September 19, 1893




The first page of the Suffrage Petition, 1893



New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world to grant all women the 'right to vote' on 19th September 1893 in the parliamentary elections. Governor Lord Glasgow gave the Royal Assent to the electoral bill giving women the voting franchise.


During the late nineteenth century, the Women's Suffrage Movement gained momentum throughout Northern Europe, America, Britain and it's Colonies; it also was an important political issue in New Zealand.


Two major phenomena played significant key roles in winning the fight for voting rights in New Zealand - Firstly, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union ( WCTU), a New Zealand branch of the American organization, formed in 1885 cited that only through political rights women could gain any say over the use and abuse of alcohol, which was claimed as the reason for many of the colonial society's problems, women and children having to bear it's burnt; another being the widely read works of the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, who advocated for women rights had a great influence on the political thoughts of that era.


It can be said that the fight in New Zealand was won through an amalgamation of perseverance, a strong connection to the temperance movement, and luck to some extent.


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