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Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard

Overview
Katherine Wilson Sheppard (10 March 1847 – 13 July 1934)Some sources, eg Dictionary of New Zealand Biography give a birth year of 1847; others eg Encyclopedia of New Zealand (1966) give a birth year of 1848. was the most prominent member of New Zealand's women's suffrage
Women's suffrage in New Zealand
Women's suffrage in New Zealand was an important political issue in the late 19th century. Of countries presently independent, New Zealand was the first to give women the vote in modern times....

 movement, and is the country's most famous suffragette
Suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Is it right that your mother, your sister... should be classed with criminals and lunatics... ? Is it right that while the loafer, the gambler, the drunkard, and even the wife-beater has a vote, earnest, educated and refined women are denied it?... Is it right... that a mother... should be thought unworthy of a vote that is freely given to the blasphemer, the liar, the seducer, and the profligate?

Is it right? (1892)

All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome.

As quoted in Women, Politics, And Power : A Global Perspective (2007) by Melanie M. Hughes, p. 47
Encyclopedia
Katherine Wilson Sheppard (10 March 1847 – 13 July 1934)Some sources, eg Dictionary of New Zealand Biography give a birth year of 1847; others eg Encyclopedia of New Zealand (1966) give a birth year of 1848. was the most prominent member of New Zealand's women's suffrage
Women's suffrage in New Zealand
Women's suffrage in New Zealand was an important political issue in the late 19th century. Of countries presently independent, New Zealand was the first to give women the vote in modern times....

 movement, and is the country's most famous suffragette
Suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

. Because New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

, Sheppard's work had a considerable impact on women's suffrage movements in other countries.

Early life


Sheppard was born Catherine Wilson Malcolm in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 to Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 parents Jemima Crawford Souter and Andrew Wilson Malcolm. She generally preferred to spell her given name "Katherine", or abbreviate it to "Kate". She received a good education, and was noted for her intellectual ability. Kate's father had a love of music which he passed on to her. For a time she lived with her uncle, a minister of the free church at Nairn. In 1869, several years after the death of her father, Sheppard was taken by her mother to Christchurch
Christchurch
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...

. She married Walter Allen Sheppard three years later, and their only child Douglas was born on 8 December 1880.

In 1885, Sheppard became involved in establishing the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union, part of the larger temperance movement
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

. Sheppard's involvement arose primarily from her religious beliefs, which she had derived from her mother.

Woman's suffrage movement


Discovering that much of the support for moderation came from women, the Temperance Union increasingly became active in advocating the cause of women's suffrage, an area in which Sheppard quickly became prominent. Her interest in women's suffrage, however, went beyond practical considerations regarding temperance: her views were made well known with her statement that "all that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome." Sheppard proved to be a powerful speaker and a skilled organiser, and quickly built support for her cause.

The Temperance Union presented a petition in favour of women's suffrage to Parliament in 1891. It was supported in Parliament by John Hall
John Hall (New Zealand)
Sir John Hall was born in Kingston upon Hull, England, and later became the 12th Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was also Mayor of Christchurch.-Migration to New Zealand:...

, Alfred Saunders
Alfred Saunders
Alfred Saunders was a 19th century New Zealand politician.He was elected onto the Nelson Provincial Council representing Waimea South in 1855 and remained a councillor until his election of Superintendent for the Nelson Province from 1865 to 1867. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Waimea...

, and the Premier
Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Prime Minister of New Zealand is New Zealand's head of government consequent on being the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the Parliament of New Zealand...

, John Ballance
John Ballance
John Ballance served as the 14th Premier of New Zealand at the end of the 19th century, and was the founder of the Liberal Party .-Early life:...

. Sheppard played a considerable part in organising the petition. A second petition, larger than the first, was presented the following year, and a third, still larger, was presented in 1893. That year, a women's suffrage bill was successfully passed, granting women full voting rights. Sheppard herself was widely acknowledged as the leader of the women's suffrage movement.

Sheppard had no time to rest, however, as the 1893 election
New Zealand general election, 1893
The New Zealand general election of 1893 was held on Tuesday, 28 November in the general electorates, and on Wednesday, 20 December in the Māori electorates to elect a total of 74 MPs to the 12th session of the New Zealand Parliament...

 was only ten weeks away. Along with the Temperance Union, she was highly active in getting women to register as voters. Despite the short notice, nearly two thirds of women cast a vote.

National Council of Women



The year after women's suffrage was achieved, Sheppard returned to England for a short time, where she met prominent British suffragettes and gave a number of speeches. Upon her return home, she was elected president of the newly-founded National Council of Women of New Zealand
National Council of Women of New Zealand
The National Council of Women of New Zealand is a lobbying group for women's rights. The Council was established in 1896.-Establishment of the Council:...

 which had considerable influence on public opinion. Sheppard later became involved in the production of the council's newspaper, the White Ribbon.

Many ideas that Sheppard promoted were related to improving the situation and status of women - in particular, she was concerned about establishing legal and economic independence of women from men. She was not wholly occupied with advancing women's rights, however, also finding time to promote political reforms such as proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

, binding referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

s, and a Cabinet
New Zealand Cabinet
The Cabinet of New Zealand functions as the policy and decision-making body of the executive branch within the New Zealand government system...

 elected directly by Parliament.

Later life



In 1903, Sheppard stepped down from her positions at the National Council of Women due to ill health. Later that year, she and her recently retired husband moved to England, intending to retire there. She briefly stopped in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, meeting American suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt was a women's suffrage leader who campaigned for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which gave U.S. women the right to vote in 1920...

. In London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, she was active in promoting women's suffrage in Britain, but was soon unable to continue her work due to her deteriorating health.

In 1904 Sheppard returned to New Zealand. She remained relatively inactive in political circles, but continued to write. While she did not recover her former energy, her health was no longer declining, and she continued to influence the New Zealand women's movement to a great extent. In 1916, Sheppard and a group of other prominent suffragettes were able to revitalise the National Council of Women, which had gone into recess.

In 1925, Sheppard married William Sidney Lovell-Smith, her first husband having died in 1915 in England. Lovell-Smith died only four years later. Sheppard herself died in Christchurch on 13 July 1934. She is buried at Addington Cemetery in a family grave.

Commemoration


Sheppard is considered to be an important figure in New Zealand's history. A memorial to her exists in Christchurch, and her image appears on New Zealand's Ten dollar note
New Zealand dollar
The New Zealand dollar is the currency of New Zealand. It also circulates in the Cook Islands , Niue, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands. It is divided into 100 cents....

. The Fendalton
Fendalton
Fendalton is a suburb of Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand.-History:Fendalton was originally known at Fendall Town, named after the original settler of the land, Walpole Cheshire Fendall . Fendall emigrated from Yorkshire in 1850 and took up land north of the Waimairi Stream...

 house in 83 Clyde Road where the Sheppards lived from 1888 to 1902, known as the Kate Sheppard House, is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust is a non-profit trust that advocates for the protection of ancestral sites and heritage buildings in New Zealand...

 as a Category I heritage building, as many of the events relevant to women's suffrage happened there.

A play about Sheppard and the Temperance movement 'O Temperance' written by acclaimed New Zealand playwright Mervyn Thompson was first performed in 1972 at the Christchurch Court Theatre. Actress Judy Cleine played Sheppard.

External links