Address to the International Congress of Working Women, October 31, 1919


THE PRESIDENT, MRS. ROBINS: While waiting for this report we will once more change our program a bit. It gives me the greatest pleasure, friends and fellow delegates, to present to you the great woman of America, Jane [Addams]! (Applause)

Miss [Addams] then addressed the assembly.

Madam Chairman and Members of the Congress: I am very [page 2] sorry to be unable to accept the kind invitation of the president to be here at the opening session, and as the time for welcoming speeches is past, I will occupy your attention for only a few moments. May I say I have just come from another great international convention held in Switzerland, where the questions of labor and the position of working women constantly broke [through] in anything we might be considering, and simply in spite of any effort we made for or against it. And it is to be after all one of the main questions which will occupy the attention of women everywhere and wherever they might go.

(Miss [Addams] then asked the Chairman if she desired to have so much of [her] address as had been already given translated, and the president informed her that she might continue.)

I would like to say that the great speech of the conference in Europe was made by a French working woman who, perhaps, is here, -- I hope she is -- Mlle. Mélin.

She came from the devastated regions. She had many experiences throughout the war and I think we all agreed her speech was the great speech of the Congress. The French women also put in a splendid program for the working women in France and on the Continent, a program arranged by the committee of which Mme. [Duchêne] was the chairman; and I am sure her name is well [missing text] [page 3]

In our recommendations to the various countries for topics for their study until we should meet again, of course the labor question was always at the fore, and the leading members of the English delegation were all, I [think], without exception members of the labor party of Great Britain.

So, you see it was high time, was it not, that the working women of various countries should have met together to discuss [permanently] those problems that affect them as labor problems. And we are only too [greedy] -- those of us who have met in other international conventions -- only too greedy if for your findings, only too happy to follow the lines which you indicate, and I want to congratulate you that you are sitting here in Washington today at the same time and place of the other international labor congress.

Of course we all wish some of you were sitting with them, and I am sure it is safe to predict at the next labor conference women will be sitting with them. But we are able to meet here and now to formulate your own future plans and to present them for the attention of the Congress, and I can only wish you every [possible] success in your deliberations, and regret that I cannot stay to be part of them during the entire week. (Applause)

(Whereupon the address was translated into French.)