New Zealand Embassy Paris, France

Reflections on 120 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand

On 19 September 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant the right to vote to all adult women.

New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the OECD Rosemary Banks says the 120th anniversary of this decision is a time to reflect on that achievement.

“120 years ago, New Zealand led the world in giving women the right to vote” says Ms Banks.

“Since then there has been significant progress to advance the participation and contribution of women to political and economic life in New Zealand and other OECD countries. But we still have a way to go for women to make their fullest possible contribution.”

This goal is shared by the OECD, which is leading important work on how to enable women to exercise leadership in public life.  This includes a report on women’s leadership in the public domain in OECD countries, and good practices among OECD and non-OECD countries.  An OECD High Level Global Forum on Women in Government and Public Policies will be held in April 2014.

New Zealand supports the OECD’s efforts to catalyse international and national debate to advance women’s full participation in public life.

“New Zealand is committed to advancing gender equality in both the public and private sector.  The New Zealand Government has committed to reaching a target of 45 per cent women appointees on state sector boards by 2014.  Our Ministry for Women’s Affairs is leading work in partnership with the private sector that looks at the career progression of women into senior management and board roles in New Zealand.

“At the same time, in the private sector women’s participation is also improving and is being helped by initiatives such as ‘The 25 Percent Group’ and ‘DiverseNZ Inc.’

“These initiatives show that 120 years on from granting women the right to vote, New Zealand is still focused on gender equality,” says Ms Banks.  "It is also heartening to know that we have partners like the OECD, continuing to work alongside us towards the same goals."

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