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Suffrage Day award for Women’s Electoral Lobby

16 September 2004

Suffrage Day award for Women’s Electoral Lobby

The Electoral Commission is marking Women’s Suffrage Day, Sunday, 19 September, by making a special award recognising the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL New Zealand), which has just wrapped up its national organisation after 27 years’ operation.

The award is being presented at a Suffrage Day function hosted jointly by the Commission and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to mark the 111th anniversary of women gaining the vote in New Zealand.

Commission chief executive Dr Helena Catt is to present the Wallace Award for outstanding contribution to electoral matters. The award is named after inaugural Commission president Sir John Wallace, who also chaired the Royal Commission that recommended New Zealand adopt MMP.

“WEL New Zealand has worked tirelessly to meet its aims of informing women about discrimination, pushing for relevant law change, and seeing people with attitudes and policies advancing the rights of women appointed or elected to public office,” says Electoral Commission chief executive Dr Helena Catt.

“We take women in politics for granted now but in 1975, when WEL New Zealand started, there were only four women MPs and none in Cabinet. WEL New Zealand has been one of the most significant and effective actors in changing attitudes towards women in politics,” Dr Catt added.

The organisation was founded in 1975, International Women’s Year, and within six months grew to have 2000 members across 18 branches. Now it has shut up shop nationally due to a falling active membership as current and prospective members focused on individual issues rather than WEL New Zealand’s broader remit. The Kapiti branch is continuing to operate with about 30 active members.

ENDS

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