As with other regions, the boundaries here are subject to debate. We are including Australia, New Zealand, and the southern, western, and central Pacific Islands, including Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, areas with very different traditions of settlement and providing diverse relations of Indigenous and settler peoples. Australia and New Zealand have enshrined much of the British legal tradition but the former was far in advance of the ‘homeland’ in enfranchising all women in 1893. In contrast, the first female enfranchisement legislation in Australia’s Queensland and Western Australia did not include Aboriginal women. In 1997 New Zealand elected its first female prime minister, Jenny Shipley, while Australia chose Julia Gillard ten years later. The smaller Pacific Islands have their own traditions stemming from Indigenous and various imperial cultures. Women have stood in the forefront of Maori protests about land, sovereignty, and racial equality and alliances among Pacific islands women have also emerged. Violence and poverty are also widespread among Indigenous populations everywhere. There are nonetheless promising signs.  In 2001 the Pacific’s Francophone territories “require[d] political parties to nominate equal numbers of women and men on their electoral lists”, producing a marked increase in representation (George 2011).

Oceania Suffrage Timeline

Right to Vote
Right to Stand for Election
June 12th, 1902 June 12th, 1902
Australia (Aboriginal)
June 18th, 1962 June 18th, 1962
April 17th, 1963 May 5th, 1963
November 15th, 1967 November 15th, 1967
Marshall Islands
May 1st, 1979 May 1st, 1979
Federated States of Micronesia
November 3rd, 1979 November 3rd, 1979
January 3rd, 1968 January 3rd, 1968
New Zealand
September 19th, 1893 October 29th, 1919
April 2nd, 1979 April 2nd, 1979
Papua New Guinea
February 15th, 1964 February 27th, 1963
October 1990 October 1990
Solomon Islands
1978 1978
1960 1960
January 1st, 1947 January 1st, 1967
November 1975 November 1975


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