During the royal tour of New Zealand, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, gave a speech (her second as a royal) about the importance of the New Zealand suffrage movement on the 125th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. She spoke at the Government House at a reception hosted by Governor Dame Patsy Reddy.
“The achievements of the women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,” Markle said, in a room that included her husband, Price Harry, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Ardern is the third woman to lead the country.
Her speech centered on the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand, but she connected that specific struggle to the overall goals of feminism and human rights.
“Women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women,” Markle said, expanding her speech beyond the context of New Zealand. “But also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of all people. Including those members of society who have been marginalized, whether through reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.”
She she ended her speech with a quote from Kate Sheppard, who was the most prominent member of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand and later was active in getting women registered to vote and involved in politics. “All that seperates, whether race, class, creed or sex, is inhumane, and must be overcome.”