Women Win The Right To Vote – 19th September 1893

On 19th September 1893, Christchurch-based suffragette Kate Sheppard won New Zealand women the right to vote.

Catherine Wilson Malcolm was born in Liverpool, England in 1848 to Scottish parents – Andrew Wilson Malcolm and Jemima Souter. One of four children, young Catherine had no problem in knowing her own mind – changing the ‘C’ in her name to ‘K’. Kate was well educated and was considered very bright.

When Kate’s father died in 1869, Kate’s mother Jemima moved her family to Christchurch. Just three years later, Kate was married to Walter Sheppard who worked as a merchant and grocer.

Spurred by her religious view, Kate soon proved to be a good speaker and excellent organiser. In 1891, what was regarded to be the first petition to win women the vote, arrived in parliament with 9000 signatures. The first two attempts had been squashed but Kate did not give up. The following year, another petition arrived with 19,000 signatures. The third petition arrived in 1893 and was measured to be 766 feet long and carried 32,000 signatures. The Woman Suffrage Bill was passed – women had earned the right to vote.

For a more in depth look at Kate Sheppard, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/catherine-wilson-lovell-smith-nee-malcolm-kate-sheppard-1847-1934/

* Image courtesy of Gardens and Parks – http://www.zilchoo.com/

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