Article from the Alliance Record – August 22, 1891 page 207

Woman's work for suffrage

By Mrs C. P. Wallace

Superintendent of the Franchise Department for Australasia

The W.C.T.U. of Australasia send out the following for the furtherance of the work of the Franchise Department in Victoria and the other colonies.

However much the idea of giving full political rights to woman may have been ridiculed and pushed aside in the past, the question has come now to be recognised as one of grave and serious import that can no longer be ignored. In the daily press, from the pulpit, on the street, in social gatherings and in legislative halls, it is being discussed. Whether we favor (sic) the movement or oppose it, we should know the reasons therefore, and what the conditions and circumstances that have brought it forward so prominently, in this and other countries.

The members of the W.C.T.U., after years of prayerful effort, have learned that moral suasion, alone, will never put down the drink traffic; that woman can protect neither herself, her children, nor her property, while she is not regarded as a person, but ranked, in the law, with the idiots and lunatics. Hence the Franchise Department is now acknowledged the most important branch of W.C.T.U. work. As well throw the pinioned sailor overboard to rescue the drowning man, or march the soldier into battle without armor (sic) or musket and expect success, as to look for a reign of truth and righteousness under laws which make the birthmark of sex a brand of degradation. Equally amenable to the law with man, fully bound to the extreme of its extractions, restrictions and penalties, no just reason can be adduced why women should be disenfranchised. Eminent thinkers and prominent leaders advocate her enfranchisement, recognising the need, in the near future, for the help of women, "The great reserve force of Providence," in solving the social and industrial problems of the age. That this question may be understood, it must be carefully studied. Its importance demands as much. The work will be principally educational, for which the following suggestions are made.

That each Union appoint for Superintendent of the Franchise department some member who feels and realises the might and moment of the W.C.T.U. work, who shall communicate with the Colonial, and the Colonial with the Superintendent for Australasia. That each Superintendent subscribe for the Alliance Record (Temperance and general Life Buildings, Swanston-st, Melbourne, 3s. 3d. per annum), which will contain in every number something helpful, send also to the same address, 1s. for package of suffrage leaflets, and list of literature. At the meetings of the Union have some word to say or passage to read bearing on the subject; lead the members to ask questions and enter into free discussion. In addition to leaflets, have printed slips, which give the views of distinguished persons on women suffrage. These are conveniently inserted in letters. Secure column or portion of column in your local paper for suffrage news. Place literature in club rooms, hotels, Y.M.C.A and all reading rooms possible. Solicit clergymen to preach on woman’s condition, past and present. Endeavor (sic) to have the subject discussed in debating societies and made the theme of essays and orations in colleges and seminaries. Memorialise conventions, secular and religious. Secure attention and consideration of the subject at political meetings. Circulate the enrolment papers, securing the signatures of all persons over twenty-one years of age, who believe that women should vote on equal terms with men. Learn what are the electoral privileges of women and how many avail themselves of these privileges. Know the laws concerning assessment and registration of voters, the times, places and conditions therefore; the conduct of municipal affairs. Study carefully what is the legal status of married women, spinsters and widows, and what the protection to person and property. To this end, form societies for the study of law and politics – the science of government – as well behoves those who are under the law to have a thorough knowledge of its conditions and provisions. The discussion of the following subjects will be interesting and instructive – Courts, Lawyers, the beginning of a Lawsuit, Evidence, Both Sides of the Jury Question, marriage, Divorce, Parent and Child, Teacher and Pupil, Employer and Employee, Public Corporations, Insurance, Land, Wills, Offences against Person and against Property, Rates, Public Institutions, Public Health, the Liquor Laws etc. These and kindred subjects are worthy of study. Awaken interest in all the questions of the day, state and local. Watch Parliamentary proceedings for all legislation bearing directly or indirectly upon each member of the human family, regardless of sex, and upon every home. It is said that you may judge of any nation or age by the condition of the women. Frequent mention is made of the woman’s influence in an indirect and often evil way in important and far reaching matters, through motives of vanity and selfishness. A right knowledge coupled with her quick intuitions would make her a safer exponent of the influences she wields, and, made equally responsible, her power would prove a safeguard. The effort of the W.C.T.U. should be to rouse women to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, that when in the words of Tacitus, "In all grave matters we consult our women," they may be prepared for intelligent discussion and wise judgement based on knowledge. Inspired by principles of highest loyalty and truest patriotism, woman asks for justice in the interest of the home, the family and good government.