The First Wave Of Feminism In New Zealand

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The 1890s is known as the first-wave of feminism in New Zealand. During this period New Zealand woman and women 's groups such as The Women 's Christian Temperance movement began to campaign for issues that were important to them, including women 's suffrage. In 1893, after a tireless effort from many, New Zealand became the first country to grant women the vote. In this essay I am going to discuss the origins of the suffrage campaign including; The Women 's Christian Temperance Movement and the purification of society, the course of the campaign and finally the consequences that the women 's vote had on New Zealand.
The recently formed Women 's Christian Temperance Movement (WCTU) took up the campaign for the vote in 1885. The movement was
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This included many secular churches such as the Quakers, the Baptists, the Salvation Army, the Congregational Union and the Methodists. The Salvation Army in particular had a largely female attendance and according to Rachel Grimmet had “broken down the orthodox idea that woman’s place is at home and has given us what has long been needed- unrestrained liberty of action and thought.” However, some of the churches were often slow to support as they considered that their concerns should relate principally to spiritual matters and matters within the church. The Christian contribution to the battle for female franchise was carried out more by individual Christians and special societies such as the WCTU than by church denominations. Some churches played a major role in supporting the women 's suffrage campaign and in turn helped women gain the vote. Churchgoing women are said to have either lead or numerically dominated the suffrage campaign. Many suffragists turned to their church for support and believed that “Jesus Christ was the first founder and head of the women 's franchise movement.” The first wave feminists interpreted the Bible for themselves to create an influential Christian feminist movement. According to Barbara Welter “the dignity, equality, sisterhood and spiritual strength found in religion fired the nineteenth …show more content…
Some opponents unconvincingly argued that the vote would destroy domestic happiness and would degrade and coarsen women. Many feared that “the world would be turned upside down: that emasculated men would be forced to mind babies while masculinised women took to politics.” Men involved in the liquor industry feared prohibition if women were to be given the vote as the WCTU had made it very clear that temperance was high on the agenda. For this reason a petition was circulated to every hotel in Wellington in mid-September urging the government not to sign the recently passed ‘Electoral Act.’ Apparently names were duplicated on this petition which demonstrates how fearful the liquor industry was that women would get the vote and it would lead to prohibition. A few members of the Legislative Council also sent a petition to the Governor and asked him not to approve the Bill. The WCTU heard what had happened and felt that quick action was essential so they too wrote to the Governor. The Governor was sympathetic to the suffragettes and on the 19th of September 1893 Seddon reluctantly telegraphed the Sheppard telling her that the Bill had been passed by the

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