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The important supportive role of the League of Women Voters

The question of why more women do not stand for Parliament is a complex one. An important point is made in the following letter from Eileen Furley of the League of Women Voters in New South Wales to her counterparts in South Australia in 1972 (SRG 116/8).

As well, the importance of the activities of the League of Women Voters of South Australia in encouraging women to stand for Parliament is shown in the following two letters written in 1959 to the League from the first two women to be elected to the South Australian Parliament (SRG 116/7/1).

These letters are part of the archival record group SRG 116 of the League of Women Voters of South Australia, and held in the Mortlock Library of South Australiana. They are reproduced here with acknowledgment to the League of Women Voters of South Australia, and kind permission of the heirs of the late Eileen Furley, Jessie Cooper and Joyce Steele.

Miss Eleanor Walker
Hon Secretary
League of Women Voters of South Australia

Dear Miss Walker :

Thank you for your letter of 30th September, the reply to which is somewhat delayed as I have been out of circulation for a week owing to ill health. I am better now, however, and most interested to know that you are proceeding with the plan of educating women politically. I send you all my warmest greetings and assurances of my lively interest in the project in which you are engaged.

I think the most useful message I can give to the gathering will be to ask women to realise that a political career means hard and self-sacrificing work, sometimes over long periods and one of the reasons why women fail so often is that they do not prepare themselves sufficiently to enter the very competitive field of parliamentary politics. As a rule men, from early youth, who are motivated in this direction, continually keep their objective before their eyes and interlock their political ambitions with their career or anything else they may be engaged in. I find this is not the case with women. Indeed, I often point this out to the professional and business women's clubs because it is from the ranks of this type of woman that one would expect the top grade of recruits to emerge.

Trusting these observations may be at least provocative and with all good wishes for your enterprise.

Yours sincerely,

Eileen Furley
League of Women Voters, N.S.W.

Dr Dorothy Adams
League of Women Voters of SA

Dear Dr Adams

Thank you for your kind letter of 8th May, conveying the League's congratulations and good wishes to me on the occasion of my election to the Legislative Council. Will you please convey to your members my deep appreciation of all the encouragement and support they gave me through the long and difficult months preceding the election? The letters I received officially from the League and the many messages I received personally from your members were of great value to me.

I am glad that you were able to accept my offer of Hansard. I expect you know that the honour of moving The Address-in-Reply has been given to Mrs Steele in the House of Assembly and to me in the Upper House. This will probably take place on 21st July next. No tickets are required, as it is an ordinary session day, but if you or any of your members would like to attend, I think it would be wise to come early and make yourselves known to members of the staff.

Yours sincerely,

Jessie M. Cooper

The President
The League of Women Voters of SA

Dear Doctor Adams,

Thank you very much for your letter of 8th May, 1959, conveying congratulations and good wishes on behalf of the Members of the League of Women Voters of South Australia on the occasion of my election to Parliament.

It is of course a very great honour to be the first woman elected to the House of Assembly in the State Parliament, but at the same time I am very much aware of the responsibilities involved.

I am now looking forward with keen anticipation to taking my seat when Parliament is opened on June 9th.

Yours sincerely,

Joyce Steele


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This page last updated on Friday 11 April, 2014 14:46



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