In 1911, while visiting London, Australian suffragist Vida Goldstein was embroiled in a heated debate with a male correspondent to the British Anti-Suffrage Review about the relative merits of British and Australian women voters. The British man was exasperated by Goldstein’s claims to parity. Australian women, voting as they had been since the early 1900s, voted only on provincial matters. If women were to vote in England, they would have a hand in directing the affairs of a vast and troublesome empire. Surely, he said, ‘not even the most enthusiastic Australian would dream of suggesting that the Imperial Parliament was not far more important than the Commonwealth Parliament’. It is precisely this enthusiasm – through which Australian women voters counselled their British ‘cousins’ to adopt their progressive democratic practices – that directs the narrative in Clare Wright’s recent book, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World.
Available for download on Friday, February 05, 2021