Women and Politics: Reflections on Women’s Suffrage Day

Kate Sheppard Memorial in Christchurch

We are lucky to belong to a nation where women not only have the right to move around freely and speak up in public, but also to be elected to  Parliament  and to become Prime Ministers.

One hundred and twenty-four years ago , on 19 September  1893,  women gained the right to vote in New Zealand, and 10 weeks later 84% of those eligible cast their votes. 

Today we acknowledge the women who led the campaign which led to our present rights. Here are some of them, as memorialised on the Kate Sheppard Memorial in Christchurch, above:

  • Meri Te Tai Mangakahia of Taitokerau who requested the vote for women from the Kotahitanga Maori Parliament.
  • Amey Daldy a foundation member of the Auckland WCTU and president of the Auckland Franchise League.
  • Kate Sheppard of Christchurch, the leader of the suffrage campaign.
  • Ada Wells of Christchurch who campaigned vigorously for equal educational opportunities for girls and women.
  • Harriet Morison of Dunedin, vice president of the Tailoresses’ Union and a powerful advocate for working women.
  • Helen Nicol who pioneered the women’s franchise campaign in Dunedin.

We also salute the large number of women standing for election in the current campaign,  and celebrate  the possibility that we may soon have a Parliament where at least half our elected politicians are women.  Perhaps, too, and soon, the Prime Minister will once again be a woman!  Good luck, Jacinda Ardern…

 

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