Image: The 1896 National Council of Women, with president Kate Sheppard seated in the centre / Wikimedia Commons
Tomorrow, the 19th of September, is Suffrage Day. It marks the 124th anniversary of the day when New Zealand women became the first in the world to win the right to vote.
It is also the day when I’ll be voting. Every time a General Election rolls around, if Suffrage Day happens to be in the early voting period, that’s when I make a beeline for the polls.
Why? Because women fought tirelessly for me to be able to exercise my democratic right. As such, I see it as my democratic duty both to vote and to remember them while I’m doing it.
So to all of my sisters out there – make sure you vote. Seriously. It wasn’t that long ago when society thought so little of women that it didn’t afford us even that basic right. Globally, women have died fighting for the right to vote. Suffrage didn’t come easy, so we have to make each vote count.
Which brings me to this confession: I didn’t vote in my first election. Granted, I was on tour in Germany, and only realised that it was voting day late on the actual day, but still. I took for granted a right that my foremothers had fought tooth and nail for. I’ll never make that mistake again.
Since then, I’ve realised that using my vote means that I’ll have a say in the future of my country. Voting means that I’m speaking up about the things that are important to me. When I go to the polls, I’ll go there knowing that my vote is just as powerful as anyone else’s.
Over the last few months, we’ve been publishing a series called ‘The Pitch’. In it, we’ve asked a number of politicians from parties across the spectrum questions about issues that are particularly relevant to young women. If you haven’t voted yet, feel free to check out their answers. You can find the whole series here.
And if tomorrow you find yourself with a spare moment, and feel ready to have your say on the future of our country, why not get out there and vote on Suffrage Day?
Do it for Kate Sheppard! Do it for Aotearoa!
Do it to make sure your voice is heard.