(Published in Savvy Magazine, September 2014)
I spent four years living in Switzerland, where I was shocked to discover that women were only given full voting rights in… wait for it… 1971 – the last European country to do so. Interestingly, part of the reason for this late gift was because there were too many women’s groups against getting the vote. They thought it would lead to neglect of the family, and that women had ‘enough to think about’. And this must all be true because I read it on the Internet 🙂
New Zealand, in contrast, was a pioneer of women’s rights, and maybe that was because the female population was of a different mindset. The Maori women were from a strong warrior nation, and the Pakeha women were adventurous pioneers, as brave and hardy as their pioneer husbands. In 1893, a quarter of the female population – 32,000 women – signed petitions to be granted the right to vote. The Electoral Bill was passed that same year.
New Zealand led the world on women’s rights in 1893, and continued to do so. From 2005 to 2006, all the highest offices were occupied by women. The Queen, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice. Another first.
Writing this article makes me realise I’m taking all this girl power completely for granted because I haven’t enrolled to vote in the General Elections yet. If you haven’t either, they close enrolments on the 19th of September. Make your ancestors efforts worthwhile!