Katherine Sheppard

by Kelly from San Diego

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Katherine Sheppard
Unknown author / Public domain via Wikimedia

"A great woman has gone whose name will remain an inspiration to the daughters of New Zealand, while our history endures." This quote was read at the funeral for Katherine Sheppard.

The political advancement of women in New Zealand was brought about by a handful of courageous women, particularly Kate Sheppard. Kate Sheppard was born on March 10, 1847 in Liverpool, England. Her full name was Katherine Wilson Sheppard, but she preferred the name Kate. Kate was only 15 when her father died in 1862. Her mother took her and her two older brothers over to New Zealand. In 1868, they settled in Christchurch. In 1871, Sheppard got married to a merchant named Walter Allen Sheppard. Together they had a son named Douglas. She was an active member in her church and was very religious.

Three heroic traits that a hero should possess are being a leader, strong, and devoted. Leadership is important because lacking this skill keeps people from knowing what is expected for them to accomplish. Strong willpower allows the hero to get things done. And lastly the hero needs to be devoted to their cause, while having the mindset of not giving up until something is accomplished. Katherine Sheppard portrays great leadership, a strong will for what's right, and a devoted mindset: all of which signifies that she deserves the title of a hero. 

With a strong will to get something done, Katherine Sheppard has proven that hard work pays off. "She was instrumental in making New Zealand the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote" (Biography Reference Center). By being able to accomplish her goal, Sheppard became a major icon for the women's rights movement. To say one is strong is one thing, but to be able to prove it is another. Sheppard was able to prove it: "The practical means of ending a wife's economic and legal dependence on her husband was given in the NCW proposal that there should be a law 'attaching a certain just share of the husband's earnings or income' for the wife's separate use, 'payable if she so desires it, into her own account'" (Biography). This law states that women shouldn't have to worry about any political matters and to just leave them to the man. But that was what Sheppard did not want; she thought and believed women should be able to make their own income. Katherine Sheppard has proven that strong willpower helps to put an end to sexist remarks against women not being able to vote. 

Kate was able to band together many organizations and people to help support the women's rights movement. "Kate Sheppard is recognized as the leader of the fight to win the right for New Zealand women to vote" (Kate Sheppard). Every great battle, event, or movement always has an amazing leader that is meant to lead the group to victory. That's where Sheppard comes into play; she was the almighty leader that set up everything and organized what everyone was supposed to do to be part of the movement. Without a good leader, how would the people know what to do? The whole thing might as well come crumbling down and for everyone to just give up. But NO, that is not what the people want. They want a fierce leader that will stand up for what they believe: "Kate Sheppard stood up for what she believed was right for the female community. She believed everyone deserved the right to speak up in anything from politics to society in general" (Kate Sheppard). Sheppard strives to accomplish one goal, and that goal was to get women the right to vote. And being a woman herself made it difficult; men thought women should just stay at home and do household duties. But Sheppard thought differently; she wanted to be able to make political decisions and have the right to vote. 

Kate Sheppard's determination to giving women equal rights is only possible because of all the devotion and time she put into the movement: "Among the issues she supported were the greater equality in marriage and the right of women to run for Parliament. Although poor health forced her to step down as president of the NCW in 1903, she remained a prominent figure in the women's right movement" (Biography Reference Center). Although Katherine had health issues keeping her from doing the work she did before, she continued to show great support for her cause. Instead of fully retiring when in poor health, she continued to keep helping with her movement. Sheppard proved she was a devoted abolitionist and suffragist: "She organized petitions to Parliament asking for women to have the right to vote and persuaded Sir John Hall, a leading Member of Parliament, to support them" (Kate Sheppard). Sheppard had to get support from many people and organizations in order to get women the right to vote. She held countless meetings, met with different people, and wrote letters to the press. Sheppard's devotion towards her movement proves that she stood by her belief that women deserve same equality as men. 

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Katherine Sheppard c. 1914
Unknown author / Public domain via Wikimedia

Katherine Wilson Sheppard, a devoted abolitionist and suffragist, took a strong stand in New Zealand for women's rights; her leadership towards what she believed in has left a major impact on other countries. She believed everyone deserved the right to speak up in anything, from politics to society. Katherine Sheppard made a major impact on many people's lives, and inspired many women to follow in her footsteps. Her organization has affected countless of women in this world. She has given women the same equality they deserved and made life easier for us. Sheppard is an inspiration for me and a vast number of people. She stood up for herself and her rights, that's what needs to be done today. Not taking no for an answer, Sheppard only strove to achieve her main purpose, getting women the right to vote. In conclusion, Katherine Sheppard was a remarkable woman who spent countless years working women's equality in New Zealand. Kate should always remembered not only for her work to bring change to New Zealand women by gaining the right to vote, but also for her pride of being a woman, at a time when being a woman was seen as a weakness, and this is inspiring to me.

Page created on 7/25/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/13/2021 2:59:42 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

New Zealand History - Kate Sheppard biography

Extra Info

Work Cited

"Kate Sheppard, 1847-1934." Kate Sheppard 1847-1931. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

"Lightner, Barb. "Kate Sheppard." Kate Sheppard (2009): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web.   5 Dec. 2012.

"Sheppard, Katherine Wilson." - Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.

Sheppard, Kate." Britannica Biographies (2012): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 5 Dec.      2012.

Sheppard, Kate (1847-1934)." Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the       Ages. Ed. Anne Commire and Deborah Klezmer. Vol. 2. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 2007. 1713. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Dec. 2012