100 years of campaigning
Last week, as Matamata ladies gathered with a cup of tea and a scone, their thoughts rested with women and children around the world in need of support.
Last Wednesday was the 100-year anniversary of International Women’s Day, which was marked by the Matamata branch of the National Council of Women at Firth Tower.
Joan Stanley said International Women’s Day was a time to stop and think about women across the globe.
‘‘We are celebrating the past, the present and looking forward to the future of women,’’ Mrs Stanley said.
A theme is given to each year and 2011 will see many women band together with the goal of equalising access to education, training, science and technology to give a pathway to decent work for women.
More than 41 million girls internationally are denied a primary education – a statistic even the women in Matamata hope to help change.
‘‘ It is about ordinary women doing ordinary things but really those things are extraordinary,’’ Mrs Stanley said.
The day was celebrated with a morning tea.
Many of the ladies read out stories of women struggling in different cultures.
National Council of Women president Mary McIntyre has represented the equality of women for many years and said the group does its best to help women and children in any way possible.
‘‘You think about the women in other parts of the world who don’t have the advantages we do and want to help them.’’
The ladies were taken back through the history of Matamata women and of Firth Tower.
Mrs Stanley said women in Matamata had played a significant role over the past 100 years, from the arrival of the Maori women in Waharoa, to the first women missionaries and later the pioneers who soon formed a small community.
A majority of Matamata’s rich history is stored away at Firth Tower – families, weddings, birthdays and newspapers that back date to 1918.
International Women’s Day started in 1911 when inequality spurred many women to be more vocal and active in campaigning for change. The day was first honoured in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, where more than one million men and women rallied.
Chatting away: Maureen Adams, right, talks to her friend Mildred Madill over a muffin at the International Women’s Day celebrations at Firth Tower. Recital: Eunice Alger reads out a story about women struggling in different cultures.