Ministry of Justice celebrates Women’s Suffrage Day, reveals representation data

by Sol Dolor21 Sep 2018

The Ministry of Justice has celebrated the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, recognising the extraordinary contribution women have made to justice in the country.

The Electoral Act, which made New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world to give all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections, was passed into law on 19 September 1893.

“That achievement was the result of years of advocacy by the Women's Suffrage movement, led by Kate Sheppard. Her contribution, with the help of many others, was instrumental to the rights women have today,” the ministry said.

The ministry also revealed that women make up 68% of its people and 51% of its senior managers. The ministry also highlighted women who have been pioneers of the justice sector since the late 19th century.

They include:

  • Ethel Benjamin
    • First woman in Australasia admitted to law school (1893)
    • New Zealand's first female lawyer (1897)
  • Dame Augusta Wallace
    • First woman appointed a District Court judge (1976-1994)
  • Annis Somerville
    • Established her own all-women barristers and solicitors practice
    • First Māori Family Court judge (2001)
  • Dame Silvia Cartwright
    • First female chief District Court judge (1989)
    • First woman appointed to the High Court (1993)
    • New Zealand’s second female governor-general (2001)
  • Judith Potter
    • First woman elected President of the New Zealand Law society (1991)
  • Dame Lowell Goddard
    • One of the first two women appointed Queen's Counsel (1988)
    • Thought to be the first person of Māori ancestry appointed to the High Court (1995- 2015)
  • Dame Sian Elias
    • First female chief justice of New Zealand (1999-Present)