Second-term New Zealand MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar this week spoke about the how women born in the generation before her had worked really hard in her birth country India and New Zealand to advance women’s right to vote and ‘that it had ‘opened doors for us’.
“This pride of being the first Indian-born woman MP in the New Zealand Parliament and being part of the continuous momentum kept up for inclusion comes with the huge acknowledgment to all the hard work of our suffragettes!,” she writes on her Facebook page.
“I’m really proud of both countries that I belong to, my birth country and my home country,” she said in her speech at the Parliament.
“I’m here not because of my ethnicity, I’m here not because of my gender, I’m here because of my hard work,” she added.
Parmjeet was elected to the parliament in the 2014 General Election. She holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland, as well as Bachelor and Masters degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Pune in India.
In most other democracies – including Britain and the United States – women did not win the right to the vote until after the First World War.
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of suffrage, she writes: “I must make mention of my parents who gave myself and my three sisters wonderful support and encouragement to make the very best of our opportunities. Realistically, in India this was against a backdrop of an environment of favouring male children but my parents were both enlightened and encouraging in our studies, our sports and culture and eventually the vocations we chose.”
Prior to entering Parliament, Parmar worked as a scientist, businesswoman, broadcaster and community advocate.
On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of the landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
National Party assigns MPs Kanwaljit, Dr Parmjeet key jobs (Asia Samachar, 12 March 2018)