CANTERBURY WOMEN'S INSTITUTE.
The annual meeting of the Canterbury Women's Institute was held on. Saturday afternoon at the rooms of the *°ung Men's Christian Association, Miss A. E Hookham in the chair. Mrs Sheppard wrote apologising for absence o n account of indisposition. She expressed heartfelt interest in the work of the Institute and her intention to participate when her health was restored. The Secretary read the report of the year 1895, which was adopted. Miss A. E. Hookham then presented the balance-sheet which was considered highly satisfactory. The report, after referring to the services rendered by Mrs Sheppard to the Institute, went on :— " During the past year the Institute has brought matters essential to womanhood before the public notice, and has steadfastly adhered to progressive thought and teachings. It has even gained the name of being ultra-Kachcal, regret for which would surely be lost labour. Since unity is strength, a resolution was passed early in the year inviting kindred societies throughout New Zealand to co-operate with ours in matters which shall tend to national progress. The result has been that we have federated with the Auckland Women's Political League, the Gisborne Women's Political League, the Wanganui Women's Political League, and the Dunedin Ifranchise League. In conjunction with these federated societies and with the sympathy of almost all organisations of women in New Zealand, we have petitioned Parliament :— (1) To raise the age of consent to eighteen years. Our representatives so far acceded to our request as to raise the age to sixteen. This legislation the Upper House refused to sanction, and the amendment was therefore rendered invalid. The debate in the Upper House was characterised on the part of many members by crudeness of observation and cruelty of conclusions. To sex bias was added class bias ;thus insult was joined to injury. The inability of the Upper Chamber to deal fairly with a subject fraught with so much interest to our race deserves all the censure its action in this matter has received from the women of New Zealand. The Institute, again in unison with the federated societies, prayed that Clause 196 of ike Criminal Code- Act sHould be amended so that the limit of time for bringing complaint in the matter of criminal assault might be extended. Concessions were made in this direction by our representatives. Again the Upper House placed its veto on the amendment, leaving the law as it was. The Eepeal of the CD. Act met the same fate at its hands. Our representatives conformed with the desire expressed by the women of New Zealand, but the refusal of the Upper House to sanction that reform j leaves our Statute Books still disgraced by ' a law which has been repealed in England. By instruction cf the Institute a pamphlet I on the C. D. Acts was drawn up, copies of I which were forwarded to each member of the Upper House. > A public meeting of women was called, which unanimously declared against the conduct of the Upper House in frustrating the will of the people. We have to offer our heartiest thanks to Mesdames Cunnington, Newton; Munnings and Meld for the. brave words they spoke at this meeting. The question of old-age pensions •"• has been discussed, and the humanitarian scheme of ■■ the Progressive Liberal ' Association received the hearty .' support, of ) qvix . . inemb.ers. , To' ■ the cause" pj so '<■[ noble a work a publie'ieeting was held. We have again to lend help and sympathy to those who have taken the initiative in this matter. The issue is certain, although so regret-^ tably postponed. With regard to the marriage laws, much has yet to be done to adjust them on the principle of complete equality and economic independence of men and women. As a step in the direction of the freedom of women, economic independence must be attained. There is great need for education on this subject. Our petition for the removal of all political disabilities from women has not yet received the sanction of the House. It is the logical outcome of the extension of the franchise to women, and must eventuate. Following it, we shall of course have equal remuneration for the men and women doing the same work in the same fashion, since the present discrimination is as futile as it is absurd, increasing the dreadful strain of competitiveness in directions injurious to all. We have petitioned Government to initiate reform in this important matter. Our thanks are due to Mr G-. W. Russell, M.H.R., for his able address at a public meeting held under the auspices of the Institute on his Bill for- the Ad--mission of Women into Parliament. The need of inebriate homes has again been pointed out in a. petition forwarded to Parliament by the Institute. We must have homes where our poor, unhappy sisters may find shelter. Our action regarding the Addington Gaol brought on us adverse criticism; but we believe that these homes should not be left to private charity, but should be a public right. The case of Mrs Dean, the murderess of foundling children committed to her care, led the Institute to I consider the matter of capital punishment. Our thanks are again due to Mr O'Bryen Hoare for his kindness in addressing us on i the subject. A resolution was forwarded to the Minister of Justice, praying.him to consider our reasons against capital punishment. Though our petition' failed of present attainment, the time is well-nigh come when this barbarous law must cease to be. Much sympathy from many jparts of the colony was expressed with our action. The question of capital punishment was recognised as being only one of the many reforms needed in the treatment of criminals, and a lecture by Mr O'Bryen Hoare on this subject has been printed and disseminated throughout the colony. The Institute appointed delegates/to act in concert with members of the Progressive Liberal Association regarding the government of Canterbury College and their action recommending a more popular basis was unanimously upheld. Our thanks are due to Miss Bain for her able paper on "The Need of Scientific Instruction in Biology," delivered before a public meeting of women. This kind of work is valuable, as it makes us hopeful of an enlightened^ parenthood for coming generations. Regarding the land and labour questions, Mrs Blake has given several thoughtful papers on " Pauperisation and Compulsory Work," and, as an outcome of her work, it was resolved to write to Mr Bolt, thanking him for his Co-operative Settlement Bill, and to pledge ourselves, as far as possible, to forward the election of parliamentary candidates who are in favour of sitch a scheme. At our last meeting a papei) on "The Causes of the Present Depression," by Mr Ellis Wood, Timarn, was read by the Secretary, urging land nationalisation as the one grand solution of the poverty of the masses. The paper was received with enthusiasm. The Institute has also had the pleasure and advantage of an address from Professor Bickerton on "Social Evolution in its Competitive Aspect," for which our most cordial gratitude is due. During the year the Institute has repeatedly expressed itself on the subject of party government. The Elective Executive Bill has been discussed, and has received the support of the Institute, which is of opinion that any measure which will forward the abolition of party government and remove from our members the reproach of dumb dogs is to be welcomed. To ventilate the subject of party government a public meeting was held. Mr A. Saunders, M.H.R., as an Independent Liberal, addressed the meeting on the evils of party government, the elective Executive, the referendum, the Hare system of election and the Licensing Bill of 1895. Our heartiest thanks are returned to him for his able and lucid address. The Trades and Labour Council, with a view to establishing a Central Council in Christchurch, has invited the Institute to .appoint delegates. A platform has been drawn ik>, and it will be for us to decide whether we shall be represented on this Council. In view of the coming triennial elections, there is great need for united action on the part of the women .of this colony. The Executive has decided to bring before the notice of the Institute the need <tf su ni-
moning here shortly a convention of women representatives of various societies throughout New Zealand, so that, on questions of vital interest at least, 'we may act in accord. For their consistent and xingrudging efforts we have to offer sincere thanks to our President and the ladies of the committee. The election of officers resulted in the appointment of Miss Sherriff-Bain as president; Mesdames Blake and J. T. Smith, vice-presidents ; Mrs Wells, secretary and reporter; Mrs Ross, assistant secretary; Miss A. E. Hookham, treasurer ; committee, Misses Atkinson, Dailly and Garstin, Mesdames Black, H. Smith, Darling, Henderson and Wallis. It was determined . that in future the meetings of the Institute should be held at Chancery Lane Hall, the times of meeting to be arranged by discretion of the committee. A communication was received from the Secretary of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, inviting co-operation in support of Mr T. E. Taylor's candidature. After some discussion it "was decided to accede to the request, as it was considered that Mr T. E. Taylor's views»coincide with the aims of the Canterbury Women's Institute. The following resolution was unanimously passed — "That in the opinion of this Institute a convention of women representatives of various New Zealand organisations is desirable, to consider the advisability of future united action on important matters." The meeting then closed.