September 19th, 1893 – New Zealand Women Get the Vote!

Today-In-History

New Zealand’s Electoral Act of September 19th, 1893 made this country of the British Empire the first in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

NZ Women Vote 680

Although the Liberal government which passed the bill generally advocated social and political reform, the electoral bill was only passed because of a combination of personality issues and political accident.

NZ SuffrageThe bill granted the vote to women of all races. New Zealand women were denied the right to stand for parliament, however, until 1920.

In 2005 almost a third of the Members of Parliament elected were female. Women recently have also occupied powerful and symbolic offices such as those of Prime Minister (Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark), Governor-General (Catherine Tizard and Silvia Cartwright), Chief Justice (Sian Elias), Speaker of the House of Representatives (Margaret Wilson), and from 3 March 2005 to 23 August 2006, all four of these posts were held by women, along with Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.


 

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