Katherine Wilson “Kate” Sheppard (10 March 1847–13 July 1934)[a] was the most prominent member of New Zealand’s Women’s Suffrage and was the country’s most famous suffragette. She also appears on the New Zealand ten-dollar note. Since New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage, Sheppard’s work has had a considerable impact on women’s suffrage movements in several other countries.
he year after women’s suffrage was achieved, Sheppard returned to England for a short time, where she met prominent British suffragettes and gave a number of speeches. Upon her return home, she was elected president of the newly founded National Council of Women of New Zealand which had considerable influence on public opinion. Sheppard later became involved in the production of the council’s newspaper, the White Ribbon.
Many ideas that Sheppard promoted were related to improving the situation and status of women – in particular, she was concerned about establishing legal and economic independence of women from men. She was not wholly occupied with advancing women’s rights, however, also finding time to promote political reforms such as proportional representation, binding referendums, and a Cabinet elected directly by Parliament.