A Feminist a Day: Vida Goldstein

Who is she?

nla_01Vida Goldstein was an Australian suffragette and women’s rights activist, who was the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national Parliament.

Influenced by her suffragette mother, Vida helped to collect signatures for the huge Women’s Suffrage Petition in 1890. She worked alongside noted suffragette Annette Bear-Crawford, and upon her death, assumed the role as leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Victoria.

She became a noted public speaker who was adept at handling hecklers, spoke at many events around Australia and was one of the few Australian suffragettes to be recognised internationally.

When Australian women were granted the vote, Vida was invited to attend an international suffrage convention in America, as Australia and New Zealand’s delegate.

In 1903 she stood for the Senate unsuccessfully – and ran for Parliament another four times.

Through the 1890s to the 1920s, Vida lobbied parliament on issues like equality of property rights, birth control, the creation of a system of children’s courts and raising the age of marriage consent.

In 1911, she was invited to England to be an inspirational speaker to Britain’s militant suffragettes, while in Australia she founded the Women’s Political Association, the Women’s Peace Army and published the Woman’s Sphere and the Woman Voter, which were devoted to educating women on political issues.

Why should we thank her?

Vida was a pioneer of Australian feminism and one of the key suffragettes who won Victorian women the vote. She also helped to put Australian suffrage and feminism on the international map.

Best quote

“Nothing was more degrading than for a woman to have to marry for a home. Love should be the sole reason.”

A Feminist a Day: Vida Goldstein

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