It’s been one hundred and twenty years ……

This coming Friday, 20th September, voting begins in our City Council elections. We will elect a Mayor and other local community representatives. A friend of mine** is standing for election to the Health Board. The fact that she can stand for election (and that I can vote for her) is due to a momentous event that took place on 19 September 1893. It was on this  date, one hundred and twenty years ago, that Lord Glasgow, Governor of New Zealand, signed a new Electoral Act in to law. The new  Act  gave all women in New Zealand the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

The suffragists were jubilant at their success, and this legislation made New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world to give women the freedom to vote. Congratulations came pouring in from around the globe. Our historic victory in tiny New Zealand gave courage and hope to those who still had a long fight ahead of them for women’s suffrage.

The campaign for women’s suffrage in New Zealand was long and hard.  The campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard, compiled a series of petitions, the final one of which was submitted to Parliament on 28 July 1893. It contained more than 25,000 signatures, was more than 270 metres long….and it was successful. The petition is of such significance that it is included in the UNESCO Memory of the World register of documentary heritage. suffrage-petittion_0 (‘Suffrage petition, 1893’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/suffrage-petition-1893, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012)

A mere 10 weeks after the new Electoral Act was signed, New Zealand went to the polls on 28 November 1893. In those ten weeks, “109,461 women – about 84% of the adult female population – enrolled to vote in the election. On polling day 90,290 of them cast their votes,” http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/page/women-vote-first-general-election

To understand the excitement and fervour of those first women voters, listen to this wonderful sound recording of three women recalling  their first experience of voting in 1893. Not only are their words wonderful but their New Zealand accents, so different from our accents today,  are too.  http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0010/2521792/santk-20130909-0000-first_time_women_voters_1893.asx

Sadly, many voters no longer feel that same enthusiasm. In our last general elections in 2011, one million of our eligible voters didn’t use their right to vote. What a waste!

There are many excellent  links to the event we are commemorating today, http://cclblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/suffrage-city/ including my own post (not necessarily excellent 🙂 )

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/1802/

Kate Sheppard is worth more than Ten Dollars

Kate Sheppard is worth more than Ten Dollars

And, because of the international significance of the achievements of this day in 1893, I would like to recommend two blog posts about women and the recent elections in Australia and Norway. http://misslouella.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/sheilas-eh-who-needs-em/  and http://bentehaarstad.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/democracy-100-years/

Lastly, for the sake of those who fought so hard to give us the right to vote, and, for the sake of those women who cannot vote, or cannot do so easily and freely, when it is time  for any of us to vote, PLEASE VOTE. It matters.

** My friend’s Facebook page is  Vote Allison Franklin for Canterbury DHB

© silkannthreades

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50 thoughts on “It’s been one hundred and twenty years ……

  1. bentehaarstad

    Congratulations with the votes, nice post, Gallivanta. And all who have the right too vote have to remember that this right is nothing if we don’t use it. We have to keep democracy alive and protect it, and support people in other countries who don’t have this right, and who still have to fight for freedom and democrazy. And against poverty.

    Reply
  2. Clanmother

    We stand on the shoulders of giants! They gave so much so that we could continue their work. I stand in awe of women like Kate Sheppard.

    “We are tired of having a ‘sphere’ doled out to us, and of being told that anything outside that sphere is ‘unwomanly’. We want to be natural just for a change … we must be ourselves at all risks.” Kate Sheppard

    Reply
  3. Daniela

    New Zealand has a lot to be proud of and your post highlights very important developments that not only gave voice to women of NZ, but illuminated the road for the women around the world!

    Well Done,
    Daniela

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank Daniela. Still a lot more to be done though, wouldn’t you say? I suppose, though, with all these issues, such as equality or democracy, there is always more to be done. They are always ‘works in progress’.

      Reply
      1. Daniela

        I agree – there is a lot still to be done and of course how human societies change, issues that present themselves also change and bring new challenges … there will always be plenty of ‘work in progress’ -:)!

        Reply
  4. knitnrun4sanity

    My thoughts exactly. Voting to me is very important both for being a woman and also for us having the chance to full stop. I just wish more felt the same. Thanks for your interesting post 🙂

    Reply
  5. Forest So Green

    When I turned 18, I gained the right to vote and I have voted in almost every election since. I take the right to vote very seriously. Unfortunately many do not and women still are only a novelty in elected office 😦

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hooray! I am glad you are dedicated voter. I can’t imagine what it would be like not being allowed to vote. I remember when the voting age was lowered to 18 and how exciting it was to be free to vote at 18. The relief that I wouldn’t have to wait until I was 21 to have my say.

      Reply
  6. Heather in Arles

    I can’t add to anything that hasn’t already been said but to thank you for this very poignant post. Our voice counts!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Heather. May I ask if you are able to vote in France? In New Zealand, it is your residence status that determines your eligibility to vote. In other countries, one must be a citizen and that can often disenfranchise long term residents, who should rightly be allowed to vote. (in my view!)

      Reply
  7. utesmile

    Good luck with voting , may the best ones get the seats. Well I say if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the government. Also in this country people don’t vote much anymore, but they have been disheartened by the way they run the country. I am not allowed to vote here as I am not British, only on european issues I vote but I am not into politics though, I don’t understand enough. I always hope they do use their brain as well as their heart.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, in some cases like yours, it is not possible to vote in national elections.That happens in a lot of countries. I think there should be some changes in that regard because we are all so mobile now. Too many people are missing out on the chance to have their say simply because they don’t fit the electoral roll criteria.
      And, yes, voters do become disheartened by the antics of their politicians ,and what our politicians do can seem very remote from our daily lives and completely unconnected. NOW, if you started the Ute-Danny/Manny-Oups Party; I could relate to that and I would vote for you ;).

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          It would be ‘party party’ all the time. We could invite Ralph to be Vice President of the Party. We’d have to include Manny’s Mom, too. But, seriously, political parties do need to lighten up and relate to ordinary (extraordinary) people like you and me.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I know, I know! It’s glorious. And they remind me of my grandmother’s accent. Our New Zealand accent has devolved so incredibly over the decades; some would say ‘evolved’. I do not.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh dear, that is sad to hear. However, I think many here would say we are not making as much progress as we should. Women are still under represented in Parliament and in top echelon jobs.

      Reply
  8. YellowCable

    This is a good piece of history to learn about women right. The 270 meter long of signatures or 25000 signatures is amazing.

    I guess now away right to vote is assumed (no more fight to get it) then it seems people fall into natural tendency to see that is an important for them to use, unfortunately.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I think there is some apathy from the voters but, also, I feel it is often hard to be interested in some of the people standing for election. Then there is the issue of political candidates often being so removed from the ordinary person in social and economic status.

      Reply
  9. Miss Lou

    A wonderful blog representative of remarkable life altering history for every single one us!

    The vital role that women play within our community can never be underestimated or dismissed. Sharing this helps to remind us of just how far we have come (and how sick we are entitled to feel when in places like Australia, we only have a single female representative in a 19 member cabinet.)

    The document you included is just gorgeous!!

    Thanks so much for the share and very profound post 🙂

    Miss Lou
    xx

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I thought your post about the lack of women in the Australian Cabinet was great, if scary! I was also very pleased some time ago to see a great Australian Documentary called the Utopia Girls. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link that would show the entire doco. Those women would have had something to say about the present Australian Cabinet. I am not Australian so it’s not really my business to butt in on Aussie Politics, but I do follow Aussie issues as much as I can. We are neighbours after all 🙂

      Reply
      1. Miss Lou

        lol. I think it’s absolutely fine for you to butt in however you like!… You probably know more about what is going on in our country’s political landscape, than half the of the Australian voting population!

        – Atleast (to be fair) it feels that way considering the recent election result.

        People voting based on 3 and 4 word slogans.

        Give. Me. A. Break!

        I’ll see if I can track down that movie!

        Thanks for sharing 🙂

        Reply
  10. ordinarygood

    I read that Kate Sheppard rolled the petition up the aisle in Parliament! I always think of my late Mum on this day. She was passionate that women should always vote after such a hard fight to win that right. So many women around the world still do not have this right:-(
    It was on the Electoral Roll of 1893 that I found my gt gt Grandmother living in my city…or the beginnings of my city all those years ago.
    Great post – I can feel your pride!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I can understand your mother’s passion! Do listen to the sound recording; it’s marvellous! It will remind you of your mother and your forebears. The electoral rolls are a great source of information. And, can you believe that there is a database for all the signatories of the 1893 petition? Do you think your gt gt grandmother’s name would be on there too?

      Reply
      1. ordinarygood

        I’m not sure that my gt gt grandmother was literate. She could only make her mark on her marriage certificate back in Kent, England in 1869. Literacy and education for females around the globe today needs the energy of the suffragettes to make head way.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, it does! But isn’t it interesting/scary that with our technology today, it is actually the old thumb print/finger print that is being used more and more as a true indication of our identity?

  11. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    I’m looking forward to exploring your links when I have a bit more time later this evening, but I so agree with you about not throwing away votes…there are people in the world who still do not have this right, and those of us who do really must exercise it. We have a civic election coming up here soon and as usual, the media is speculating that there will be a low voter turnout. It may not be far from the truth, sad that it is.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Unfortunately, the turn out will most likely be low for our civic elections, too. And it is a postal vote so that should make it really easy to vote! There is research underway to see how voter enthusiasm can be raised but……that will take time.

      Reply

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