Saturday, September 21, 2013

The NZ Suffragettes battle for woman to get the vote!

Who is this woman on our $10 note?

The 1883 Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Electoral Bill passed through Parliament and was given the Royal Assent by the Governor Lord Glasgow on 19thSeptember 1893.

I wonder how many New Zealand teachers took the time to discuss the importance of this event in the their classrooms?
Arrest and gaol in England!

It's not just making students aware of woman getting the vote but trying to understand and imagine what it must have been like to be involved?

That we all have the vote is taken for granted today but it had been a hard won battle,  before this time only men had the right to vote.

It would be a learning experience for students to begin to appreciate the challenge this was for woman facing up to the fierce opposition that came from the men.

Students could research the history of the suffragette movement world wide and the actions of those involved that included gaol, hunger strikes and force feeding  and the opposition and ridicule they had to face up to.

Students could try to imagine what is was like for men to have woman dress and behave like men in those times - even smoking cigars in public!
Nasty cartoons

The task  of the suffragettes was not easy because many woman believed  they had to accept their husbands opinions and did not need to vote! Students might wonder what some woman felt like this? Some men thought woman too foolish to vote while others thought is was a challenge to them as head of the house.

It might be interesting to consider ( and compare numbers to today) that  30 000 woman signed the petition  which was about a quarter of the woman in  New Zealand at the time.

Woman getting the vote was only a first step, the next was to elect woman as Members of Parliament - which was achieved in 1919. In recent times we have had woman Prime Ministers.

Kate Shepherd NZ
Today their is a debate about the importance of having equal numbers woman in parliament and in business positions. Do students think these are important and why, or why not?

Do students think men and woman's need and abilities are completely different or do they think that they share most things in common but both sexes have a few different but important characteristics? What might they be? Imagine a world run entirely by men or woman - what might it be like?

The fight for equality goes on throughout the world. Change is never easy it seems - students might wonder why this is using their knowledge of the suffragette movement as an example.

What would they like to change if they had the chance? Would they be prepared to put themselves at risk to do ? What things are still unfair ?

Who are individuals in history that were prepared to face the power of authority to fight for what they thought was right?

Who have been others in history that have had to fight for votes or equality?

What has all this got to do with democracy?

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