A few days ago, I arrived in New Zealand to visit my sister who is studying abroad at the University of Auckland. As I was wandering around, getting a feel for the city, I stumbled across the Auckland Women’s Suffrage Memorial, a beautifully constructed public art piece that combines colorful tiling, a fountain and a set of stairs to commemorate the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement. This movement is especially significant to feminist history because these women were the first in the world to successfully petition their government for the right to vote, finally winning out in 1893.
As I admired the memorial, I was approached by a woman named Margaret Wilson who said that the memorial is currently being threatened by urban developers who want to replace it with a new “more aesthetic” set of stairs. She and other members of the National Council of Women of New Zealand are circulating a petition to preserve the memorial in perpetuity.
Worldwide, women not only have to fight to earn our place in history, we must fight to preserve the memory of it. This memorial is a triumphant reminder of a major milestone in women’s history, the threat to its survival is a tragic reminder of the need for a continued fight. You can get involved in saving the memorial, no matter where you are in the world, by visiting this site, joining their facebook group, and/or by writing to the Auckland City Council. Let’s tell city planners that all women care about our shared history, and save the Auckland Women’s Suffrage Memorial!