Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

I
The New Woman

When women's rights have come to stay,
Oh, who will rock the cradle?
When wives are at the polls all day,
Oh, who will rock the cradle?
When Doctor Mamma's making pills,
When Merchant Mamma's selling bills,
Of course, 'twill cure all women's ills,
But who will rock the cradle?

New Zealand Graphic, August 1891

IN nineteenth-century Western society the traditional position of women was gradually altering under the influence of what became known as the feminist movement. The movement spread to many aspects of women's social, economic and political life, but in essence it worked for the emancipation of woman from her legal and social subjection to the male sex, and attempted to gain for her a degree of equality with man in every appropriate sphere, both public and private. As the principle of democracy spread in society, and more and more men were granted a voice in political affairs, it was to be expected that here was yet another domain in which women would sue for equal opportunity. Their aspirations in this sphere generally met determined opposition, and required an organized and sustained campaign for success. The interest of contemporary observers was often captured by such suffrage movements to a far greater extent than by the many other conquests, ill-defined and indistinct, but of equal importance, made by woman in her search for full development.

The life of New Zealand women in the first fifty years of the colony's existence had largely been one of harsh backbreaking toil as they strove with their menfolk to establish farms and settlements in this distant territory. For the most part isolated and absorbed in the practical necessities of daily life, they were nevertheless by no means untouched

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Women's Suffrage in New Zealand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface to the 1987 Edition vi
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • I- The New Woman 1
  • 2- Early Parliaments and Women's Rights 12
  • 3- Women and the Temperance Movement 21
  • 4- The Women's Christian Temperance Union 27
  • 5- The Suffrage Movement Gathers Way 36
  • 6- The Movement in Full Swing 46
  • 7- The Politicians' Dilemma 60
  • 8- The Debate on Women's Suffrage 74
  • 9- Success 86
  • 10- The First Election 96
  • II- Liberals, Teetotallers, or Feminists? 108
  • 12- Post Mortem on the Suffrage 119
  • Afterword (1987) 123
  • References 127
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 150
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