A last-minute appeal by AWFL president Mrs Daldy to Members of Parliament to support women's suffrage.
Today in 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections after the new Electoral Act was signed into law by the Governor, Lord Glasgow. It had taken years of campaigning and petitioning by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Women’s Franchise Leagues and others to achieve this milestone.
The minutes for the first meeting of the Auckland Women’s Franchise League (AWFL) after that historic occasion note `a very large attendance of ladies’, congratulatory letters and telegrams were read and a resolution was passed to send thank you letters to Auckland MPs who supported the bill.
However, the three AWFL minute books held in Special Collections show that the women did not rest on their laurels. By February 1894, the organisation had changed its name to the Auckland Women’s Political League (AWPL) and had set objectives, including providing women with opportunities to learn and discuss matters of social, political and public interest, securing justice for women through equitable marriage, divorce, and child custody laws, controlling the sale of alcohol, suppressing gambling, and maintaining free and compulsory education.
Other issues raised over the years in the minutes include equal pay, the right of women to stand for parliament (won in 1919) and the appointment of women as JPs, jurors and as police to work with women and children.
Jo Birks, Special Collections
Auckland Women’s Political League. Minutes and other records of the Auckland Women’s Political League, 1892-1916. MSS & Archives 2009/6, Special Collections, University of Auckland Library.