The role of petitions in the mobilization of women for the right to vote: The case of Queensland, Australia, 1894, 1897

Deborah Jordan

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    Women across the western world began to focus on obtaining the vote in the last decades of the nineteenth century. One of the first strategies of the specifically dedicated Women’s Equal Franchise Association (WEFA) in Brisbane, Australia was to collect signatures calling for “one woman, one vote.” The very wording of the petition became a point of contention in challenges over leadership of the new association. A subsequent, non-partisan breakaway group formed and also collected signatures. This article addresses the initiation, collection, and submission of the WEFA petition and the 1897 petition collected by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Addressing forms of political intervention amid contentious politics allows a more nuanced analysis of the broader women’s movement’s engagement with petitions, which were crucial in the formation of the more narrowly focused associations and participants’ ongoing strategies. The often-vituperative representation of suffragists in the press highlights their achievements in mobilizing mass support for the vote and establishing a measure of legitimacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)84-109
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Womens History
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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