Firstly, a warm and humble thank you to Kate Sheppard, her Tangata Whenua suffragette sister; Meri Te Tai Mangakahia and the many women who stood with them in order for women in this country to have the basic freedom of having a voice in the democratic process of this country.
Without these women, women in this country wouldn’t have had a voice at the time that we did.
They stood for a woman’s truth, despite the obvious dissention… and won.
On Monday the 15th September we marched on Parliament.
The public have probably heard that the beautiful 2m high statue of Kate Sheppard, inscribed with messages from people all over the country, denouncing domestic violence as our national shame, was at the last minute declined entry to Parliament because a ‘spat’ broke out between the Speaker of the House and our National office.
Irrespective of this, it didn’t matter in the end.
Kate will find a beautiful home where she will be appreciated.
Currently she is being displayed in the National Library of New Zealand, before going on a hikoi to Auckland. She’s available to the public so go and check her out.
There are some poignant and inspiring messages of hope, making us even more committed to eliminating domestic violence in this country.
The biggest coup of the day however was that like minded people came together to show their dissatisfaction at the oppressive nature of domestic violence in this country and it’s destructive nature of keeping victims silent.
We all stood for them. And that‘s a pretty powerful thing when you see it in action.
To the men that marched alongside us; it was a privilege. What a relief to see men taking responsibility for violence in our country and putting themselves out there, saying that it’s simply not good enough and that change needs to come about.
Thanks for being willing to be the change, understanding victim blaming and wanting to be part of a way forward that supports victims and perpetrators to live a life free of violence.
We only saw one male politician of note however and we certainly didn’t see any standing of the steps of parliament supporting their female colleagues in their korero.
Some speeches were more original and well thought out than others and it was good to see some preferred to go beyond their party rhetoric and actually talk specifics about policy and a convincingly collaborative way forward.
But of course they were probably all running around in a panic worrying about what it was that Kim Dotcom was about to unleash on the National government in his ‘moment of truth’.
And while some of the political parties have pieced together really good policies around domestic violence and the safety of women and children, we still have to wonder just how much they are prepared to stand by those policies if elected.
Especially seeing that some of those men who have previously made promises to spearhead cross party talks, moving forward, were conspicuous in their absence?
We didn’t expect John Key to be there. His priorities are clearly in big business.
We did expect to see some of the other party leaders or hopefuls, especially if they want our vote.
As we come to the final hours before the election tomorrow, we ask that you take one last look at each party’s policy around domestic violence.
If it seems like they aren’t prepared to make real change, then they probably aren’t.
If women and children aren’t the highest priority on their political agenda; why not?
Are the value of women and children in our society reflected in these policies?
The march was a call to action.
A plea to the policy makers, the government and the public to make sure that the safety of women and children in this country are paramount.
Make your voice heard and vote for women and children this election.
And to the boys. Those male politicians who promise so much at this time of year.
Where the bloody hell were ya?