One Phase of
Woman’s Work for the Municipality
Lillian Davis Duncanson
1893 — World’s Congress of Representative Women, Chicago IL
A woman’s home is, or should be, her first consideration, and she should let no opportunity escape her to further the interests of that home. A home under the influence of a good and wise woman who is well informed in municipal affairs is the very basis of a better city government. A woman not only influences the minds of the young but in a great measure directs their future lives. How necessary then is it that women should be cognizant of municipal affairs for the education of the future administrators!
It has been demonstrated in some of our wisest municipalities that causing women to interest themselves in this matter has brought to the minds of the people questions of vital importance heretofore unnoticed. Why? Because the keen eye and the quick perception belonging to woman have been applied to the matter of government, with the cooler qualities of man used heretofore alone in city affairs.
The judicious administration of a city government affects more the home and its inmates, the women and children, than the man in his business. Good municipal government means good sanitary conditions and a healthful moral atmosphere. Is it not a part of woman’s work to see that the surroundings for her home and children are the very best? Will casting a vote at the polls alone secure these conditions? The personal interest and energy of each woman in a municipality is needed to secure these better conditions for the present and future generations.
The long-talked-of emancipation of woman will not come through voting alone, but must of necessity come through broadening the minds of women and interesting them in their home governments. Those of you who are visiting Chicago should organize in your own cities societies or leagues for the purpose of bringing this subject to the minds of your women. Tell your women of the importance of this question, and of the necessity for a thorough course of study; aid the men by giving them the valuable suggestions of thinking women, and all intelligent men will honor women for their activity and help.
To the women of Chicago let me say, keep on with the good work; you have the support of the Chicago men and the hearty indorsement of the Chicago press. I make this appeal to the younger women, who seem to think that time is long and their interest not yet needed. It is the younger women, however, who must carry on the work so well begun by the pioneers. Then go on with the work.
The education of the masses is the foundation of municipal reform, and municipal reform the Mecca of our hopes.
Source: World’s Congress of Representative Women, Vol 2, Ed. May Eliza Wright Sewall (Chicago: Rand and McNally), 1894, pp. 1-90.