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Suffrage Day: Can vote: Will vote

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Women’s Affairs

19 September 2008 Media Statement
Suffrage Day: Can vote: Will vote

At a breakfast to celebrate Suffrage Day today Women's Affairs Minster Steve Chadwick reminded the women of New Zealand about the importance of using their hard-won right to vote.

"On Suffrage Day we celebrate the 115th anniversary of New Zealand women leading the world in winning the right to vote, and it is a good opportunity to reflect on the past and on our future. That milestone is a great source of pride and is one of the things that define us as a nation," Steve Chadwick said.

"Women have always been active in our society; fighting for their rights and the rights of those whose voices were traditionally not heard. It was women’s activism that succeeded in getting us the right to vote.

"The suffragettes stood firm and change happened; women finally had a say in the running of our country. This government carries on the legacy of equal rights for women and we have had some spectacular success.

"Initiatives like Working for Families, four weeks annual leave, 20 hours free quality early childhood education and interest free student loans all make a big difference to the lives of women in New Zealand.

"We have women in the roles of Prime Minister, Parliamentary Speaker, and Chief Justice. We have equal pay legislation and paid parental leave, and women make up 42 per cent of members on state sector boards. Women and men in New Zealand have full and equal legal rights.

"Equality in law and equality in reality, however, are not always the same thing. We still have issues to deal with such as the pay and employment disparities that continue, including occupational segregation and the gender pay gap, and the high rates of violence against women and children.

"Women's right to vote is one that we need to give careful attention to this year. It’s just as important for us to participate fully now in 2008 as it was 115 years ago.

"I urge all New Zealand women to vote in this year‘s general election on 8 November. You have the right to vote – use it!"


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