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The Woman's Petition

1891 Woman's Petition

Image taken at PROV exhibition - Centenary of Women's Suffrage:
Signature stories
13 March - 16 June 2008

At noon on the 6th May 1891 the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. James Munro, received a deputation on Womanhood Suffrage. The deputation was organised by by the Victorian Alliance in conjunction with a variety of temperance organisations. A number of parliamentarians were included in the deputation but the majority of those in attendance were women - primarily from the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) but also from the Melbourne Women's Temperance Union and female members of other temperance organisations.

The meeting resulted in the decision to petition women in Victoria to prove that women wanted the right to vote.

On 11th July 1891 a petition appeared in the Alliance Record. The petition was circulated throughout the state. Completed petition sheets were to be forwarded to Marie Kirk at the WCTU office in Russell Street, Melbourne, by 20th August but the date was extended for another two weeks when the the introduction of the Constitution Act Amendment Bill was delayed.
At the WCTU office the collected petition pages were pasted on a fabric roll to form the Monster Petition. The petition consisted of more than 28,000 signatures and measured 260 metres.

On 29th September 1891 the Monster Petition was presented to Parliament.

Although women in Victoria did not receive the right to vote in Victorian parliamentary elections until 1908, the Monster Petition is accepted as a symbol for women's suffrage in Victoria.

In August 2007 the importance of the petition was recognised when it was placed on Heritage Victoria's register of Significant Objects for Victoria.

In February 2008 the petition was inscribed into the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

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