Carrie Chapman Catt

Address at the International Woman Suffrage Alliance Fifth Conference and First Quinquennial - April 26, 1909

Carrie Chapman Catt
April 26, 1909— London, England
Print friendly

(Stenographic Report.)

On a June day, in 1904, the delegated representatives of seven National Woman Suffrage Associations met in a little hall in Berlin. They were there to discuss the practicability of completing a proposed International Union. At that date there were in all the world only ten countries in which Woman Suffrage Organisations could be found. Those of you who were present will well remember the doubt and the misgivings which characterised our deliberations. The doubting delegates questioned whether the times were yet ripe for this radical step; already over-taxed by the weight of the campaigns in their respective countries they questioned whether the possible benefits which might arise from International connection might not be over-balanced by the burden it would impose. There were suspicious delegates also, and they asked hesitatingly whether it was within the bounds of possibilities that suffragists could work together in harmony; especially since they not only would represent differences of race and character, but widely different stages of development of the movement itself.

There were even more serious problems to be considered. Some of our Associations were pledged to universal suffrage, some to municipal, some to suffrage based upon a property or an educational qualification. How could such differences, each defended as it was by intense conviction, be united in a common platform? It was further proposed that our Organisation should consist of National Associations, yet in the face of the well-known racial and political differences which are constantly changing the geographical boundaries of the world, where was the authority to be found who could define a nation? Yet, despite all these obstacles, which at that time seemed to many of our delegates well nigh insurmountable, our International Alliance was founded, for "better or worse," and I think I may now add "till death do us part." Five years have passed away, prosperous, successful, triumphant years; prosperous, for we have known no quarrel or misunderstanding; successful, for the number of National Associations in our Alliance has more than doubled; triumphant, because the gains to our cause within the past five years are more significant in effect and meaning than all the gain which had come in the years preceding. Indeed, when we look back over that little stretch of time and observe the mighty and amazing changes which have come within our movement in that five years, when we hear the reports of the awakening of men and women to the justice of our cause all the way around the world, I am sure there is no pessimist among us who does not realise that at last the tide of woman's enfranchisement is coming in.

I do not wish to take more credit for our Alliance than it deserves. I will be modest in behalf of our Association, and merely say that it has provided one of the many roads which is leading to the Rome of Woman's enfranchisement. In the past five years our Organisation has been able in many places to give strength to the weak, courage to the timid, confidence to the doubting, and, I believe, it has lent something of inspiration to the campaigns of every land. It has urged continuously the formation of new National Associations, and with such good effect that our roll-call of the nations to-day has stretched from 8 to 18. It has stimulated the growth of other Associations, and I believe it has been a spur to increased activity all the way along the line.

It has furnished a much-needed medium of exchange for news and reports, and to-day the suffragists of no land work isolated and alone, but the workers of every country know well the "labourers in the vineyard" of every other country, as well as their methods, their motives and the character of the opposition in that country. Our Association has been able to correct many of the malicious falsehoods, which are so continuously and mysteriously circulated in the press of all lands, concerning the operation of Woman Suffrage in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. These are some of the aims and the effects of our International Alliance, which must appeal to practical minds. But there are many of us who have felt the result of a force infinitely superior to any of these. It is the education which our Association together has given us all concerning the significance, the magnitude, and the grandeur of our own movement. Something of it we knew before, but we have been granted a deeper insight, a clearer vision; it has lifted us above the sordid struggle of each nation to a realisation that our movement is one ordered by the eternities. Diligently and persistently we work each in our own land, but we work with the consciousness that behind us is that mysterious, omnipotent, divine, law of evolution, which from the beginning has compelled human society continually to accept new rights and new liberties, even though that Society has ever shrunk back in terror from each new experiment and has clung tenaciously to that environment with which it has been most familiar. We have been baptised in that spirit of the 20th century which the world calls Internationalism; it is a sentiment like love, or religion, or patriotism, which is to be experienced rather than defined in words. And yet, those of us who have come under its exalting influence recognise in it a motive more impelling than any we have experienced before. Under the influence of this new spirit we realise that we are not enlisted for the work of our own countries alone, but that before us stretches the task of emancipating the women of the civilised world. Nay, more, since in the progress of things the uncivilised are destined to become civilised, our task will not be fulfilled until the women of the whole world have been rescued from those discriminations and injustices which in every land are visited upon them by law and custom. This new spirit is passing all the way along our lines, and is destined to reach even the remotest little hamlet in each of our auxiliaries, and there it will whisper hope and courage and understanding to every woman who has espoused our cause. Perhaps some of you will say that this is a vague sentiment; it does not matt er what it may be called, it is a force which is making our women more efficient workers for the cause of woman suffrage! Already, it has given a new impetus to our movement, and we are asking each other in awe what possibilities may not yet come through the fraternity and the co-operation of our International connection if we can but keep this spirit pure and uncontaminated.

We are preparing ourselves for work; hard work. We have begun by solving our most vexed problems. We have found a satisfactory definition of a nation; it is a country which possesses the authority to enfranchise its own women. We have been able to find a platform upon which all suffragists can stand together; it is the freedom which we give to the workers of every country to secure the suffrage for the women of that land upon the same terms the suffrage is now, or may be, granted to men. We believe in the autonomy of nations, and we do not interfere with the campaigns, nor the rights, nor the methods of any one of our auxiliaries. Nevertheless, we have mobilised an international army; allies of 18 nations are we, enlisted for life in the cause of the womanhood of the world. The hearts of our soldiers are everywhere filled with joy and hope and certainty of victory. In our 18 affiliated nations, and we must add Iceland and Austria, where vigorous movements are in progress, and say, in these 20 nations, not a note of discouragement has come in the reports sent to our Convention.

It is true we must admit there has been something of a spirit of reaction in two of our nations. One of these is Russia. When our Russian sisters entered our Alliance three years ago there was a temporary lull in the oppressions of the Russian Government, and movements of philanthropy, education and reform, long overdue, sprung up all over the Empire like mushrooms in a night, and the hearts of the people were filled with the hope that freedom had come at last. But the respite was brief, and directly, the old exodus of exiles to Siberia began once more; the scaffolds were again brought into requisition and hangings for minor crimes, and for no crimes, took place continually. The man, or the woman, who had spoken too loudly for that liberty which one day the world will recognise as the inherent right of every human being, was mysteriously silenced. The police now have orders that they may open all letters going into Russia or coming out of it; the despatches are censored so that we do not know the truth; meetings in general are forbidden. The Government gives out the report that peace now reigns, and the people are content. Yet, in the last three years there have been something like 3,500 sentences to death, and the majority have been condemned for offences which in other lands would be punished as misdemeanors and some, for acts which no other land would recognise as a violation of public order. Yet, even in this land, our women are working, and there are signs of progress. During this last year the women of Russia for the first time in their history called and held a great Congress. It is true the Government, in the midst of its absorbing duties of regulating the households of the lands, and the thoughts and opinions of the people, found time to censor the programme so thoroughly that every topic the women wished most to discuss was cut out. It is true, that they forbade the Congress to invite any foreigner to attend the meetings (if there is anything of bitterness in what I am saying, it is due to the fact that I could not go to that Congress—(laughter)—and further, it stipulated that if any foreigner should come without invitation, she should not be permitted to express even a little greeting to the Congress. Yet, for one whole week hundreds of women sat together in Convention, and the press of St. Petersburg, as well as that of the provinces, was filled with the news of that wonderful phenomenon, a Woman's Congress. The people were amazed at the ability, the brilliancy and the intelligence manifested by the women. Just at its close, at the very last moment of the last day, a woman arose and introduced a resolution in behalf of that thing, which I suppose, is the most sensitive question in Russia, the condemnation of capital punishment. At once the great audience sprang to its feet, and with wild waving of hats and handkerchiefs, clapping of hands and shouting of voices, the resolution was unanimously adopted before it was put, and the act so amazed and startled the police who had been put in charge of the meeting, that it was all over before they knew what had happened. As soon as scattered wits could be collected the police pronounced the meeting dissolved, but the quick-witted chairman responded, "Ah, it is unnecessary, the meeting has already been dissolved!" And so it lived out its appointed time and came to an end without the record of having been dissolved by the police.

When these women, with their hearts and brains aflame with the spirit of helpfulness and hope which they had received in St. Petersburg, went home to their own provinces and asked permission to give a report of the Congress about which the press had been talking so much, the Governors in most of the provinces forbade them to do it. Every page of history teaches the lesson that whenever free thought and free speech are suppressed the fact has never failed to breed rebellion, and yet, the tryants of the world, even those of the 20th century, walk open-eyed along that same path to their own inevitable downfall. We give our sympathy and extend our fraternal greeting to our Russian sisters; and beg them to remember that progress never forgets a race nor a people. It is unthinkable that these conditions in Russia shall much longer withstand the onward swelling tide of human rights; and so we bid you, men and women of Russia, be of good cheer, for the day of your deliverance is surely near at hand.

In Finland it cannot be said there has been reaction, but rather misfortune. Three years ago, when we welcomed the newly enfranchised women of Finland, we and all the world were amazed at the leniency which had been manifested towards this land by the Russian Government. Evidently, it repented soon, for it was not long before the old habit of meddlesome dictation began again, and in the three years of their so-called independence there has been a continued succession of the dissolution of Dumas and the calling of new elections; while in that time that unfortunate people have been able to secure two laws only of their own making. Yet, I say to these women of Finland also, be of good cheer, for when once the spirit of freedom has been born in the hearts of a people, they never remain long under the yoke, and your day of deliverance will come too. With these exceptions, there is no hint anywhere along our lines that speaks of anything but joy and hope. I would gladly call the roll of all our 20 nations and tell you the good things which are happening in each and every one, but I shall not rob our delegations of the privilege of telling those things themselves; but I must say so me thing of the work in a few of our auxiliaries.

In happy contrast to the Russian conditions the superb victories which have come to our cause in the last five years stand out in bold contrast. The greatest of these, as all the world knows, are the victories of Norway and of Australia. I shall say nothing about Norway because a delegate appointed by the Government, is here, with credentials signed by the Premier, and she shall speak for her own country. The rapid succession of victories in Australia is also familiar to you all; I merely add the comment that the establishment of woman suffrage in that grand young empire of Australia and in that stable old country of Norway, are worth more to this cause to-day than all our organisations put together; and all the arguments, all the eloquence, all the fighting strength of the whole suffrage movement. They stand like mile-posts pointing the way to every other nation, and in those mile­posts there is something of compulsion, for they tell every other nation that it will be forced by the destiny of things to march along that self-same path.

If there should be one British man or woman here who feels a wee bit of that contempt for Australia which I have heard expressed more than once in England, let me remind you, that with its marvellous extent of territory, its limit­less resources, its brave young civilization, it is destined to become one of the greatest empires of the world. Time to develop is all it needs, and no matter how great it becomes, political equality for men and women is written in its fundamental law.

Last year I remember saying to the Danish women: You have won the Municipal suffrage without a great struggle, and now we call upon you to prove yourselves worthy of what has been given to you. We warned them that an intelligent use of the Municipal suffrage was the only road which could lead them to the Parliamentary suffrage. A few days ago, the first election since the enfranchisement of women was held, and I must say I stand amazed before the result of that election. The Danes are Conservative; the masses of the women there as elsewhere, are indifferent; and yet the Government gives the statistics that in the city of Copenhagen 70 per cent of all the women eligible to vote cast their votes in that first election. In the same election 80 per cent only of the men who have long been accustomed to vote, were recorded on that day. And so I say to you Danish sisters and delegates, thou hast done well, "good and faithful servants" of a great cause. You have satisfied us all.

From Sweden there comes a straw to show the way the wind blows in this 20th century. In February, a universal suffrage Bill for men was carried, and the despatches sent out from Sweden were worded: "Every inhabitant of Sweden, 24 years of age, etc., will now be entitled to vote for Members of Parliament." Ten years ago had the same dispatch gone forth from Sweden there would not have been a newspaper, nor a man or woman who would not have known at once "every inhabitant" meant "men." But in this year of 1909, neither newspapers nor individuals apparently suspected for a moment that the dispatch meant anything except what it said, and that men and women together had shared that victory. I wish each of our nations could collect the editorials which appeared in the press of the world upon that occasion, for they appeared in Australia, South Africa, Europe and the United States, and in each the comment was expressed that Sweden had proved herself a great leader in a reform whose coming was inevitable. I believe if it were possible for our Swedish Association to compose an international scrap-book of the editorials of the world's press upon that Act, that it would have more influence with the Government than any argument they could present. Perhaps such a scrap-book will not be needed, for yesterday a Bill for universal suffrage for women passed the House of Commons, and it passed unanimously. But, alas, there was the House of Lords! And so they must wait a little longer. When we take into consideration the achievements of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland I think we must give especial honour and the first place to the Scandinavian race.

Last year we spoke of England as the storm-centre of the movement. I am not sure that it is the storm centre now. There has been no lull in the storm, but there have been whirlwinds and cyclones of endeavour in many other parts of the world, and within the past six weeks a thousand women have marched to the Parliament of Canada carrying a big petition; two thousand have gone to the legislature of Massachusetts; a thousand to the legislature of New York; as many more to the legislature of Illinois. In South Africa there is a great campaign, and all the way around the world there is now such vigor of endeavour that I think we can only say the storm is spreading. Since I came here I have received a great many letters asking me to condemn militant tactics in my address, which of course is expected to present a bird's-eye view of the situation, and I have received a great many others asking me to uphold them. Now I have no intention of doing either, but I also have no intention of evading the question. As an International body we must not take sides in a contention over methods in any country, and here in England there is an intense difference of opinion about this matter, and you and I, delegates of this Convention, if we are courteous, diplomatic, just, if we understand what Internationalism really means, will be silent concerning our opinions upon that issue. (Cheers.) But there are reasons quite apart from militant methods which keep the eyes of the whole world riveted upon the campaign here; there are conditions in Great Britain which exist nowhere else in the world, and which have produced a suffrage situation totally unlike any other: There is a political party, all the world knows, which is in majority in the House of Commons. All the world also knows that the majority of that party are pledged to woman suffrage and the world wants to know how it is going to wriggle out of the responsibility that pledge imposes. There is another thing peculiar to Great Britain; whenever there is a political campaign here the despatches have told the world that many Liberal and Conservative women have canvassed for votes for this or that candidate, that they have held great meetings, and that they count thousands of women in their membership. In other lands woman suffrage opponents say: Women do not have time enough to vote; they are not intelligent enough to vote; they will desert their husbands and families and neglect the homes if they vote; they are not interested in politics; and these statements virtually sum up the case for the opposition in most communities. Now, if the women of England have time enough to solicit votes for the men of their party, and intelligence enough to train them to vote; if they do not neglect their homes and families when their political parties direct them to act as catspaws to pull the political chestnuts out of the fire and to put them into the Conservative and Liberal baskets, the world wants to know how these political parties are going to escape from the logic of the situation when these same women ask some of the chestnuts for themselves. Again, this nation was presided over for 60 years by a woman (cheers ); no other nation has had that record, and she was accounted worthy to present an annual Parliamentary Address in which she pointed out the duty of the Members of Parliament. Now the outside world wants to know how that Parliament can consistently say that other British women are not even worthy to cast a vote to elect that body. There is still another reason why the world is watching England. The British Colonies have enfranchised women; how is the Home Government to explain the phenomenon of women, first enfranchised in Australia, then disfranchised in England; again enfranchised in New Zealand and disfranchised when they return home? Do you not see that these conditions are altogether peculiar to this country, and that John Bull is in a very tight place? The world knows it, and it knows also that the British people are logical in the long run, so it watches Great Britain to learn the date when the suffrage will be given to women.

I think there has been an event in this country that is worthy of regard as an International event, and that is the organisation within the past year of the Anti-Woman Suffrage Association (hisses). No, do not hiss, for it is the best thing that has yet happened in England. A signal change in suffrage affairs seems to have come within the past year; and it appears to an outsider that press and public had united upon that policy which the Icelandic women have described as "speechless silent resistance." (Laughter.) The press said nothing, Parliament said nothing, there was not even a Don Quixote windmill to wave its arms in opposition. Nature abhors a vacuum, and evolution always supplies wants; and it was at that particular moment that the anti-suffragists came; they came at the precise instant when the movement needed them. They came to state the case of the opposition. They are just as much a necessary factor in the woman suffrage movement as are we. How is a judge to decide a case when he has not heard both sides? The average person believes there are great and unanswerable reasons why women should not vote, although he has not taken the trouble to analyse them, and so he ranges himself in opposition. Now come these educated, thinking people, who have put that opposition into words; and so clear and complete is the manifesto which they have issued that I believe it will virtually become an International one. I am sure many anti-suffrage organisations will be formed in the future, but I believe this will be used as the basis of all manifestoes to come, and therefore, I regard it as an Inter­ national manifesto. Some of you who hissed a moment ago may feel that this opposition movement is doing harm to our cause (no, no); perhaps it is for the present, but do not be alarmed. They are sending in a Parliamentary petition; now what does that mean? It is well known that all people by nature are opposed to new things; before education all people are anti-suffragists. If a petition opposed to woman suffrage should be presented to the Hottentots, the Afghanistans, the tribes of Thibet or to the interior of Turkey every individual would sign it, and the longest petition "opposed to the further extension of rights to women" yet known could be secured there. A suffrage petition carries a very different meaning every name represents a convert, a victory, an education of the understanding, an answer to an appeal for justice. A woman suffrage petition is a gain; an anti-suffrage petition merely shows how much more must be gained. One is positive, the other negative. Let me bid you to wait a little and you will find that England, and other countries as well, will perceive the real truth clearly enough, that the anti-suffragists of this country and my own, are the most inconsistent products of all the ages.

We celebrate at this Convention the birthday of Mary Wollstonecraft. If we would know the progress which has been made in this movement, we must read again "A Vindication of the Rights of Women." We shall learn there, that in her day there were no universities, no colleges, no high schools, no advanced education for women; no opportunity for them to control property or collect wages; no right to speak in public; no right to organise societies; no political rights. The woman's movement has been going forward from that date, and many injustices have been removed, but for every step gained there have been women who have crucified their very souls; and the same type of women, the lineal ancestors of the present-day anti-suffragists, with withering scorn and criticism opposed every step of that advance. Yet these modern anti-suffragists are educated women, and some possess a college degree, an opportunity and an achievement which other women won for them in the face of universal ridicule; they are possessed of property which is theirs to-day as the effect of law which other women have laboured for a quarter of a century to secure; they stand upon public platforms where free speech for women was won for them by other women amid the jeers of howling mobs, not infrequently armed with rotten eggs; they adopt the right of organisation, now an established custom among women, but which was established as the result of many a heart-ache and many a brave endeavour when the world condemned it as a threat against all moral order. They accept with satisfaction every political right which has hitherto been accorded by their Government. They even accept public office when it is tendered them; in fact, not a right is there which the women of other lands are struggling to gain and which is established in their own lands that they do not accept as their birth-right; and yet, endowed with all this power, of education, of property, of organisation, of free speech, of partial political rights, they tum upon the last logical step in the movement which has given them so much, and with supreme self-satisfaction say: "Thus far shalt thou come and no farther." It takes no logic to perceive the inconsistency of such a position, and England will see it; the Continent will see it; the whole world will see it, and a little time will bring the realization of it. I feel no resentment towards the anti­suffragists, because I recognise them as the most powerful and valuable ally of our movement. But I am sorry for them. It will not be long before they will be voting for Parliament here in England, and how difficult it will be for them to make excuses! In the manifesto which these women issued they declared "The woman suffrage movement can be defeated; it must be defeated," and they added something like this: "Women of Great Britain we appeal to your patriotism and loyalty; arise and defeat this movement while there is yet time." But how blind they are. The Woman Suffrage movement can never be defeated. If every woman in England was an anti-suffragist it would make no difference. Our organisations are artificial agencies which accelerate the speed of progress of this movement, but if no organisation existed, there are forces at work which would bring the suffrage; forces no human being can check; and forces which no human being has brought into existence. The handwriting is upon the wall, and woman suffrage is as certain to come as the sun is bound to rise to-morrow.

There are many of these great causes which point to the inevitability of the coming of woman suffrage. I am only going to call your attention to one, and to do that in the briefest possible manner. Ages and ages ago there came a division of labour between men and women; it was not forced; it was prescribed by nature. Men became the military, and women the industrial sex. To men and women alike; to the united human race, was given the task of preserving that race. This could only be assured when women protected the family and developed it into a stable factor. So clearly marked and so natural was this division of labour, that it has been quite universal; and it was not until the present day that there was any material change in the plan established centuries ago. Then it came so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that the world is even yet bewildered and mystified. In modern cities, the old division of labour has almost disappeared, and everywhere it shows signs of departing. Complicated conditions brought by a rapidly developing civilization; competition for bread, or sordid ambition, has led men into the sacred precincts of the home, there to steal every occupation invented and developed by women, and they have carried them into the factories, workshops, and the offices of the world.

There is nothing left for women to do in many homes, and compelled by economic circumstances, they have gone out of the home and entered the great world of work. You know the history as well as I. I shall not dwell upon these details. But now, with this great army of women engaged in wage-earning, competing with men, and other women, for the right to labour, let us pause to consider what conditions they have found. In the little country of Norway, one of the most picturesque and beautiful lands in all the world, but one of the most difficult in which to make a living, over half of the "females" are employed in wage-earning occupations to-day. In the little country of Holland, with a population of 6 millions, there are 2 ½ millions of males earning their own livelihood and a million and a half of females. What sorrow is told in those two statements concerning child labour, for it means that not only the adult women but the children are at work! 41 per cent of the females of Austria are employed in wage-earning occupations. When I was there only the other day, an army of 250,000 men had been mobilised ready for the possible war, and I saw thousands of men upon the fields of training. Here is an artificial influence that is steadily pushing women into outside occupations—for in all countries where there is compulsory military service, women naturally must carry on the wage-earning occupations. In Germany nearly 33⅓ per cent of all women are engaged in wage-earning occupations. In the civilised world at large we may say that from 25 to 50 per cent of the women are engaged in wage-earning occupations.

When we turn again to the classification of employments presented in the census reports of these various nations, we find that in the lists of occupations which require skill and which command high wages, there are few or no women. In the lists of Government positions, again few or no women. In Russia, women are employed in the Government Telegraph Service, but almost twice the qualification is demanded of women as of men; and Russia does not stand alone in such in justice. Our Governments give the cue to other employers, with its discriminations against women who are compelled to earn their bread. But more curious and tragic still, Trade Unions in a number of countries make serious and most harmful discriminations against women. Here, in England, the Tailors Trade Unions forbid women to learn tailoring, and the same thing is true in Holland. Women were the first tailors; they invented the trade, and monopolised it for ages; now men have taken it from them and have virtually forbade them even to learn the occupation which was once theirs. In Holland, the pastry­makers (and pastry, including the far-famed Koekjes, is one of the specialities of that country) have closed the doors of the Union to women and have forbidden them to learn this trade; yet women certainly invented pastry; they cultivated the family taste for it, and created the demand for it. The printers of England have closed the doors of that trade to women, and there are no women type-setters in Great Britain. In all our nations there is war against the married women in industry, and our governments say that the married woman shall not work for wages. By law, she is driven from the occupation of her choice, but she does not cease to work, she merely enters another not so well-paid. Another cause which as yet is one of mystery, bears strongly upon the economic condition of women. In the development of our civilised life a surplus of women, or females, over males has appeared. Apparently, under present conditions, women are more tenacious of life than men. In Russia, where in many of the provinces life is primitive, there are practically the same number of men and women, but this is true in no other country in Europe. In the European countries represented in our Alliance, there are five millions more women than men. There are people who long to send women workers back to the home, and to re-establish the old division of labour; but there are no husbands for those women, no homes for them to keep, no children for them to train. Instead, if they would live, they must work, and this excess of women over men, drives millions of women into wage-earning occupations.

The Prussian Government made an investigation into this problem last year, and reported that neither emigration, nor war, could explain the surplus of women. So far as I know, it is a fact still unexplained. The result of these varying causes and conditions is uniform misfortune for the working women. Barred from the higher avocations by prejudice against their sex; from many well-paid trades by the discrimination of trade unions, legally debarred from others because of marriage, yet driven into the labour market to exchange labour for bread, their fate is a hard one. They are pushed into the unskilled trades by the thousands, there to meet lowered wages, bad sanitary conditions and long hours. Employers who perceive an unlimited supply of labour with which to satisfy a limited demand, are naturally less considerate of the needs of their employees. In consequence, working women are utterly at the mercy of selfish employers, of hard economic conditions and unfair legislation. These are facts, which are startling indifferent men and women into serious reflection in all parts of the world. If there is now a new division of labour, it will be an artificial one, and women must help to determine what it shall be. If there is to be a struggle in the labour market for the right to work, and a "survival of the fittest," then women must be given a fair chance to compete there. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from these facts is to give votes to working women, that they may defend their own wages, hours and conditions.

We have worked to gain the suffrage because the principle is just. We must work for it now, because this great army of wage-earning women are crying to us for help, immediate help.

One moment more. Australia has provided us with many an incident in proof of our claims, and it now furnishes another. A little while ago the Parliamentary suffrage was granted to the women of Victoria, after 39 years of hard, sacrificing work. Immediately after the Act, there was a dissolution of Parliament, and in a short time a special session was held, for ten days only. As all the world knows, new legislation is not considered at a special session. Among the bills left over for this special session was the Teachers Salaries' Bill. The question of the wages for teachers had come up annually for years, and the teachers and the suffragists had united to secure a law establishing "equal pay for equal work," but as they never had found a sponsor in Parliament, they made little headway. Now, although time was precious, to the amazement of suffragists, men arose to say that this provision will do very well for a temporary measure, but the only proper, just, economic condition is "equal pay for equal work." At the same moment in the Legislative Council, a "Factory and Shops Act" was under consideration. A man who had voted against the Parliamentary suffrage only a few weeks before, moved an amendment to the Bill, to the effect that all employees in factories and shops should receive "equal pay for equal work," and he defended his amendment in a grand speech. He said he had been talking with the women and had found out what they wanted. To be sure they had been telling Parliament for the past 20 years what they wanted, but Parliament had never been able to hear before. These men had not changed their point of view, they had not been convinced, but women had been promoted, not alone from the disfranchised to the enfranchised, but from the non-constituent to the constituent. They had been given the power to punish or to reward Members of Parliament, and those Members of Parliament at once began to bid for the women's vote: Now I am sure anti-suffragists would say that that is a very immoral influence. I believe it is; but nevertheless, if you want anything in a representative Government it pays to have a vote, and it pays to have a Parliamentary member anxious to get that vote. With a vote in hand the deaf are made to hear and the blind to see. With a vote in hand, "ask, and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." The papers of Australia are now saying that since women have the suffrage "there is no power on earth that can prevent the early adoption of 'equal pay for equal work.' "I beg of you, in conclusion, my sister suffragists, those of you who have been guided by the love of justice, by the belief in progress, to forget those motives if you can, and remember only that from the nethermost corners of the earth there comes the cry for the actual help the vote can give. It is needed now, and the needy cannot wait. You and I must know no sleep, or rest, or hesitation so long as a single civilised land has failed to recognise equal rights for men and women, in the workshop and the factory, at the ballot box and in the Parliament, in the home and in the church.

PDF version