula Bennett is a feminist she might like to do something tangible about what she claims is her top priority rather than simply talking about closing the 12 percent gender pay gap, which cuts to the very heart of what a feminist is.

And for those who're confused as to what the term means, and at Parliament there appears to be a lot of them, it's quite simple. It's a belief that women and men have equal rights and opportunities and are treated as intellectual and social equals.

Clearly, we've still got a long way to go.