I voted yesterday, in the midst of my busy schedule. It is a privilege I will never take for granted.
In 1893 Kate Sheppard petitioned the government for the right for women to vote, and won. She sent a ripple round the world and other countries soon followed.
But New Zealand was the first country to grant this for women. That is something to be enormously proud of.
1. Kate helped establish the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union. It was from this that she and her supporters formed the petition for the right to vote.
2. It took three petitions to the government to get the vote for women passed.
3. Kate was a devout christian.
* I note that as an important fact, because I do believe, in spite of many people these days mocking it and abusing it, that christianity is behind much of the beliefs and freedoms of the western world, and is the only 'religion' where women are on an equal footing with men.
4. She married a grocer, and had one child, a son.
5. Once the right to vote was passed, Kate only had 10 weeks to get as many New Zealand women over the age of 21 as possible to register. In spite of the short notice, nearly two-thirds of women cast a vote. 61%!
6. Kate was born in England, but emigrated to New Zealand when she was a teenager.
7. She made some pretty amazing statements. This being the most famous,
"All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome."
9. After winning the vote for women in New Zealand, she travelled to America, Canada and England to meet with the suffragettes in those countries and encourage them in their fight for social reform.
10. She died in Christchurch and is buried in the Addington Cemetery.
Her obituary in the paper said this of her:
"A great woman has gone, whose name will remain an inspiration to the daughters of New Zealand while our history endures."
So, I hope that if you are a kiwi you will get out there today and do what Kate and those women who went before us fought for. The right and the privilege for women to have a voice in political matters.