57 / Kate Sheppard

(1847–1934)

Kate Malcolm was born in Liverpool, and emigrated with her mother and sister to New Zealand, where she married Walter Sheppard. In 1885, as Kate Sheppard, she joined the newly established Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which advocated women’s suffrage. She began leading the campaign for votes for women, and organised several petitions to Parliament. The fifth of these, which was 270m long and contained the signatures of 31,872 women, had the desired effect. Despite opposition by Premier Richard Seddon, the Electoral Act 1893 was passed by both houses of Parliament and became law – making New Zealand the first country in the world to give the vote to women. Kate Sheppard was the first president of the National Council of Women (established in 1896), and continued to work for women’s rights. Today this leading light of the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement is celebrated on our $10 banknote.


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