Dr.(Mrs)Sukthankar (Bombay) moved the following resolution on franchise for women under the Government of India Act, 1935:
The conference reiterates it disapproval of the following franchise qualification for women provided under the Government of India Act and urges their modification in accordance with its previous memorandum, at an early date.
The mover pointed out that women had not taken sufficient interest in the matter. She strongly objected to the wifehood qualification. Women’s rights to vote in their own right had to be recognised and they should not vote as the wife of so and so. The way to escape from this position was by voting as literate women.
She explained the application of condition, which insisted on women applying for registration as voters with the necessary certificate. This meant that the name of the voter would not appear in the electorate lists automatically but women had to apply for it. She observed that the idea behind this was that woman’s place was in the home. She lamented the great apathy of women towards this question and pleaded for educating public opinion.
Mrs S.C Mukherji seconded the resolution, observed that it was against the self-respect of women to vote merely as wives. The resolution was carried forward.
(All India Women’s Conference. 1 January 1936)
Mrs Margaret Cousins’s Presidential Address:
..We women who have extended our motherly influence beyond the realm of the four walls of our homes of our homes to public affairs have done so because we find that the great subjects of health, education, the status of women, economic, political, religious and legal and the freedom of the country, interpenetrate our lives in the home, help or hinder us in our great vocation of mothering the race and living out our own individual lives happily and valuably.
When I sent out the first letter in 1926 inviting women to co-operate in a joint effort to improve our Indian conditions, I think my only claim to praise was that I was courageous enough to risk failure in seeking to rally women to unite and to travel to a central place to discuss matters pertaining to their interests without coming in the wake of some gathering of menfolk. That act of courage has been nobly upheld. Though the conferences of these ten years the awakened womenhood of India has been woven by the shuttle of trains back and forth though this vast country into a single khaddar fabric. The women of the country now know one another, they honour one another, they think things out together. they follow leadership, they initiate new schemes such as the Home Science College, the Mysore Five Year Plan, the memorandum on women’s status in the new Constitution, legislation for the abolition of child marriage, for equal rights of inheritance, health measures, and labour reforms. All these things have grown out of the seed set in the fertile soil of Madras where these was always been social, communal and educational unity between the women of this city and where men have honoured women by doing what women pointed out to be useful necessary steps in national progress.
...there has been failure in liquidating the illiteracy of the country, for the rate of India’s literacy is still not 10 per cent! Such a figure makes one almost despair. A visit to the Indian States of Travancore and Cochin heartens one up, so determined are the people there to have education as their birthright apart altogether from its connection with employment. I found that 70 per cent of the girls of Cochin going to school. If literacy has become practical for the people of Kerala, why cannot it be so for the people of the Madras Presidency? But it because the government spends only 5 per cent of its total revenue on education? But apart from that if only each person who can read or write would teach 13 other people to so, the burden of illiteracy would be removed within ten years. Those who have the advantages of literacy have not sufficiently taken to heart their responsibility to share their knowledge with others as a sacred trust...(Madras Women’s Conference. 19 October 1935)
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