Monday, September 22, 2014

Taking it for granted by Joanne Hill

This last week down here in New Zealand we've had a general election. The day before the election I  spoke, by dint of my day job working in heritage, at a woman's suffrage event. Suffrage - such an odd sounding word - is the right to vote in an election and its a subject dear to the hearts of Kiwis because we grew up knowing that New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote - back in September 1893! So it was a true privilege to speak at this event, an event honouring the group of determined and passionate women who all those years ago presented a petition to the New Zealand parliament demanding equality, and who paved the way for women all over the globe, regardless of their status.

I quite like public speaking but this was a different kind of event. Not only was it literally in public, in a public square in the CBD, but it was political. Scary, right there! There were dignitaries attending including the deputy mayor, members of parliament, city councillors, and local board members. Talking at a public and political event like this is not quite like giving a talk on plotting to your fellow writers on a Friday night, but it was an honour, even more so knowing that the next day I would be voting, thanks to the bold, courageous women who fought that fight.

The woman associated with the movement was Kate Shepherd. A Christian socialist, she joined the Women's Christian Temperance Movement and pushed for the right to vote in order to bring in prohibition, but soon the issue of voting itself took over and it became more about the right to vote, full stop. A few years back, she was honoured with her picture going on the New Zealand ten dollar bill.

We take it for granted now but as one of the speakers reminded us, the fight isn't over, not by a long shot. There are still countries in the world where women are treated appallingly just because they are women and at this moment, there are also women - and no doubt men - fighting for what we now see as a most basic human right.
The words bold and courageous have come up a lot lately, and women like Kate Shepherd were definitely that. Who do you think of when you think of those words?
Joanne's current book Dating Daisy is part of a bundle with seven authors called Second Chances and is now available on Amazon for just .99c until the end of October.





  1. How fascinating! I went to an all-women's college, so people like Kate Sheppard were our heroes. I never knew she was a suffragette in order to promote prohibition. So interesting how one cause can lead to another ...

  2. I had no idea that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote. Fascinating.