The law granting the franchise to women came into effect on the fir^t of October, 1906. mi that now it is possible to estimate, in sortie degree at least, the value of the work that the women have done and the effect that woman suffrage ha’ had upon the country at largeN’ FIXI.AXD f*»r nearly three years women have been members of Parliament. and for the fir<t time in history have “taken their place- in a legislative assembly side by side with men. elected by universal manhood and womanhood suffrage.’*
Altlwugh at the time the «tiffrage was granted it teemed 10 people outside Finland radical and even revolutionary, in Finland itself the change was looked up« »11 merely as an inevitable Mep in the natural process «if the (xilitical and social evolution of the country, and wa* received without any signs of excitement whatever.
It is true tliat in some ways conditions in Finlan«! Iiave been peculiarly fav-«table to the advancement of woman’s rights, but there have been also certain difficulties which do not exist in other countries, anil which made the idea of woman suffrage seem an ahno-t chimerical one
cvm a? short a lime ago n> 1807. when the first ofiicial request was made.*
NOT cxat’oil Hi lU CAT EH M K V To MBKT THK KKQCtlKgM K NTS OF THE OOUNTBY
From an educational point o£ view the women in (-inland have been very fortu nate. as there arc many excellent school * for girls and a number of co-educational schools throughout the country which prcpnre student’ tor the. I’ttiversity examinations. Girls have been admitted to the I niversity since 1878. and they not only attend lecture* but take part in all branche> of university life: they participate in all the celebrations and fe*tivities, and are manlier* of the various clubs ami student organization*, in which they are «m a footing of perfect equality with the men and arc frequently elected to varioii’ official position1«. After they graduate from one of the several high schools or from the University there arc many branches of work open to them.
They may become teachers even in the stale schools for boys, cashiers or book- keejHTs in banks, clerk* in the state archives, and in many branches of the civic administration. There arc really not enough educated men to meet the requirement.- of the country, and consequently the cooperation of the women is a matter of vital importance. It not infrequently hapj>ens that even married women in comparatively good circumstances -eek employment outside their homes.
Having thus such an excellent foundation t.. build upon, it is small wonder that the woman’s movement xwn found many active *up|*orters In t$fy the Piet had accorded the municipal vote to women taxpayers living in the country, and in 1873 to women living in the towns, all of whom were also given the right t< • be elected members of certain local self- governing bodies In tqoo the women social democrats included the suffrage in their program, but the special activity for the s u fir age began only in the year
- Unofficial request? had been made previously by both the women’s nxietic*.
t«*J4. although in 1^7 a [»ctition had been officially presented to the Diet at the requcM of the ‘Finnish Woman- Association.”
The reason why so little was done in direct furtherance of the cause of woman suffrage Ifctwccn the year* i!v>7an«i 1904. is that fust at that time Finland was passing through a severe jxilitical crisis. l‘lie struggle which the country was trying to wage against what seemed to be hopele*’ odds roused all the women of the country to action and made them realize the immense influence that political questions had upon the welfare of their country and ui>on their own individual live*. Thus they learned by practical experience the value of, and the necessity for, organized cooperation.
When all the women of the country had once been thus united by a strong bond of common intercut, it was only natural that when the political crisis had passed the women should work together in an attempt to gain a recognised position in the civil ami political life of the country
By the autumn of 1904 the political situation had changed materially and public gatherings were once more allowed The tir-t large meeting for the discussion of the question of woman suffrage was convoked by one of the women’s societies, and was attended by over one thousand women from different classes of society and from different parts of the country. The petition which the women presented to the Diet at thi% time was not dealt with, however, for the situation of the country was still precarious.* Women nevertheless continued to play an active role.
WOMEN* CHOSEN TO SKHVK. \S UtvMHgJtS OF \ STBJKE COMMITTEE
After the outbreak of the October revolution in Russia (1*105), a sympathetic ‘trike was declared in Finland, and several of the members of the central
- fn thi« jk 1 it inn equal »nffraitc for men and women wa» dewnndcd. and for the fir»t time a demand was made that womrii Ik- granted the right to Mt in Parliament
committee elected by a mass-meeting to manage the details of the strike were women.
The tir?t action taken by the committee wa> to close all the liquor -hops, saloons, and bar-rooms. anti to organize u volunteer police force to keep order. After the second »lay the markets were reopened .’ind the strikers were not allowed to cm off the water supply. In short, the strike was managed in a most orderly and systematic way. and no outrages of any sort were committed.
During the course of the strike numerous deputations were »cut with petitions to the Governor General, and in each deputation there were women members. Thus, even in moments of grave political danger ami at time* when the utmost moderation anil foresight were needed, the Finns were not afraid to trust their women.
The strike was ended by an imperial manifesto issued on November 4. tgojj, which reinstated Finland in its earlier rights, and in the manifesto universal suffrage was sjwken of a* a reform that might soon be realized. This gave a great impetus to the work among the women. They were determined that when the question of the suffrage came up for settlement, universal suffrage should he granted to them as well as to the men. Both of the women’s associations arranged numberless lecture-» and meetings. More than 3«» women’s meetings were held in different parts of the country. \t one large meeting, called by the ’’union” on December 2. 1905, there were representatives from 122 different places, many commune- <ending two, three, and four representatives in order that all social groups and all -«hades of opinion might be represented.*
WHEN WOMEN ASKED FOR SUFFRAGE IT WAS CHANTED AS A MATTER OF COURSE
This was only one of a number oi similar meetings. Mam of the young women students in the University trav-
- “Nylkf* for November. 1905.
cled about the country lecturing on woman suffrage, and there were also numerous meetings arranged and led by peasant women.
Curiously enough there was almost no opposition to the measure, ami when it came before the Representation Reform Committee only two members voted against it. and in the Senate also there were only two counter votes. Then the question was put before the Diet, and was included iri the imperial proposal submitted to the Czar and signed by him on the -*cjth of May. 1906.
The Constitution Committee within the Diet recommended women’s political suffrage and eligibility for the following reasons: “At present women in Finland get exactly the same education as men. even in the same schools, since co-education has Ixren adopted in wide circles. Women in our «lays are engaged side Inside with men in many different lines of work, and the experience from these ordinary fields of labor, as well as from women’s participation in social work and in philanthropy, is such that there is no reason to fear that women should not use their suffrage a? well as men. Finally, women themselves have shown a strong desire to get it.”*
Thus at the time that the suffrage was extended to women it seemed so natural and inevitable that every one received the news quite calmly, and evert at the time of the elections there were no evidences of popular excitement, though by the change from limited to universal suffrage the electorate was suddenly increased from to.ooo to 1.500,000. The extreme orderliness, even on the two election days, w-as a matter of great surprise to all the foreign correspondents, who scented to regard it as quite an incomprehensible state of affairs.
The various women’s clubs and women’s associations played an important role at the time of the election« and immediately before They used every effort to encourage women who could speak well to go about and address meet-
■ ‘’Englishwoman* Review.“ 1907 ing.s anti tlfOy made it possible for them to do so, and f».»r p<»or women to go to the jkjII- on election day, by providing competent and suitable women to take care »if their home:-. Women members were apjxjiutcil on all the electoral board, and when the tickets were being made tip the women showed great moderation. asking only that one woman’s name l>e inscribed as over against two men’s names on each • «i the party tickets.
As wxmi as the law had been passed granting the suff rage to women, women’s interest* were included in the various party programs. an«l. a» each of the already-organized parties was very anxious to gain as many voles as possible, it seemed neither advisable nor ucccssary for the women to form a new and separate party of their own. The whole object <>f their endeavor was nt t.. bring a new party into politics. b«it to infuse a new element into the parties already- existing.
MORE WOMEN’ VOTERS THAN ‘AES VOTBRS
The very great interest that tlie women took in the elections may l»c gathered from the fact that in Helsingfors, the capiud. at the time of the second elections (in 1908). there were 19/140 women voters and 15,5if’ men voters registered.* It is true that the majority of the women voted for nun. a* there were only jC\ women elected in a house of 200. but one woman received a larger number of votes titan was given to any of the men candidates of her party.
In >906, of the 11 \grarian-* elected. 1 was a woman; of the *5 Swedes, t ; >•( the 25 young Finns. 2: of the 50 Old Finns. <>, and of the No Social Democrat s.
- were women, so tltat the proportion of women to men was approximately the same in all the |>arties except the Swed- ish.
Although the women deputies did not constitute quite one-tenth of the whole Diet (1.9 were elected in 1906), they prrv- posed no less than Chills and resolutions.
a statement 01 which will perhaps give the best idea of the special subjects in which the women were interested.
THC LAWS WHICH THE WOMEN AUVOCATK
There were three different bills for the aUdition of the guardianship of the husband over hi» wife, and a new woman’s properly act; one for more rights of mother* over their children; four for raising the age of protection for girls; two for raising the age of legal marriage for women from 15 to 17 or 18; four 111 regard to the legal status of illegitimate children; two petitions for more extensive employment of women in state >erv- ice: for a »late subsidy in behalf of schools for domestic training: for an annual subsidy of jo.000 marks for temperance; for obliging municipalities to ap|Mjint a midwife in each parish; for an amendment of the |>aragraph of the Agrarian law which stipulate* tltat sale of an estate annihilates all lease contracts; for encouragement and extension of co-education; for altolition of the law on domestic service; for the const met ion of a specified railway; for the establishment of a maternity insurance fund; for the appointment of women as sanitary inspectors; for amendment of the law uti litigation in so far as women -dtall be granted the <nme rights as men in regard to legal assistance, for .subventions to the distribution of free meals to school children. for pardoning the Finns that look part in the Sveahorg revolt: for the abolition of disciplinary punishments in prison*: for making it u penal offense t» insult a woman on ihe public roads or in any other public place.*
Up to the time of the dissolution of the first Diet (March. irjoft) only three of the women’s bills had been debated and dccidcd upon—the institution of mid- wives. domestic training, and the raising of the age of marriage from 15 to 17 Various other hills would probablv have been passed by tin: Parliament if the sudden dissolution of the Diet had not put a «top tn all parliamentary work.
- Report for tin- “ International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance.”
In the elections for the second Diet, winch took place in July, the women voters outnumbered the men by more than 4.0W in Helsingfors, ami hy aliout
- 000 in thi* province of Nylartd. This time 2<‘ women mcmliers were elected Oi the 224 petition» presented t<> the second Diet. were presented by women, and of these one wa-s for the appointment of a woman solitary inspector, one for the improvement in the position of women in state service, two for the extension of certain railway», and several for abolishing leual abuses under which women had been suffering. Nearly all the rc-t con* cemed various improvements in the care and education of children.
BALANCE OH POWER AMON.G PARTIES NOT
apfkctku nv womkx
At the time of the second elections the women again joined the already existing political parties and made no attempt to establish a -eparate party of their own. Once more also the number of women representatives in each party proved to he in direct proportion to the number of men representatives of the resj>ective party. In other words, the election of women meml>crs did not in any way affect the l>alance of power among the parties. Thi4» was also true of the third Diet, elected in May. 1909,
‘Phe f»en*>nnol of the women member? in the three Diets ha?- been in the main the same. Among those elected to the third Diet were one factory inspector, one principal of a teacher«’ seminary, two doctors of philosophy fone of them an official in the state bureau of statistics). one principal of a girls’ school, one historical writer and lecturer on political questions, one clergyman’s widow, one peasant’s wife, one girls’ school teacher, one public-iJch’Hil teacher, five seam* stress«–, one editor of a Social Democratic women’s weekly (a former servant girl •. one h<v>j>er‘~ wife, one crofter’s •laughter, two Social Democratic organ* i/ers, one without specified profession. Thus, as among the men. all classes of women are represented.
As the majority of the representatives
are over 40 years of age, it is safe to assume that in almost all coses their children. if they have children, are of school age. at least old enough not to sutler from their mother’s temporary absence from Innne, and, moreover, in all but four or five case-, the women members of Parliament were previous!* engaged in wage-earning occupations which were more confining ami Us? well paid than their present portions. In other words, the families of the great majority of Women members of Parliament have gained socially ami economically by their election to Parliament. It is jierhnps interesting to note that there are three case^ of married couples representing a constituency.
As regards the work of women member» of-the Diet, it i* precisely the same a* that of the men members, there being women representative* in all of the vari- ott> committees One woman, for rx ample, is a member of four different committees—the committee which deals with question* of constitutional law. that which prepares bills concerning social and labor questions, that which presents the final parliamentary reports to the state, and the Grand Committee.
THE AIIIUTV TO V«iTE T1A* IMPROVED THE CONDITION of women
Before the suffrage was granted to women the vast majority of requests made by them for the investigation of the conditions of life among women workers-—for example, women factory – workers— were treated with polite indifference; now that Women have Jhe vote, all of their official requests receive sen* otis consideration Two women factory inspectors have l»eeti apj*ointcd. and a special appropriation has Inren made for the work ni an investigating committee.
No one who followed the heated debates aroused by the bills concerning the “Married Woman’s Property Act.” the “Extension of the Mothers’ Rights over their Children.” :ind the “Abolition of the Husband’* Guardianship over his Wife.” can doubt the practical advantage that women have gained by having
women representative.* in Parliament. An article which appeared in the Jus Suffragii while the bill» were pending says: “The women member* of the Law Committee, to which the bills were referred, have had to stand a hard light. The men member» in the committee, of all parties, whether bourgeois or Social Democrat, held that only the ‘women’s- right- women* urged the revision of the marriage laws, and the rest of womankind was content with the .xtntuj ifno. When this became known, protests came from all side*. Women of all vort.s and conditions sent signed petitions to some of the women members of Parliament urging the revision of the marriage laws, and most of the women’?, associations took up the question and passed resolutions giving moral support to the-women members, and urging the points in the bills upon the marriage question.”
Moreover, the possession of the franchise has been of practical use to women, not only by giving them the possibility of improving the conditions 01 their work and extending their legal rights, but also by helping than directly to better their eamomic position. Not long ago a test case was brought up by a woman teacher in one of the high schools, who claimed that as she was doing the same work a.-* the men teachers and had passed the same examinations, she should Ik* given the same salary. After ;i short discussion her request was granted, whereas similar request* made l»eforr women had the franchise had not been granted.
KCIIOOJ.it TO TEACH C.tKLS TO tot CO MR EFFICIENT WIVES A Sit MOTHKRS
But as might be expected, the chief interest of the women has been to improve the condition of children. Over 50 per cent of the bill* introduced into the three successive Diets have concerned the welfare of children. Many have been for rendering medical aid to poor women throughout the country district-;, and tor instructing them in the proper methods of caring for infonts; many have treated of the improvement and extension of the public-scliool system and the care of
School children; ?till others have dealt with special classes of children, orphans, waifs, and juvenile delinquent«
Now that the system of home instruction and private tutoring ha- passed perhaps forever—practically all children of nine or ten arc sent to schools and a large number of them to public schools— it seems only natural that women should lake a tolerably intelligent interest in the management and direction of those schools and the state or municipal laws which govern them When. too. in these days of democracy, the great majority of boys and a large number of girls also must look forward to earning their own living, it i- only to lie expected that women should feel the vital importance of investigating arid, if possible, ameliorating the conditions of industrial life.
- >ne of the noteworthy reforms undertaken bv the women has been the establishment of schools «.f domestic training throughout the country—schools intended to teach young girls *«> become efficient and capable wives ami mothers. These sdiools are of great importance, especially in the country districts and among the poorer class of people. They are becoming most valuable factors in the cultural development of the country, and arc doing more than could perhaps be done in any other way to raise the general standard«, of living
Thus the women have succeeded in material!) bettering their own position; but they have done much more, for they have also carried through reforms of wide-reaching importance to the moral and social life of the whole community. A striking proof of this may be shown by the fact that in the church synod held in 1908 it was decided to grant women the elective suffrage for sundry church offices
This motion was brought before one of the most conservative bodies in the country by a member of the synod who had previously been opposed to granting the political suffrage to women, and who introduced the motion of his own accord, saying that since the women had proved
themselves such efficicn! social and p^>!iti- cal workers, lie felt that it would Ik* an advantage to the church if they should be made eligible to many church offices.
The experience »if three year? of woman suffrage in Finland lias proved. 1 think, beyond doubt that the emancipation of women is not a thing to l>c feared or dreaded* tut merely a natural stqi in the evolution of modern ‘ncicty.
When the suffrage wan exlended to the women they resjK*nded with interest and enthusiasm. and liavc shown themselves capable of serving on all the various legislative committees. They have not disturbed the jiolittcal balance ot power, but have maintained it precisely as before, uniting as women only for the furtherance of social and legal reform-‘ of importance to women, but alni < >f very vital importance t<- the welfare and prosperity of the cotnmunity at large.
Families have not been broken up by the woman’s vote; rather have they tended to become more united by a strong bind of common interest. Instead of lessening the interest that women take in the education and the welfare of their children, the suffrage has greatly intensified that interest by making it possible for them to regulate and. in sonic degree at least, to improve the schools !■- which their children are sent and the different branches of work which they later undertake.
Experience has shown, too. that when the doors arc Opened, not all women rush madly into political life, but only those who are sj»ecially qualified for it: that for the vast majority of women the duties of the franchise consist in little more than casting their ballots, and that even the women who participate actively in political life devote no more time to it than they devoted previously to their extra domestic occupations or professions—that is. that even the small number of women who actually sit in Parliament need not neglect their homes unduly. I’»tit last and most important of all. it has shown that the cause that women have most at heart is the care and weliarc of children.
NOTES ON FINLAND
espite the obvious dissimilarity
between Finland and the United Slates, the two countries have, nevertheless. many |K»int-> in common, tor Finland stands in much the same position in relation to Sweden a> the l.’tuted States does in relatiirti to England, from ilie point of view of language, of social institutions. and the position of it* women.
The Swedish language, brought over by the Swedes who early settled along the coast, became the language >>f culture in Finland, and the written language is still identical with the written language of Sweden, but in Sweden it i- spoken a* English is in England—with a rhythmic cadence and a rising inflection. In I’inland Swedish is spoken a* English i> in America, less formally and with more variation in emphasis, in Finland, al^». certain words in common use have changed their connotation, just as certain English words have in America.
But whereas in America the English language is the common language among all classes of the population, and serves as a bond of union which all foreigners coming to 1 he country are anxious to share, in I’inland now the Swedish language ha> become a great stumbling- block.
Formerly the Swedes were in almost absolute control of the social and political life of the country, ami the language of the Finnish peasants of the interior had. in the early days, little influence on the general life of the country.
Within the last few years, however, Finland has passed through a marvelously rapid process of evolution. Many Finns of pure Finnish ,-tock have become doctors and lawyers. Senators and college professors; the Finnish peasant- have gained political equality and they are now demanding equal educational advantages, so that now the question of language has become a question of vital importance.
The current belief iu America seems to be that the life of th>- country. politically. socially, and intellectually, is something quite distinct and individual, neither
As a matleT of fact the culture of the country and the political institutions were all derived from Sweden, ami SwedishSwedish nor Russian, Iattiri. Tcuionic. nor Anglo-Saxon. mul that the language in common use :> Finnish.
- the language >pokcn in nearly all of the coast towns and in the country dis- triers iKwdermg on the coast. Swedish has alwftji liecn the language of the up|>er classes. ami until recent year* Finnish was rarely heard except in the interior of the country and among the peasants.
■The nationalistic wave that has swept over England, bringing in it-» wake the Welsh revival and in Germany the les- crcditable and-Polish movement, penetrated even to Finland, and many patriotic Finns are now desirous of abandoning the Swedish language and replacing it bv Finnish. At pretent the movement is a very strong one. but how long it will last and whether <*r not it will be ultimately successful are matter- open to conjecture.
The Finnish language at present |>os- ses^e* no literature with the exception of the Kalct’ala. the Finnish national epic, and certain novels anil stories that have been written within the present generation. The literary language is in proce>> of formation, and every present- day writer finds it nccevan t«> coin numberless words to designate objects unknown to the simple peasants and shades of meaning which correspond to the subtler feelings of a more complicated ami cnltured civilization*
Wc are not here concerned with the question as to whether or not it is the part of wisdom to foster a language which has 15 eases, bear« little relation to any other language except that S)>okcu by the F.stish peasants of the llnltic coast, and is n far more difficult language to learn even than Russian. The supporters of the movement have, at any rate, the excellent argument in their fav>*r that it is the native tongue of about 85 per cent of the |topuhition. and that any other language must be always, t«• the great mass of the people, a foreign tongue, and that a people can only attain to the highest forms of poetic and literary expression in their own native language.
Baroness Xi.i.etta Korff.