The Marchioness of Crewe, one of the chief members of the Liberal Social Council and a zealous supporter of the Liberal party Photo. Lallie Charles
It is the fashion in some quarters to assert that women are not "imperially minded," but our colonial sisters are conspicuous in the work of their councils for the wide view which they take of the solidarity of Empire, and are an important factor in forging the links of Empire. Perhaps a woman's heart clings more tenaciously to the "old country," which cradled, perchance, herself, and certainly her forebears, and we cannot overestimate the influence of the colonial mother in training the children of our overseas dominions in the sentiment of loyalty to King and Empire. It is possibly a more important factor in keeping Canada British than even the geographical boundary of the Great Lakes. Through the associations federated to the National Council the women of old Quebec and those of the newest township in the far North-west are made to feel a common sisterhood and share an Imperial patriotism.
General Montgomery Moore, in an address at the first annual Council of Canada, made a humorous complaint that the husbands of the Dominion were having their slumbers broken by the query from their wives in the dead of night: "My dear, what do you think about this as a suggestion for new work which our Council might take up?"
We would remind the gallant general that this was much better than the old style of "curtain lecture." If Mrs. Caudle had had topics of public utility upon her mind she would not have harried her unfortunate husband over having lent an umbrella to a friend!
We may cite some of the schemes promoted by the women's Local Councils of Canada as typical examples of work being done by women's councils throughout the world.
Some Canadian women thought that their town should have a library, or a home reading association, or its paths paved, and others had a fancy for instituting a curfew bell to warn the children when it was time to go home. Straightway these things became accomplished facts.
The appointments of women as factory inspectors, as police matrons, and other offices of public service have been promoted by the councils, and matters of sanitation dealt with. Many homes and philanthropic institutions have been founded, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, and, in short, wherever there is a Local Women's Council there is a powerful and practical factor for the commonweal.
The Women's Council of Canada has taken up the homestead question and is determined that the daughters as well as the sons of the Dominion shall have the opportunity to acquire allotments from the Government and cultivate the virgin soil.
The greatest triumph achieved by the Canadian Council was the institution of the Victorian Order of Nurses, which now covers the Dominion to its remotest parts with a nursing organisation similar to our own trained district nurses.
Lady Aberdeen originated the scheme in c o m-memoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and the Local Councils took it up with spirit and organised and endowed this great national nursing system.
Our own Council - the National Council of Great Britain and Ireland - was formed October, 1895, and federated with the Internat ional in 1898.
Affiliated to the Council is the National Union of Women Workers, a great federation in itself, with 1,314 societies, of which 161 are of national importance. No other union covers so large a field of work for the nation. It has forty-two branches and one hundred thousand members. It is interesting to note that local unions had sprung up in Birmingham and Liverpool before the Union itself was constituted, thus showing the almost unconscious desire of women to come into touch with each other. The Union had its beginning in the Ladies' Associations for the Care of Friendless Girls founded by Miss Ellice Hopkins in 1876. Mrs. Allan H. Bright is president of the National Union, the work of which has been described in Every Woman's Encyclopaedia (page 109, Vol. I).
Photo, Lane Smith
Nothing but a magnum opus could convey an adequate idea of the work being accomplished by the vast army of women in the federated societies which compose the International Council. One cannot attempt to enumerate even the most prominent of the schemes organised through the councils of the various countries. Every capital in Europe, indeed in the world, is made a centre of their activity.
Mrs. Fawcett, LL.D., leader of the Constitutional Suffrage Party and President of the National Union of Suffrage Societies Elliott & Fry
Not only is this international federation of women a triumph in itself, but to the work of the various councils in their countries and localities may be attributed many of the triumphs in the women's movement with which we have dealt in this series of articles.
The congresses of the International Council, held in the various capitals, are sweeping aside the animosities of race by a union of work and purpose which makes women of all nations one great sisterhood.
Our grandmothers could not sleep in their beds from dread of so many "foreigners" being in London at the Exhibition of '51, but to-day this far-reaching federation of women bids fair to banish the word foreigner, and must surely make for universal peace. Women have advanced beyond being merely "Imperially minded"; they have become internationally minded.
The international idea has also been exemplified by the founding of the In t e r nat iona1 Woman Suffrage Alliance, which has for its object the enfranchisement of the women of all nations and the uniting together of the friends of Woman Suffrage throughout the world in organised co-operation and sisterly helpfulness.
The Alliance was formed at Berlin in 1904, the preliminary meeting having taken place at Washington in 1902. It holds quadrennial conventions for the election of officers and transaction of business combined with public meetings and propaganda. Twenty-three nationalities are affiliated to the Alliance.
The president is Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, of New York, who at the time of writing (1912) is making a tour of the world, visiting the different centres of the Alliance. The first vice-president is Mrs. Fawcett, LL.D., the leader of the Constitutional Suffrage Party and the president of our National Union of Suffrage Societies. The Alliance held its Convention of 1909 in London, and drew together an epoch-making gathering of delegates from all parts of the world, each reporting on the progress, and in some cases on the actual achievement, of Woman Suffrage in their own country.
In London the delegates found themselves in the storm centre of the movement, and were intensely interested in studying British
Many receptions and festivities were arranged in their honour, and two monster meetings were held at the Albert Hall. First, the National Society for Woman Suffrage held their meeting, and filled the arena of the Hall with a picturesque pageant of women representing industries, trades, and professions, each division marching in under its distinctive banner, from pit-brow lassies and mill workers, to women doctors in their academic robes.
A few days later the delegates again beamed from the boxes in the Albert Hall upon another huge gathering, organised this time by the Women's Social and Political Union, who paraded their suffrage prisoners, and decorated them with badges. Further evidence of British activity in the movement was given by the Women's Freedom League reception at the Caxton Hall, and the At-home of the Women Writers' Franchise League, while the Men's Society for Woman Suffrage gave an evening reception.
At that time the National Anti-suffrage Society was in its infancy, and therefore the delegates did not witness counter-demonstrations, such as have since taken place at the Albert Hall, by which they could gauge the force of the opposition, led by Mrs. Humphry Ward, Lord Cromer, and Lord Curzon. It would have been an unique experience for them, had this been possible, for the women of Great Britain, I believe, stand alone in having a National Anti-suffrage Society.