It’s been 125 years since women in New Zealand were granted the right to vote and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a number of plans in the works in order to celebrate.
She’s edited the country’s biggest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, for its Suffrage anniversary edition today, commissioning a number of pieces and writing a personal essay. The paper has released a special series on NZ female ‘trailblazers’ today.
She’s also participated in a historic photoshoot, celebrating women in leadership, featuring NZ’s three former and current female prime minsters including Dame Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark and Ardern, with the group meeting for the first time since Ardern took the top job.
— nzherald (@nzherald) September 18, 2018
Asked what message they thought the photoshoot would bring to the world, Clark said it’s that “Girls can do it” while Ardern noted that it demonstrates “we’re near normalising women in leadership… In a role like Prime Minister, if you’ve got three, then you’re pretty close to normalising it.”
Ardern admitted on Facebook that initially she was unsure of participating in the photograph but the opportunity to celebrate a country having had three leaders was too important to pass up.
Ardern’s also received a shout-out from pop star Rihanna: “Kia ora @jacindaardern! It’s been a big year for you & NZ – congrats!” wrote the singer. Rihanna also called on Ardern to join the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival aiming to support quality education in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Kia ora @jacindaardern! It’s been a big year for you & 🇳🇿 – congrats! How could it get even better? Join @GCMandela100 & pledge new funds to @GPforEducation. I hope you & @MFATgovtNZ agree that educating every child can change the world! @claralionelfdn https://t.co/pQsqivFgMU
— Rihanna (@rihanna) September 18, 2018
New Zealand suffragists pulled together almost 32,000 signatures in 1893 in order to show widespread support for their cause, with legislation allowing women to vote becoming law on 19 September. New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote, later inspiring similar movements globally with Australia following in 1902.