This week has seen the 125th anniversary of the granting of the vote to New Zealand women. There are interesting differences across the world in the degree to which women were extended political rights: below is an edited summary of the suffrage timeline (from our old friend Wikipedia!)
New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in, but not to stand for, parliamentary elections in 1893. Their Cook Island counterparts were included in this enfranchisement and they actually voted before NZ women in their 14 October 1893 elections. (The NZ elections that year weren’t until November 1893).
In the colony of South Australia women could vote in 1894 (which, unlike New Zealand, allowed women to stand for Parliament).
In 1906, the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland was the first country in the world to implement truly universal full suffrage, i.e. both active and passive suffrage, by being the first country in the world to give women full political rights, i.e. the rights both to vote and to run for office. It was the second country in the world and the first in Europe to give women the right to vote. The world’s first female members of parliament were elected in Finland the following year.
In Europe, the last jurisdiction to grant women the right to vote was the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, in 1991; (This is the smallest Swiss canton – about. 14,100 inhabitants in 1990.) Women in Switzerland obtained the right to vote at federal level in 1971, and at local cantonal level between 1959 and 1972, except for Appenzell in 1989/1990,
In Saudi Arabia women were first allowed to vote in December 2015 in the municipal elections.
Compare with these dates the Presbyterian admission of women into ordained office. In 1955 the first women elders were approved. Heather Mcfarlane’s aunt was one of the first three women to attend a General Assembly as an elder. It wasn’t until 1965 that Margaret Reid Martin was ordained to the ministry of the PCANZ here at St Andrew’s. She was later the first woman Moderator who was a minister. Margaret died last month in Auckland. Recent research has been revisited to celebrate 50 years of women’s ordination in the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. It makes encouraging and sobering reading as progress has been made but also many women ministers still experience discrimination and difficulties in their work. https://www.presbyterian.org.nz/about-us/research-resources/research-papers/women-of-the-burning-bush-still-burning-25-years-on
Of course, women have worked hard for their homes, family, at work and in churches for many more years than these. Whether or not they are in a position to be admitted to offices of different sorts they all in their different ways love and work, plan and initiate, organise and implement. They are very significant people for many others who populate their lives.
Both women and men contribute the Feminine to our corporate lives and so make life more balanced and rounded. The Feminine brings creativity, fecundity, and an organic quality which grounds us in the earth from which we spring and to which we will return. Both men and women have a Feminine side. This year 125 years after the granting of the vote to women in New Zealand let’s celebrate the Feminine in all of us and give her a voice.
This Sunday many voices will lead us in the Gathering for Humanity Sunday. We hope there will be plenty of humanity present to enjoy the experience. Afterwards the Exploring Faith Study group will meet. See you there!
Pics above: The Kate Sheppard camellia, the Suffrage cake at Cuppa and Chat on Wednesday and the newly ordained Margaret Reid Martin.
To view the full e-news click on this link : https://mailchi.mp/8abf473c2f83/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-1419117