Kate Sheppard And The Women's Christian Temperance Movement

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Kate Sheppard, née Malcolm, moved from England to Christchurch in 1868, where she joined the New Zealand chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement (the WCTU). The WCTU is an international organisation made to campaign for the prohibition of liquor, and a life free from the vices of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Sheppard, and the WCTU, aimed to promote temperance, and realised that if women could vote temperance would be more easily achieved, because many women were supportive or not opposed to temperance. Sheppard’s interests in women’s suffrage quickly became deep, and unrelated to the practical concerns of obtaining legislative reform in favour of temperance. She decried divisions between sexes, races and creeds as inhuman, …show more content…
Many places did not give women any electoral power, others only gave it to women of elite economic and social circumstances, or women were only to vote on local matters. Sheppard also lamented that women were socially pressured into specific ‘womanly’ roles, duties and (lack of) careers. It was not accepted for women to stray from the norms, and furthermore, women also had no legislative power to affect the conditions of those roles. Why was it that a woman was supposed to be the manager of the home, and also could not have any impact on laws governing domestic issues? Sheppard’s rational and persuasive public speaking on suffrage was noticed, and she began to gain supporters. Sheppard was appointed to be the Superintendent of the nationwide enfranchisement department of New Zealand’s WCTU Chapter in 1887, and begun to …show more content…
All men and women, pakeha and Māori, landed or not, could vote if they were over 21 years of age and not criminals. The vote came to women early enough for women to participate in the upcoming general election, in just over two month’s time. The public reaction was mixed, but by that time negative responses were somewhat irrelevant; the new laws had been made. The Otago Daily Times ran a news story on 20 September 1893 announcing the “Total Victory” for the suffragettes, and noting that as the announcement was made in the House, “20 years seemed in an hour to have been taken off [Sir John Hall’s] age”. The remainder of the story is positive, as expected from a paper run in one of the strongholds for suffrage. While on the same day the Auckland Star ran a story on the passage of the Act and the Governor’s Assent, with an accompanying story entitled “Have Men More Brains Than Women?”, which did not commit to answering that question, but did at one point state that “a woman is four ounces less capable of thinking than a man”. The primary story in that edition of the Auckland Star was much more useful, detailing the procedure for obtaining registration forms, noting that the forms and declaration make no mention of gender, and that if all eligible women register in time for the election the Auckland District’s voting pool will increase from 8 000 men by 6 000 women, to about 13 or 14 thousand. Offices all over the country were immediately

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