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History series - Women’s Suffrage

 

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We are blessed to have equal voting rights, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Let’s go back in time.

It’s the 1890’s. In this era cars are called automobiles, radioactivity is first identified, and Sherlock Holmes has only just been published. New opportunities are emerging for women in education, medicine, church and charitable work. 

In New Zealand a particular woman, arises as a trailblazer, an activist and a leader – Kate Shepherd. You can find her picture on our ten-dollar note.  

For years Kate Shepherd and fellow campaigners labored long and hard to compile a series of massive petitions calling on Parliament to grant women the right to vote.  It had been a huge struggle – but now the petitions were signed, the votes were in, and on 8th September, 1893…  the bill was passed by 20 votes to 18. New Zealand became the first nation in the world to give women the vote. Victory was celebrated throughout the nation. Letters poured in from Britain, Australia, the United States and elsewhere. One woman wrote: -

 “New Zealand’s achievement gave new hope and life to all women struggling for emancipation”

Most other democracies did not allow women to vote until after the first world war – about 25 years later!

 

For more info visit https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/womens-suffrage