Votes for Women

How and when did women achieve participation in the political process?

  • Examine the timeline (p 333–7) and the chart showing Democratic Landmarks (p 339) and construct your own chart showing all steps forward in relation to women's political rights.
  • Undertake further research (see 'Additional resources') so that you can add further information to each section of your chart.
  • Each of the following women has played a very significant role in furthering the participation of Australian women in the political process:
    Henrietta Dugdale, Maria Kirk, Louisa Lawson, Mary Lee, Catherine Helen Spence, Vida Goldstein, Edith Cowan, Bessie Rischbieth, Ivy Weber, Enid Lyons, Dorothy Tangney, Beatrice Faust, Elizabeth Reid, Margaret Guilfoyle, Pauline Toner, Joan Child, Janine Haines, Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence, Margaret Reid, Carol Martin.

Present an oral report

Choose two women from the list above who lived and worked in different decades. Research their lives and present an oral report about their contributions to Australian political life.


Examine a visual source

Examine this illustration from page 271, which originally appeared in the Illustrated Australian News in June 1891. Write an analysis of this image using the following framework:

  1. Explain the central point that the illustrator is making and refer to the techniques used to convey this point.
  2. Comment on the relationship of this illustration to the movement for women's rights.
  3. Comment on the groups to which this illustration was intended to appeal.
  4. Estimate the degree to which this illustration would have contributed to changing attitudes or to reinforcing existing views.

Introduction | When did the struggle begin? | What was the political and social background? | What obstacles did women face? | What were the links between the suffrage and the temperance movements? | How and when did women achieve participation in the political process? | Assessment tasks and Additional resources