Wednesday, September 19, 2018

125 Years of Votes for Women

125 years ago today, New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. It seems almost quaint now to think there was a time when women couldn’t vote, but that was once universal. Until New Zealand changed that.

The video above was made by TVNZ’s 1 News team for release on the Internet. It provides some details—especially voices of some of the first women to vote—not always accessible to people interested in the topic. They did a really good job.

Gaining the right to vote was only the first step: It wasn’t until 1919 that women won the right to stand for Parliament, but it wasn’t until 1940 that the first woman—Elizabeth McCombs—was elected. In the most recent Parliamentary elections, a year ago this month, a record number of women—46—were elected, which is 38% of the 120-member Parliament.

We’ve had three female prime ministers, but all three of them have been since 1997, when Jenny Shipley rolled then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger as National Party leader, becoming New Zealand’s first female prime minister. Two years later, the Labour Party won the election and party leader Helen Clark became prime minister, the first to become prime minister by election. In December 1993, she became New Zealand’s first female Leader of the Opposition, when she replaced then Labour Party leader, Mike Moore, who’d just lost that year’s parliamentary elections. Ironically, when she succeeded Shipley as Prime Minister, Shipley succeeded her as Leader of the Opposition. So, both were a first and a second.

Our current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was the first Prime Minister to give birth while in office. She won’t be the last.

So much has changed in the past 125 years, but there’s so much left to address: The wage gap, violence against women, lack of women in the boardrooms of corporations, lack of respect for traditionally “female” professions. But if New Zealand could be the first nation to grant women the right to vote, it can find solutions to all those problems. Anything’s possible

Coverage from RNZ (Radio New Zealand):

…And their site has printed coverage, too.

Happy Women’s Suffrage Day!

Previous posts:
Women’s Suffrage Day (2012)
Women’s Suffrage Day at 120 (2013)

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

All the female Presidents in the US have given birth in office, all...ZERO of them.