This year marks the 125th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement, which gave all women in Aotearoa the right to vote.

Archna Tandon migrated to New Zealand in 1990, from Delhi, India. Her experiences as a migrant inspired her to establish the Canterbury Indian Women’s Group, and encouraged her involvement in Shakti, an ethnic women’s support group. Shaktisupports women to overcome barriers associated with migration, as well as to end all forms of violence and discrimination against migrant women.

To celebrate Archna’s contributions and involvement in her community, we invited her to answer the following questions about Suffrage 125, and the work she does to support women in our communities.

What does celebrating suffrage 125 mean to you?

It is the celebration of a historical movement that was shaped by two main themes: equal political rights for women, and a determination to use them for the moral reform of society. It was the grassroots movement for early gender equality, which encouraged women to participate in responsible decision-making roles for society at large.

What inspired you to become involved with the Canterbury Indian Women’s Group?

Personal experiences of nearly 30 years in New Zealand encouraged me to form the Canterbury Indian Women’s Group. This group supports and empowers Indian women in their settlement journeys through capacity building, education, training, and social networking. We also promote our diverse culture and heritage, and celebrate our successes.

How do you think the Canterbury Indian Women’s Group benefits the women involved?

The Canterbury Indian Women’s Group gives women a platform to network and support each other. A recent success of the group was the 2017 Women’s Expo. This event enabled women to promote their businesses, skills, services and cultures, and learn from the various businesses, and health and social service providers.

What is your message to women from an ethnic background?

Believe in yourself, walk tall, accept challenges, communicate – ask for support, and lastly, keep a good balance while living between two cultures.

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