Kate Malcolm Sheppard, 1847 – 1934
American women certainly had no exclusive claim to the quest for woman suffrage. Women around the world worked tirelessly for political equality, experiencing much the same frustrations and, ultimately successes as our suffragists did.
Katherine (Kate) Malcolm was born around March 10, 1847 in Liverpool, England, and moved to New Zealand in the late 1860s, where she married Walter Allen Sheppard in 1871. Far ahead of her time, Kate believed firmly in full equality for women in all aspects of society, including political equality. She also worked for dress reform, advocating freeing women from restrictive corsets, and encouraging them to exercise and be physically active.
In 1885 she joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and two years later began to work for woman suffrage. A fervent advocate, she wrote pamphlets, organized meetings and lectures, and presented a series of petitions to Parliament, including one with over 30,000 signatures. New Zealand finally granted women the right to vote in 1893, becoming the first nation to grant universal suffrage. Sheppard was later active in woman suffrage movements in other countries, including the United States. Her likeness is now on the New Zealand $10 note, as well as a commemorative stamp.
Happy birthday Kate Sheppard!