Saturday November 28, 2020 Smile of the Day: Women Get the Vote

On this Day:

A general election was held on this day in New Zealand, 28th November 1893.  It was an earth-shattering event.

New Zealand’s leading suffragette was Kate Sheppard from Christchurch, an English-born leader in New Zealand’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). She spoke up and down the country in favour of women’s right to vote to great success.  She  organized a series of petitions to parliament to demand women the vote. These were hugely influential and forcibly contested by figures in the liquor industry. 

An earlier bill to parliament had failed in the upper house but on the 8th September 1893 it passed by 20 votes to 18 after the Prime Minister Richard Seddon tried to stop it. His interference put the backs up of other two members of parliament to such a degree they changed their vote and the bill passed.

But the Governor of New Zealand Lord Glasgow, as the representative of the British monarch, had still to sign the bill into law. Suffragettes put in one final effort and on 19th September 1893 Lord Glasgow signed the bill into law.  That led to New Zealand being the first country where women were eligible to register in a general election.

In the subsequent general election, 84% of women registered and two-thirds later voted for the first time. Today Kate Sheppard’s portrait is on the New Zealand ten dollar bill and the centenary of women’s suffrage was widely celebrated in New Zealand in 1993. Finland followed in 1907, then parts of the Russian Empire. Canada followed in granting women the vote in 1917, the United Kingdom in 1918 and the United States in 1920. By contrast Switzerland didn’t grant women full voting rights until 1971, Portugal in 1976 and Liechtenstein in 1984.


First, a Story:

After a candidate was killed by a boulder, his only opponent won the election by a landslide.

Second, a Song:

Here is a rousing performance by Devonshire Grade 5/6 of the Hey Buster song “Get Out and Vote!”  I believe this is Devonshire Community Public School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada ( 


Thought for the Day:

“Do not think your single vote does not matter much. The rain that refreshes the parched ground is made up of single drops.” – Kate Sheppard

Have a great day!

© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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