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Two women activists’ stories commemorate Suffrage Day 2019

Media release: 18 September 2019

To mark the 126th anniversary of women’s suffrage on 19 September, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage has added the stories of two incredible women activists to NZHistory, Senior Historian Lynette Townsend said today.

“These new online stories about Anjum Rahman and Bella Simpson show the way women continually adapt and respond to new challenges and contemporary issues,” Lynette Townsend says.

“They are continuing the inspirational work of women throughout history, from those first suffragists in 1893 to today.

“Anjum Rahman is a Muslim woman who has been actively advocating for women’s rights and against racism in New Zealand since the 1980s.

“She has drawn on her own personal experiences of racism and gender bias as motivation for her work. Her overarching desire is to create a better world for her own children and for all New Zealanders.

“From an early age Bella Simpson has been speaking out on the rights of transgender people and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) rights.

“Speaking at her first human rights conference when she was just 12 Bella Simpson has been active on many fronts, and has been involved in global, national and local conversations.

“In 2018 she spoke at Government House for the launch of Suffrage 125 – the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand.

“The video stories of these two women are on the NZHistory site at: Women, the Vote and Activism: Lynette Townsend said.

Further information 

On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Visit the NZHistory website to view the new stories in an online exhibition Women, the Vote and Activism, historical information, and a database listing the names of those on the main suffrage petition submitted 


Updated on 1st October 2019