120 mile­stone for women’s vote

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By TARANNUM SHAIKH

To­mor­row marks 120 years since women have had the right to vote.

Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land doc­toral stu­dent Oc­tavia Calder-Dawe is one of many women who will be cel­e­brat­ing the mile­stone. But af­ter more than a cen­tury of women’s right to vote she also says the fight for equal rights isn’t over.

‘‘The word ‘ fem­i­nist’ is al­most an in­sult to some peo­ple – that’s just crazy, ev­ery­one should be a fem­i­nist. We’re fac­ing some re­ally knotty prob­lems. One place to start would be chal­leng­ing the rigid, gen­dered rules and ex­pec­ta­tions so­ci­ety pushes on to men and women.’’

As part of her PhD in psy­chol­ogy, Ms Calder- Dawe is re­search­ing the ev­ery­day sex­ism present in pop­u­lar me­dia.

‘‘I wanted to work with young peo­ple . . . and de­velop some ideas for pos­i­tive so­cial change. I’ve been re­ally in­spired by the stu­dents who I’ve worked with so far.’’

Talk­ing with fam­i­lies and ed­u­cat­ing schools about gen­der stereo­types is one way she be­lieves equal rights can be pur­sued. Her thoughts are echoed by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion which is cel­e­brat­ing the 120-year an­niver­sary by in­tro­duc­ing three ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives – class­room re­sources, an aca­demic schol­ar­ship and a poster com­pe­ti­tion.

The com­mis­sion’s new teach­ing re­source called ‘‘Your Voice, Your Choice: Votes for Women’’ has a range of ac­tiv­i­ties to help ed­u­cate stu­dents.

‘‘[It’s] de­signed to de­velop stu­dents’ un­der­stand­ing of New Zealand women’s cam­paign to win the right to vote, and to en­cour­age voter par­tic­i­pa­tion to­day,’’ chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Robert Pe­den says.

It also launched the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion Suf­frage Schol­ar­ships for post­grad­u­ate stu­dents.

School stu­dents have the chance to win book vouch­ers for them­selves and schools, by en­ter­ing the Take Part Through Art poster com­pe­ti­tion.

En­tries close on Novem­ber 1 at 5pm.

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