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Historical Vignettes of the North

Headline - 'Finnish Women in Parliament'
Dawson Daily News (Yukon Territory), March 22, 1911

      NEW YORK, March 9. - Life is full of absurdities, thinks Dr. John Jackola, of Duluth, who, after a trip through Finland, is addressing various women's suffrage meetings. What could be more absurd, asks Dr. Jackola, than to permit all foreigners after five years' stay in this country to become citizens and vote, and to deny that right to an American-born, college-educated woman?
      "It is strange that in the land of the free women do not have equal rights with men, while in my native land, Finland, women vote and are members of the parliament," says the doctor. "The emancipation of the women of Finland was due to many causes. The high culture of the women, social equality and participation in local self-government proved that women deserved it. The reign of terror gave all women an opportunity to see how dependent they were upon the political condition of the country.In this sad extremity the women were led to form a secret political union on a national scale to carry on the campaign of education. At the risk of their lives women took part in the general strike. After proving themselves cool-headed, efficient, and trustworthy, who could deny women their share of happiness when the victory was won?
      "In 1906 women cast their first ballot. In many districts the women outvoted the men, but elected men to represent themselves. Only nineteen women were elected out of a total number of two hundred, and each one of the nineteen was well qualified. The majority of women cast their ballots for men candidates. Indeed, there were relatively few women candidates. While the women wanted the suffrage and voted heavily throughout the country, only a few wanted to become lawmakers.
      "In the first parliament there were twenty-six bills presented by women members. The list shows some of the subjects which interested women. There were three bills for the abolition of the guardianship of the husband over his wife and a new women's property act, one for more rights of mothers over their children, four for raising the age of protection for girls, two for raising the age of legal marriages for women from fifteen to seventeen or eighteen, four in regard to the legal status of illegitimate children, two petitions for more extensive employment of women in state service, for a state subsidy in behalf of schools for domestic training, for an annual subsidy of 20,000 marks for temperance, for obliging municipalities to appoint a midwife in each parish, for encouragement and extension of co-education, for the establishment of a maternity insurance fund, for the appointment of women as sanitary inspectors, for subventions to the distribution of free meals to school children, for the abolition of disciplinary punishment in prisons, for making it a penal offense to insult a woman on the public roads or in any other public place.
      More than 50 per cent of all the bills presented by women in the three parliaments have dealt with children and so it is self-evident that the law-making women of Finland have not lost their maternal instinct. Political equality has given weight to women's demands. School and factory inspection, regulation of the hours of labor, equal pay for equal work, and many other demands, which used to fall upon deaf ears, have now been granted.
      Only the exceptional woman wants to become a lawmaker; but given the opportunity almost without exception women want to vote. They do not want to occupy the throne; they only want to be the power behind the throne."

To save you an email, I know that "Finnish" is mis-spelled in the title, but it's a scan of the original newspaper headline.

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