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League of Women Voters 1909—1979, originally the Women's Non-Party Political Association

The inaugural meeting of the Women's Non-Party Political Association was held on 19 July 1909 with between 50 and 60 women present. Some had been members of the earlier Women's League. Catherine Helen Spence was elected Foundation President, and emphasised the importance of lobbying for "effective voting". Although Catherine Helen Spence died in 1910, the League of Women Voters continued to campaign for 'effective' voting. The League kept informed of the Parliament's legislative program, attended in person or read Hansard, and lobbied on particular issues affecting women and children. They sent deputations to Premiers, made submissions to Royal Commissions and made one of the most effective ongoing voices of women's interests in the sphere of government."

The following extracts are adapted and reprinted with kind permission from Helen Jones from In her own name: a history of women in South Australia from 1836.

"One of the most consistent and effective agents of change in women's public status in the twentieth century was the Women's Non-Party Political Association (later called the League of Women Voters) which aimed specifically to right the imbalance of women to men in public office, and to open up public positions like justice of the peace and jury service for women. Over many decades its members pursued certain issues without flagging; sometimes the commitment of individuals continued for most of a lifetime. Although some of the issues for which the Association had worked were fairly quickly resolved, others such as the campaign for women jurors, also taken up by other women's organizations, dragged on for decades."

"Their meeting minutes show the serious and systematic way members of the league attempted to understand issues which affected women and children . . . From its inception the league presented its policies to politicians and parliamentary candidates and elicited their support. They attempted to bring the 'women's vote' to the notice of parliamentary candidates, they called public meetings, and attempted to initiate and change legislation by nominating and supporting candidates at municipal and state elections."

Constitution of the Women's Non-Party Political Association Aims and Objectives - 1909

A history of the League of Women Voters of South Australia 1909-1976 by Viv Szekeres

Equal opportunities for men and women

Annie Montgomerie Martin


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