1869, Mary Muller: One small step for women

Mary Muller, aka Femmina, about 1900. (Alexander Turnbull Library)
Mary Muller, aka Femmina, about 1900. (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Mary Muller, writing under the pen name Femmina, published An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand.

It was, says historian Raewyn Dalziel in the DNZB, the first pamphlet in the country to advocate the vote for women.

Muller wrote under a pseudonym because her husband opposed her views, and her identity was not revealed publicly until after he died in the 1890s.

Through the acknowledgement of leading suffragist Kate Sheppard, Muller eventually took her rightful place on the public record as a pioneer of women's political rights in the first country where women won the right to vote in national elections.

Her forced anonymity was but one measure of the daunting mountain women had to climb on the way to success.

But it was she who took the first steps and for doing that she is our New Zealander of the Year for 1869.

Further reading:
Biography of Mary Müller, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Review of 'An appeal to the men of New Zealand', Nelson Examiner, 1 September 1869

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