100 years that women have been allowed to stand for Parliament

On 19 September 1893 a new Electoral Act was signed giving women the right to vote in parliamentary elections in New Zealand. into law. It was the first self-governing country in the world to allow this.

It wasn’t until 1919, a hundred years ago today, that women were allowed to stand as candidates.

Women weren’t allowed to vote in most other democracies, including Britain and the United States, until after this.

USA:

In 1916 Alice Paul formed the National Woman’s Party (NWP), a militant group focused on the passage of a national suffrage amendment. Over 200 NWP supporters, the Silent Sentinels, were arrested in 1917 while picketing the White House, some of whom went on hunger strike and endured forced feeding after being sent to prison. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the two-million-member NAWSA also made a national suffrage amendment its top priority. After a hard-fought series of votes in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 18, 1920.[4] It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Britain (Wikipedia):

In 1918 a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising all men over 21, as well as all women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. This act was the first to include almost all adult men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men[2] and 8.4 million women.[3] In 1928 the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act equalizing the franchise to all persons over the age of 21 on equal terms.

Australia gave some women the vote after New Zealand, but allowed them to stand for office before us.

In 1897, in South AustraliaCatherine Helen Spence was the first woman to stand as a political candidate.

In 1902, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, which established a uniform franchise law for the federal Parliament. The Act declared that all British subjects over the age of 21 years who had been living in Australia for at least 6 months were entitled to a vote, whether male or female, and whether married or single. Besides granting Australian women the right to vote at a national level, it also allowed them to stand for election to federal Parliament.[5] This meant that Australia was the second country, after New Zealand, to grant women’s suffrage at a national level, and the first country to allow women to stand for Parliament.

But that wasn’t universal:

However, the Act also disqualified Indigenous people from Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands, with the exception of Māori, from voting, even though they were British subjects and otherwise entitled to a vote. By this provision, Indian people, for example, were disqualified to vote.

The restrictions on voting by indigenous Australians were relaxed after World War II, and removed by the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1962.[7] Senator Neville Bonner became the first Aboriginal Australian to sit in the federal Parliament in 1971. Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia in 2010.

In modern Aotearoa it seems odd to have been so sexist when it comes to democracy, as all but a few of us have been born since women were given the vote and were allowed to stand for Parliament, but equality in democracy is still an issue here.

We have our third female Prime Minister, the first to have a baby while in office, but she is frequently attacked and smeared because of this.

https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/womens-suffrage

Leave a comment

22 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th December 2019

    Has the right to become one of those entitled to boss the rest of us around made any difference to the rest of us?

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th December 2019

      Be interesting to make a list of women politicians who have made a real difference. Mabel Howard, Marilyn Waring and Fran Wild come to my mind. Big names like Richardson, Shipley, Clark, Ardern not so much. Did they do anything lasting distinguishable from men?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  17th December 2019

        I am sceptical about the timing of little Neve. I don’t see the PM as being attacked and smeared, but it was fair enough to question whether she could be a full-time PM as well as a new mother.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  17th December 2019

          Men never get asked about issues that might interfere with being a full time PM…illness primarily.
          The reality is the job changes to suit to person who is PM. I’m sure Key did things his way…mostly delegated to Eagleson , than Clark who was hands on.
          I don’t know there was any outstanding process to English as PM, with him having 30 years previous experience at various government levels and Ardern with very little experience .

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  17th December 2019

        Be interesting to make a list of male politicians who haven’t made any real & lasting difference too. I wonder how the numbers would look in comparison.

        Would take quite a bit of time to get any agreement on what ‘real’ and ‘lasting’ should be defined as.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th December 2019

          I don’t think your list would be in the slightest interesting whereas mine would be. I’m interested in people who make a positive difference to the world and not those who just turn up.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  17th December 2019

            I think your list would be so heavily weighted towards your own views it would naturally be of interest to you.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th December 2019

              Rubbish. The interesting part would be learning about people and actions I wasn’t familiar with.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              Could be fun for you I suppose.

              You’d better define “real” difference & “lasting”, both terms you’ve used & that can each be used to filter out all sorts of pollies people over enough time. And to be of any use you’d need to compare it with some male politicians.

              Why pick Waring? I’d say Clark made a real difference. 1st term female PM, showed it can be done. Have we still got her Cullen fund in some form?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th December 2019

              Can you show Clark did something significant that Cullen wouldn’t have done in her place?

              Waring was by far the most outspoken young feminist Parliament had then seen. Her revolt over the nuclear issue brought down Muldoon and led to the Douglas reforms.

            • Blazer

               /  17th December 2019

              Douglas ‘reforms’!!….the introduction of neo liberal b/s that brings us to the current state of unpayable debt,huge inequality and unsustainable asset prices.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              Her revolt over the nuclear issue led to an election.
              Lange brought down Muldoon. Or, if you like, Muldoon brought down Muldoon.
              Lange being a raconteur & gasbag led to the Douglas reforms, which he bailed out of.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              So, Waring wasn’t the architect of the Douglas reforms, they were not a deliberate achievement of hers, so she is rejected.

              Next?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th December 2019

              Nope. She did stuff a man wouldn’t have done and it had lasting impacts. You are fired as a judge.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              Bollocks. Winston Peters did much the same thing, created his own Party, successfully brought down two governments, and must be about as long lasting as you can get by now.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              And he might not be finished yet. As far as bringing down governments goes, he might yet pull off a hat trick. 😎

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th December 2019

              Winston didn’t do anything a man wouldn’t have done. Waring did.

            • Gezza

               /  17th December 2019

              Ok, I’ll give you that one, but because she seems to be claiming responsibility for the nuclear ships ban, not the Douglas reforms:

              “Waring had come especially to disagree with the National Party policy over the issue of a nuclear-free New Zealand and, on 14 June 1984, she informed the leadership that she would vote independently on nuclear issues, disarmament issues, and rape but would continue to support the Government on confidence. Since the National Party had only a one-seat majority, the government would be likely (though not certain) to lose on an issue Muldoon regarded as one of national security.

              That evening Muldoon decided to call a snap election to be held on 14 July (a general election was due at the end of the year). The election was a disaster for the National Party. Waring told Muldoon’s biographer that she had deliberately sought to provoke Muldoon into this action. The nuclear-free New Zealand legislation was subsequently enacted by the new Labour government.” Wikipedia

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th December 2019

    Obama drivels on this subject:
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/barack-obama-says-women-are-pretty-indisputably-better-than-men/

    You would hope he was joking but fear he was not.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th December 2019

      Qualifying ‘indisputably’ makes it meaningless. How patronising he sounds.

      Some women are better than some men at some things, but it’s absurd to say that all women are better than all men.

      Reply
  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  17th December 2019

    Swiss women didn’t have the vote until 1970.

    Reply

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