Sunday, September 14, 2008

75 years

Today (according to The Press) or yesterday (according to Wikipedia) marks a significant anniversary in our democracy: the election of Elizabeth McCombs as New Zealand's first female MP. McCombs succeeded to her husband's seat, but she won more votes than him, and was a politician in her own right, having been active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Progressive Liberal Association, Social Democratic Party, and Labour Party. She was the second woman to win a seat on the Christchurch City Council, and had previously contested the 1928 and 1931 elections as a Labour candidate.

McCombs took her seat in the House on September 19, 1933 - 40 years to the day since women had won the vote. Since then, 97 other women have been elected to Parliament (54 of them solely under MMP) - but she was the first, and that is worth remembering.