Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

2
Early Parliaments and Women's Rights

Do you still persecute for religious opinions? Do you still burn for witchcraft? Why, when the broad road of progress is cleared for so many human beings, is the Juggernaut car of prejudice still to be driven on, crushing the crowds of helpless women beneath its wheels?

"'Femina'"--An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand. Nelson, 1869

IN the New Zealand of the 'seventies and early 'eighties the teachings of liberalism, the principles of democracy, were spreading widely in a society becoming increasingly egalitarian. The value of the ballot as a protection for groups and individuals was more and more preached. As the right to vote was extended widely to the men of the state it was only to be expected that some people should ask a pertinent question-- why, if this ballot was of such significance, should one half of the adults of the country be excluded from it?

The woman of early Victorian society, who in general had accepted her subordinate position in home and state, might have inspired no such query. The advance of the New Zealand woman into so many new domains made her political exclusion seem illogical and unjust. Well before 1885, when a woman's organization began the first concerted agitation for political rights, her altered status had led many individuals, in and out of Parliament, to advocate the extension to some women, at least, of voting rights at a local or national level. By 1885 the entire adult female population had received one local suffrage; women ratepayers had the right to vote for three other separate local body elections; only one such attempt had failed--to obtain for women, either the whole sex or the ratepaying section, the right to vote for the national Parliament.

When the education act of 1877 established compulsory primary education, local control of schools was placed in the hands of school committees, elected by the householders, and presided over by a

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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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