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A Plea 
for Extension of Women’s Influence

October 12, 1907 — W.C.T.U. Convention, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


One can hardly realize that it is only within the last half century that so much has been accomplished for women. We take for granted our many privileges, often forgetting those brave women and noble men, who, against ridicule and contempt, worked hard to educate and elevate all women.

The higher education of women, their organized efforts to ameliorate the condition of the poor, raise the fallen and benefit in various ways the community, their position in the labor market-necessitating laws to protect their interests, and welfare have all taught our women that it would be well to have a direct influence upon those who govern. Personal influence, of which we hear so much and which, in certain cases is powerful, is very slow in action.

If we are to accomplish what we see necessary to be done, we need a more direct way than individual personal influence. We ought to express an opinion and what more direct and powerful way of expressing an opinion is there than by the ballot? We women have too much to do with our home duties, our care of the sick and helpless — and — the many claims upon our philanthropy, to be running round with petitions, trying to exert a personal influence on voters, in order to induce them to make or amend laws that will protect our children when they have the shelter of our homes. Yet there is no other way open for us. Year after year we have to go over the same ground, spending time and energy that might be saved if we had the influence of the vote.

We do not ask for the vote because we are antagonistic to men — far from it — we do not want the vote in order that we may vote against the men, the men are our fathers, husbands and brothers, their best interests are ours. We want the vote that we may strengthen their hands in all that stands for right and justice. As Miss Willard has said, “The whole intention of the woman movement is not to declare the rights of women, or to usurp power, or to alienate men, but on the contrary — it is to unite men and women on the most enduring plan; to study the harmonies between them, to prove that their interests are indissolubly linked, and it is a far more scientific, sensible, and Christian way of dealing with one half of the human race, because it is equally in the interests of the two halves.”

If women had the vote there would be no need to come twice asking for better legislation for women and children, no need to come again and again for the appointment of women inspectors where women and children are employed; we would not ask in vain for the raising of the wage or consent. We do not want to vote as men, we want to vote as women-the more womanly the better. . . . 

The husband goes alone and votes to send a man to make or keep a law that makes everything in the home he is supposed to represent belong to him — the children, the house, the furniture, and all his wife may claim is board and clothing suitable to her children. This is not an imaginary story. It is an absolute fact. Are we willing to be so represented?



Source: Edmonton Journal, Oct. 12, 1907.