Past projects

New Zealand celebrates 125 years of women's suffrage

The 19th of September 2018 marked 125 years since the law changed in Aotearoa New Zealand so that all people, including women could vote.

The law change came about after a determined campaign over a number of years by a group of women led by Kate Shepherd. They presented a series of massive petitions to Parliament in 1891,1892 and 1893.

In 1893 the petition presented to Parliament by the Suffragists had nearly 32,000 signatures. Soon after the all-male Parliament voted to change the law, so women could vote.


Still Striving for Equality

There has been progress for women in many areas of society since 1893, however there is still more work to do to achieve gender equality for women in New Zealand.

The Human Rights Commission has made a video with prominent New Zealand women called “Striving for Equality” that reflects on the gains that women have made in New Zealand since they won the right to vote in 1893.

At the same time, it focuses on the serious human rights issues still facing women today: our unprecedented family violence statistics, the gender pay gap and a lack of women in business leadership.

Still Striving for Equality  features the following respected, talented and irrepressible women:

  • Hillary Barry – Broadcast Journalist
  • Alison Mau – Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Sina Wendt-Moore – CEO Leadership NZ, Co-President YWCA Aotearoa NZ
  • Mai Chen – Managing Partner Chen Palmer Partners, Adjunct Professor University of Auckland, Chair NZ Asian Leaders & Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy & Business, Director BNZ
  • The Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM, DBE, QSO - Former Governor- General of New Zealand (2001-2006), first female Chief District Court Judge and High Court Judge
  • Vanisa Dhiru – National President, National Council of Women New Zealand
  • The Honourable Justice (Dame) Susan Glazebrook DNZM – Judge of the Supreme Court
  • Theresa Gattung CNZM – Leading New Zealand businesswoman, author and philanthropist
  • Michele A’Court – Comedian, Writer, Social Commentator
  • Leonie Hayden – Ātea Editor, The Spinoff, Presenter, The Spinoff TV
  • Lizzie Marvelly – Musician, writer, activist
  • The Right Honourable Helen Clark ONZ, SSI, PC – First woman elected New Zealand Prime Minister (1999-2008) and Administrator of the United Nations Development programme (2009- 2017)
  • Dr Jackie Blue – Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner, Former MP (2005-2013) and GP
  • Paula Tesoriero MNZM – Disability Rights and Acting Chief Commissioner, Paralympic Gold Medallist

Click on this link to access the video “Still Striving for Equality”.

An extended version of the video can be found here.


Suffrage 125 Debate

The Human Rights Commission also hosted the Suffrage 125 Debate at the New Zealand Parliament in collaboration with the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. Global Women and Ministry of Women.

The debate was based on the merits of using quotas, targets and special measures to achieve gender equality in private sector leadership roles.

The Commission brought together powerful voices on both sides of this issue over quotas to explore the best way for New Zealand to reach its common goal of inclusive prosperity.

Speakers included Louisa Wall MP, Prof Marilyn Waring, Joan Withers and Anne Tolley MP while Dr. Jackie Blue, our former Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner moderated the discussion.

Click on this link to watch the Suffrage 125 Debate.