The Social Side of Liberal Politics - Some Leading Hostesses - A Fallacy Refuted - The International Federation of Women - Its Ideals and Hopes - How They are Embodied - Leading Spirits and Pioneers - The Women of Canada and their Public Spirit - The National Union of Women

Workers - Suffrage Societies and their Aims - An Interesting Convention

The social side of Liberal politics is promoted by the Liberal Social Council, which was founded some ten years ago, on the suggestion, I believe, of Mrs. Asquith, one of its vice-presidents. Its first president was the late Lady Tweedmouth, who, like her sister, Lady Wimborne, was one of the most notable Liberal hostesses.

The list of ladies who have held receptions, garden-parties, and fetes in their town or country houses as presidents of the various county branches of the council is a long one, and embraces such well-known hostesses as Lady Aberdeen, Lady Crewe, Lady Beau-champ, Lady Granard, and Mrs. Lewis Harcourt. Mrs. Sydney Buxton is hon. secretary, and Mrs. Augustine Birrell, treasurer, of the council.

A Triumph of Sex

Having passed in brief review the chief women's political organisations of all parties, the question comes, "Wherein have they triumphed?" The Statute-book of our land contains the answer in legislation on temperance, purity, housing, sweated industries, the Children's Act, the protection of girl and women workers, and other social reforms which the members of some of these political associations have pressed home upon members of Parliament by individual effort, and by deputations to the Ministry in power; while on the questions of women in local government and women suffrage the women's political associations have played an important part in the education of the constituencies.

The progress made by women in the art of organisation and combination is one of the marvels of the age. It is a triumph of sex over inherited tendencies and those seeds of mutual distrust which have been fostered by accepted axioms and social usage.

A Fallacy Refuted

How many times have we been told that women are not "clubbable," that it is impossible for them to work in combination without feminine jealousies upsetting the "apple-cart" of their enterprises? But while the wiseacres, with their ostrich heads deep in the sand, predict, emphasise, and maintain that women are "no good by themselves," and that their sex is incapable of camaraderie, we find women's federations, associations, societies, unions, and clubs increasing in number by leaps and bounds. In every land women are developing not only a capacity, but a genius for combination.

Woman's intuition has led her straight to the mark. It is in combined numbers that strength lies, and she has applied the principle to international federation as it has never been applied before in the history of the world. Men have used a form of international camaraderie for specific objects, as when the Crusaders of Christendom went to the protection of the Holy Sepulchre, and the knights of chivalry bore afar the banner of St. George.

In modern times men have founded Red Cross societies and a Peace and Arbitration movement on international lines.

It has, however, been reserved for the idealism of women to formulate a scheme which combines federated groups of women's associations into a national society in every land, and to link all those national societies together into one mighty organisation, binding women together in work and sympathy the world over, irrespective of religious or political views.

The International Council of Women, founded on these lines, is a triumph in combination. It is a freemasonry which outdoes the ancient order, for it has no secrets which the world may not share, and it works not only for its members, but for those outside its ranks.

A Great Federation

It is scarcely possible to "number the people," but when we consider that the Federation consists of twenty-two National Councils, each of which embraces women engaged in social, philanthropic, educational, and public work in their respective countries, some idea may be obtained of the vast aggregate membership of the International Council.

When, at the meetings of the Council, the delegates from the National Councils bring greetings from their respective countries, there is a flow of Pentecostal oratory which embraces the chief tongues of the world.

The International Council originated in the United States, where, in 1888, a group of earnest women, including the late Miss Susan B. Anthony and Mrs. May Wright Sewell, convened a representative assembly of delegates from various countries to consider the possibility of organising International and National Councils of women. It did Great Britain the honour to elect Mrs. Millicent Garret Fawcett as its first President. On the same occasion the National Council of Women of the United States was formed, with Miss Frances Willard as its President. The International Council held its first quinquennial meeting at Chicago in 1893, when women workers from over thirty different nationalities were represented. Lady Aberdeen was elected president for the ensuing quinquennial term, and is now again filling that office for the period 1909-1914.

Lady Aberdeen caught the fire of inspiration in Canada, when she was there as wife of the Governor-general. She arrived to find that a meeting had been convened at Toronto to form a National Council of Women of Canada. The women of the United States had, as we have seen, federated themselves into a National Council, and Canada followed suit. Lady Aberdeen felt impelled to identify herself with the movement, and the Council of Canada was organised under her inspiring co-operation with the women of the Dominion. It ranks as the pioneer women's council in the British Empire, and is particularly interesting from the part it played in drawing together in work and sympathy the women of the French and British nationalities in the colony.