Women past and present, Kim Worthington

Women Equality Power: Helen Clark: Selected Speeches from a Life of Leadership
Allen and Unwin, $45.00,
ISBN 9781988547053

Women Now: The Legacy of Female Suffrage
Bronwyn Labrum (ed)
Te Papa Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994146007

If there was ever a year in which to publish a collection of Helen Clark’s speeches, 2018 was it. This was, after all, the year in which New Zealand celebrated the 125th anniversary of the granting of female suffrage, the first nation in the world to do so. This not only gave women the right to vote, but ultimately led to women being able to enter parliament (although this took a further 30-odd years) – and finally become leaders of the nation. It was also the year in which one of Clark’s Labour Party mentees, Jacinda Ardern, became our third female New Zealand prime minister, gave birth while in office and, after a very short period of maternity leave, resumed her professional role. This is not irrelevant to both books under review – Ardern writes the foreword to Clark’s collected speeches, is mentioned more than once in Clark’s later speeches, and in Women Now. 2018 was also the year in which the #MeToo movement gained its most traction worldwide, something that is referred to several times in both books under review.

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