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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Personal Volume

What Woman Suffrage has accomplished

What Woman Suffrage has accomplished.

The following list of Acts will show that it is well for the home and the State to be governed by the united vote of men and women:—

An Act to admit women to practise at the Bar.

University Act, making absolute equality for men and women in education, scholarship and degrees.

Education Act—equality of both sexes. (Co-education which is universal in the Primary, Secondary, and University education, except in High Schools and Private Schools, has proved an unqualified success.)

Compulsory Attendance at Continuation Schools Act—equality for boys and girls.

Technical Schools Act—equality for both sexes.

Old Age Pensions.

Servants' Registry Office Act.—This Act, which makes it compulsory for Registry Offices to be licensed, ensures the safety of young girls, especially in connection with the white slave traffic. A writer in the Morning Post, in belittling this Act, is evidently unaware of its significance.

The Adoption of Children Act.—No premiums being allowed to adopting parents, and a magistrate's sanction being required, safeguards children from cruelty and neglect.

The Protection of Children Act.—Strict regulations and the inspection of boarded-out children prevents baby-farming.

The Destitute Persons Act makes the maintenance of relatives compulsory, and removes burdens from the Charitable Aid Boards and the ratepayers, besides increasing individual responsibility.

The Testator's Family Maintenance Act empowers page 3 the Supreme Court to cancel any will which does not make sufficient provision for the testator's wife, husband, or family.

The Succession Act provides a fair division of property to wife, husband, or family. There is no male entail, and landed as well as personal property can be equally divided.

The Inalienable Annuities Act ensures maintenance for defective and invalid children, and prevents their portion being seized for debt.

The Maintenance Act provides for the maintenance of wife and family, and makes provision for maintenance orders being enforced in adjacent colonies. It also makes provision for wages to be paid to prisoners for the maintenance of wife and family. A woman can sue for maintenance while living with her husband.

The Industrial Schools Act provides schools for criminal or neglected children, from which children are boarded out and their wages banked by the Government. Subsidies are paid to private bodies which maintain industrial schools and orphanages, but all such schools must be under Government inspection.

The Maternity Homes Act provides a fortnight's accommodation in a Maternity Home. Visiting midwives and maternity allowances to expectant mothers are provided for women in their own homes.

Subsidies are paid to the Salvation Army and other bodies for rescue and reformatory work.

A deserting husband or the putative father of an expected illegitimate child may be prevented from leaving the country.

The Criminal Amendment Act ensures adequate punishment for sexual offences—from five years' to life imprisonment, with floggings, is given according to the seriousness of the offence and the age of the victim. (The indeterminate sentence makes possible life imprisonment for moral imbeciles, degenerates of both sexes, and habitual criminals.)

The Prison Reform Act substitutes reformatory for punitive methods in dealing with offenders.

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The First Probation Offenders Act has been the means of saving many offenders from a criminal career.

The Indecent Publication Act is used to suppress indecent pictures and immoral literature and plays.

The Shop Assistants Act protects the health and wages, and regulates the hours of shop assistants.

The National Provident Fund Act provides for a contributory form of insurance.

The Juvenile Smoking Act prevents indulgence in cigarettes by boys under 16.

The Children's Court Act has been in operation for some years, and has been the means of much kindly and preventive work amongst juvenile offenders.

The Divorce Act makes the conditions for divorce equal for both sexes. In it there is a provision by which in the case of a husband suing for divorce, if it is proved that his unfaithfulness had driven the wife to a similar act, the divorce can be refused. In the case of the wife suing for divorce the same rule applies.

Women can get compensation for slander, under the Women's Slander Act, without having to prove that the slander has damaged their reputation.

The Municipal Elections Act provides that both husband and wife have a vote in the qualification of the one or other.

The Legitimation Act is similar to the Act in Scotland by which a child may be legitimised on the marriageof the parents and receive equal shares in property, equal rights and the status of a legitimate child. Provision is made for distribution of the estates of illegitimate children to the mother and her relatives to the exclusion of the father and his relatives. Illegitimate children can be registered in the name of the father. There are many other Acts which safeguard the lives and well-being of children.

The influence of the women's vote is seen and felt in all our legislation, although no attempt has even been made to arouse sex antagonism. The sense of justice which prevails, and which insists upon the punishment of the guilty party instead of his victim, in cases of seduction, has attained a high level in New Zealand.

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There are many cases in which the voice of honest indignation has been raised against the man whose neglect and selfishness have driven a shamed and hunted girl to desperation, which clearly prove that the tone of morality has been raised and the sense of justice aroused in men as well as women.

The Factory Laws, which provide equal pay for equal work for men and women, and ensure healthy conditions of work and a minimum wage of £1 5s. per week for women, which have made sweating impossible, show the benefits working women have received as the direct or indirect result of the power of the vote. I have the testimony of Mr. Tregear, who was head of the Government Labour Department for twenty years, to the effect that the present generation of women think that things were always as satisfactory, and have forgotten that their mothers had to work for so little wages and so long hours as their employers willed.

The Compulsory Military Training Rill, which has had the hearty support of the women of the Dominion, was welcomed as a protection to their homes. The provision in the Bill for the exclusion of alcohol from the military camps was insisted upon as a safeguard from temptation to their sons.

The Temperance regulations which have reduced crime and drunkenness in the districts in which they are enforced are an example of the voting woman's foresight and care for the future of her children and her home.

Amendments to the Pensions Act to add 50 per cent. to old age pensions, when the pensioners have children under 16 years of age, and to pay 7s. 6d. to 10s. per week to widows, irrespective of age, who have young children, have been passed, with the concurrence of the Opposition, who knew that they were acceptable to women voters, who had to be reckoned with at the General Election.

The real power of the woman's vote in New Zealand is not in opposition, but in its harmony and co-operation with the men's vote. A house divided against itself cannot stand, but the united and loyal comradeship of page 6 men and women have secured for New Zealand reforms in legislation which are making the Dominion a paradise for men as well as women and children.