The first word that springs to mind when I think about the suffrage campaigners is bravery. To go against the system takes enormous courage and strength of spirit.
The result of their efforts was that on the September 19, 1893 – some 125 years ago – New Zealand women over the age of 21 were granted the right to vote. That triumph took years to achieve by suffrage campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard.
I thank them for everything they went through to ensure that all New Zealanders have the right to voting equality.
It took 26 years before women could stand for election to the House of Representatives. The Women’s Parliamentary Rights Act passed into law on October 29, 1919.
National has a proud tradition of women in parliament. The Rt. Hon Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister in 1997, while other prominent members include Dame Hilda Ross and Hon Ruth Richardson.
When I look at the National party today, three of our top four ranked MPs are women, and I am proud that our party recognises gender diversity.
Today the idea that these MPs could not play their part in our future is unimaginable. We celebrate and commemorate 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.