In Promoting Women Rights To Vote
New Zealand’s ten dollar note commemorates Kate Sheppard with her portrait. Kate was an important women leader in promoting women rights in particular an equal right to vote for New Zealand women.
Years of tireless work, travelling, speeches, and petitions carried out under her regime in cooperation with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, a worldwide women’s organisation, was rewarded on the 19th September 1893. New Zealand finally stepped forward as the first nation to accept the electoral bill that gave all New Zealander the right to vote.
Left behind were the times of gender, racial, and or social status restrictions. Today we take the right to vote for granted and hardly can imagine how much persistence it took to achieve and that many countries followed the New Zealand example many years later.
Tenth March in 1847 was the day Catherine Wilson Malcolm was born in Liverpool, England. Her parents Jemima Crawford Souter and Andrew Wilson Malcolm were of Scottish origin. Scotland was too, where she received a good education.
Catherine preferred Katherine or Kate over her given name. Six years after her father’s death in 1868 her mother Jemima migrated with her children, two girls, and one son to Christchurch in New Zealand where a daughter already had settled.
On the 21st of July 1871, she married Walter Allen Sheppard, at the age of twenty four. In December 1880 she gave birth to a baby boy named Douglas.
Five years later, Kate joined the "Woman’s Christian Temperance Union", WCTU. Holding an overseeing role and able to persuade her audience in speech and writing, she kept the press with releases up to date, encouraged and lead discussions within union and church, as well as with political groups.
WCTU realised soon that improvements regarding the welfare of woman and children by restraining the consumption of alcohol would be more effective had women the right to vote.
A life long journey set into motion to:
"All that separates,
whether of race, class, creed, or sex,
and must be overcome".
Twice, Kate Sheppard was married and she survived both her husbands, her son, and grand daughter. At the age of 87 Kate Lovell – Smith died on the 13th of July in her home in Riccarton, Christchurch. She was lucky to see her life’s work as a woman leader for women rights carrying fruit. The first woman Elizabeth McCombs was elected into the New Zealand Parliament in 1933.