THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN.
The Borlia Oo&grress. Business Moetlajs of the Council. June 6-11, 1604. (By WILHELMINA SHERIFF BAIN.) The delegates from nineteen, countries assembled in one of the lofty lhalis of the Kunstlerfoaus, Bellevuestrasse, in Berlin, on Monday morning, June 6. The preceding suffragist meetings had given them some slight acquaintance with each other, and aspects had become mutually familiar, though names still seemed difficult to pronounce and impossible to remember. But the ladies were arranged according to their respective countries, as indicated by bannerettes, and everyone soon became expert in a novel geography. New Zealand, for instance, was bounded east by Tasmania, west by Denmark, north by Switzerland, and south by England. The three languages—German, English and French— were declared to be official; tne majority of the councillors were English-speaking, however, and the "nations" that had least knowledge of the prevalent tongue were placed nearest to the platform. It must here be said t/bafc every nationality except the British and the American was more or less tri-linguistic, and that the inability to comprehend any language save one's own proved a very real disqualification. Every Continental European who has any education at all knows at least two — usually three — -foreign tongues. It is a necessity of t/he position. Bordering each other, as these countries do, they must be conversant with outside speech, .or suffer for their ignorance. Therefore, English and French are constituents of t"he German elementary school curriculum. It may be that teachers find time for such subjects because they have metric arithmetic instead of the . antiquated weights and measures that still burden the lives of British pupils and render British commerce an 'expense and a reproach in the whole bookkeeping world. Amongst ourselves there is no innate inferiority ; it is simply a matter of custom. Some British and some American delegates to the International Council were brilliant linguists, and the president, Mrs May .Wright Sewall (of Indianapolis, U.S.A.), seemed to be as eloquent in the French and German languages as assuredly she is in English delivery. Mrs Sewall has long been a noted personage She has assisted in the founding of more than fifty clubs of women, and of men and women; by appointment of the Governor of Indiana she has represented her own State in two International Expositions; she has conducted a Girls' Classical School for twenty years past ; and she has written voluminously on literary, educational and reform subjects. She is a practised woman of . affairs, and she ia an exalted idealist. With her :the unity of humanity is a passion, therefore she is versatile, therefore she is sympathetic, far above the average- limit. Her pale, mobile countenance ia enhaloed by beautiful, silvery hair; her favourite hues appear to be white and silver grey, with half -hidden fleck of rose ; her appearance suggests the harmony that she ever seeks to inculcate. There she sits then, on her right her proposed successor/ the Countess of Aberdeen ; on her left the recording secretary, 'Mademoiselle Vidart, and the corresponding secretary, Miss Wilson; the speaker of the occasion occupying the little rostrum that faces the Council. Modest girl ushers pass, now and then, from ■ " country " to " country " ; reporters and the public are accommodated in a gallery that looks down upon the whole scene. I For the week of the Council purely business matters engross so many hours that — ■ after the firßt morning— sessions open at nine, instead of ten, as previously inti- \ mated, yejt as a rule, despite the heavy evening engagements," every delegate answers to the vote call. One place is sadly Tacantr— our own Mrs Sheppard ! is seriously ill and cannot leave England. She had been appointed plenipotentiary at large for the New Zealand Council, and her absence from the international occasion is an, irreparable loss. On Wednesday, June 8, various resolutions came on for consideration. The first, ABOLITION OF THE WHITE SLAVE TRAFIIC, has been drafted by the president, endorsed by the National Council of the Women of Norway, and submitted by post to the executive of every National Council of Women in the world. The words read: — "That, considering the fact that the white slave traffic is a disgrace to humanity and a slur on -all women, the international Council of Women earnestly invites each National Council to co-operate with every local effort for the suppression of the infamy, and resolves to keep the question on the international programme till the white slave traffic be abolished." No debate js needed here, just a few illustrative statements are made. Englishwomen can tell how their societies have intervened to prevent deluded girls from) going to the St Louis Exposition ; Americans describe the Protective Committee which they have established at the great world show; Norwegians speak of the legalised hindrances that have baffled them in trying to save lovely and ignorant girls inveigled to St Petersburg ; Danes, Netherlanders, French, tell of little baby girls, six or seven years old, sacrificed at an unspeakable shrine; Austria, Hungary, Italy say that from one port alone (0 Columbus! their own beauteous Genoa!) more than one thousand maidens are shipped annually to South America — that in one Argentine city there are thirteen evil houses of solely Hungarian, supply.
In suppressed pain and pity the resolution is adopted. The place of the next quinquennial meeting is next considered, and it is resolved that the invitation of the National Council of the Women of Canada be gratefully accepted. Amendments to constitution and to Standing Orders occupy the remaining morning S€6sionß, until on Saturday, June 11, the election. of officers is managed by ballot. There appears to be general satisfaction, when the results are announced, thus: — President, Lady Aberdeen (Scotland) ; vicepresident at large, Frau Stritt (Germany) ; vice-president, Frau Retzius (Sweden) ; vice-presidsnt, Madame Siegfried (France) ; corresponding secretary, Mrs Gordon (Scotland) ; recording secretary, Miss Kramers (Netherlands) ; treasurer, Mre Sanford (Canada). The elections nominally closed the business meetings of the Council, though matters, specially those relating to peace and arbitration, were carried into the following ever-memorable week of congress. (To be continued.)
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THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN., Star, Issue 8112, 10 September 1904
THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN. Star, Issue 8112, 10 September 1904
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