Women’s suffrage day

122 years ago, in 1893, women were given the right to vote in a general election. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote. In many other western countries, women did not have the right to vote until after the First World War.

The $10 note has the picture of Kate Sheppard on it. She was the woman who was mostly responsible for achieving the vote for women. She worked hard with a group of other women to get 30,000 signatures from women wanting the vote. This was about 20% of all women who lived in New Zealand at that time. All the pages with these signatures were glued together to make a length of 270m. This was rolled up and taken to Parliament. Kate Sheppard unrolled it inside Parliament. This paper was called a petition. It asked MPs to allow women the same rights as men in the next election. She had the support of some important politicians, and the law to give women the vote was passed.

However, it wasn’t until 1933 that New Zealand had the first woman Member of Parliament. Today about one third of MPs are women.


• suffrage – right to vote (the women were called Suffragettes)
• achieve – win, be successful
• signatures – they signed their names and addresses
• politicians – Members of Parliament

Note: rolled up / unrolled (compare: do up/ undo; zip up /unzip)

One Comments

  1. Wow! lovely site! Thanks for your hard work.

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