Votes for Women

Assessment tasks

  1. 'Women were eventually given the franchise, only because men had decided that it would do no harm.'
    Write an essay discussing this statement in the light of the movements for women's suffrage in the Australian Colonies/States between 1884 and 1908.
  2. Select one of the women mentioned in this section, or one of the other key women in the fight for the female vote, and conduct further research on her background and her role in the suffrage movement. Try to identify features of her life, experiences and upbringing that may have led her to pursue this path.
  3. Construct a dialogue between a suffragist whose main focus is on temperance and one who sees women's equality as the main focus of the movement.
  4. Prepare a class debate, set in your State or Territory, in the early 1890s. The topic is 'Women must be given the right to vote.' The speakers on each side must reflect not only the arguments used but also make reference to people and events of the time, the attitudes and values of the period and, where possible, the style and language of the 1890s.

Additional resources

Further reading

  • Oldfield, A 1994, Australian Women and the Vote, Cambridge, Melbourne.
  • Oldfield, A 1992, Woman's Suffrage in Australia: A Gift or a Struggle?, Cambridge, Melbourne.
  • Serle, B 1988, Silk & Calico: Class, Gender and the Vote, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney.
  • Spearitt, K 1992, 'New dawns: First wave feminism, 1880–1914', in Gender Relations in Australia, R Evans and K Saunders, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Sydney.



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