Kate Sheppard is one of the 5 incredible females in History that feature in our 'Phenomenal Women' collection of necklaces. We wanted to dive a little deeper and teach you a little more about WHY we chose to design this pendant and how her life of commitment and determination inspired us. Keep reading to learn more on this absolute Kiwi legend...
Who was Kate Sheppard and Why was she so epic?
Kate Sheppard was a Scottish Born, Kiwi feminist who believed in gender equality and spent her life advocating for women to be able to participate equally in all aspects of society, including the male-dominated politics.
In the late 1800’s, Kate was the leader of the fight to win the right for women to vote in all political decisions. She and other pioneering women campaigned so effectively that in 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world to grant the vote to all women over 21, with many other nations following suit!
Where was Kate from?
Kate was from Scotland originally and moved to NZ with her family after her father had passed away in 1869. Kate was 22 at the time of her arrival into NZ.
Did Kate have any siblings?
Kate had 2 brothers and 2 sisters.
How about a husband?
Kate married 2 years after arriving into New Zealand to a man 12 years her senior who was an established Merchant in Christchurch. They went on to have 1 son together called Douglas.
If Kate was alive today, how old would she be?
Born in 1847, if Kate was still alive today she would be 174 years old!
How did Kate get into her line of work?
An early feminist, Kate strongly believed that women should participate fully in all aspects of society and was a leader in campaigning against such reforms as the abolishment of corsets and other constrictive clothing for women. In an era when women were encouraged to be “ladylike,” she also promoted bicycling and other physical activity for women (Well before the days of the likes of Les Mills, and Lycra!) In 1885 Katebecame a founding member of the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The union realised that if women had the right to vote and representation in parliament it would be easier to achieve social and legislative reforms concerning temperance and the welfare of women and children. In 1887 Kate Sheppard was appointed national superintendent of the franchise and legislation department of the Union.
Later on, Kate helped to establish the National Council of Women (NCW) and became its first president. Among the issues she supported were greater equality in marriage and the right of women to run for Parliament. Although poor health forced her to step down as president in 1903, she remained a prominent figure in the women's rights movement.
What else was going on in the world during this time Kate was making waves?
Coca Cola was invented, as were earmuffs, Crayola Crayons and the first Dishwasher. The Eiffel tower was built and the NYC subway began construction and Guantanamo Bay was opened…
The late 1800’s was definitely a time in which women were not regarded as equal in society, or worthy of an opinion. As Wellington resident Henry Wright wrote, women were ‘recommended to go home, look after their children, cook their husbands’ dinners, empty the slops, and generally attend to the domestic affairs for which Nature designed them’; they should give up ‘meddling in masculine concerns of which they are profoundly ignorant’. Wow.
How did Kate leave her mark on the world?
Through determination and perseverance, Kate’s legacy is one that the world can pay homage to today, for paving the way and fighting for a more equal world in which we now live.
When Kate died in 1934 (aged 87 years) a newspaper obituary proclaimed: “A great woman has gone, whose name will remain an inspiration to the daughters of New Zealand while our history endures.” One way in which Kiwi’s celebrate her incredible passion and determination is by her image appearing on the New Zealand $10 banknote.
Our recent Phenomenal Women collection celebrates Kate through our pendant for Determination which can be found HERE.
‘All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome’ - Kate Sheppard
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