Over at No Minister Psycho Milt laments a Third of women still believe they don't have equal rights in New Zealand (interestingly 16 per cent of men believed that women did not have equal rights either). He believes that the respondents didn't definition of rights, or just that the respondents who did not believe equality had been achieved in New Zealand were, in his words, just into 'special pleading.'
Homepaddock touched briefly on the reason for this perception gap, formal versus substantive equality. I suppose today is a good day to reflect on the differences between the two types of equality given that today New Zealand women achieved a formal right to vote. However it wasn't until 1919 that New Zealand women were eligible to stand for election to parliament. So the question of the day is when democratic equality for New Zealand was been achieved if in indeed it has been achieved at all?
Those who believe in formal equality might say it was 115 years ago today or maybe when right to stand for parliament was enshrined in which case the date pushes out to 1919. Some who believe in substantive equality might say 1933 was a watershed day as a woman stood in our house of representatives as an elected member, or perhaps the day the first woman took her seat in Cabinet or became Prime Minister.
But in general most who believe in substantive equality would point out that 75 years after the first woman took her seat in parliament, the proportion of numbers hasn't increased to a point where we can say New Zealand has achieved substantive democratic equality when there are only 40 women MPs elected to our parliament out of a total of 122 seats and 7 female cabinet ministers of which only 2 made it on to the front bench.
So in answer to Milt's question, even in the case of democracy where New Zealand women have had formal rights to vote stand for parliament enshrined for decades the question of whether we have achieved 'equal rights' is still very much up for debate and very much coloured by individual ideology.