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Woman's move towards emancipation was outlined by the president of the Auckland Federation of University Women, Mrs. Eric Macdonald, in an address at the Adult Education Centre, yesterday. This was the first of a series of weekly lectures on "Woman in the Community" to be held by the Advisory Committee of Adult Education, Auckland University College.

In primitive times, said Mrs. Macdonald, women did a great deal of work, and in medieval days, when husbands were so often away at the wars, a great deal of management of families and estates fell to their lot. The abbesses and prioresses of this period were also women of great ability, who undertook responsibilities calling for administrative gifts and learning.

Approaching our own times, came the complicated housekeeping of the pre-industrial revolution era, giving way to a simpler mode of housekeeping, while women were thus freed to take work in factories, shops and so on.

"Unfortunately, with this development," continued the speaker, "came the idea that women of the middle and upper classes should be protected from the rough buffetings of the world; that they should be meek and obedient, and their one aim to please. "Many women came to love this life of iack of responsibility and idleness, but others rebelled. This parasitic position of women gave no openings or scope for the abilities of the active, intelligant spinster, while the Eosition of women who were unappily married was deplorable. "Women had no legal rights, and were classed, as Mill put it, 'with idiots, lunatics and minors.' In the quaint diction of the day, the legal position was, 'My wife and I are one, and I am he,' while a learned judge expressed the view that 'if a woman left her husband she must learn to starve, or live on charity.' " Mrs. Macdonald concluded by giving a resume of the great names and great reforms achieved by outstanding women, and their few staunch men supporters, in transforming the legal, educational and economic disabilities of women in the 19th century to the position of comparative freedom and equality which was taken so much for granted to-day.

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Bibliographic details

FOR WOMEN WOMEN'S REFORMS, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

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FOR WOMEN WOMEN'S REFORMS Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 168, 18 July 1945

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