Smith College Address, March 18, 1908 (extract)

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Jane Addams said in her address at Smith College:

"All legislation that pertains to children, whether educational, industrial or corrective, relates to the chief occupation of women. Men can never feel so intense an interest or have so large a part in the training of children as do women. The boy without a playground is like the man without a job -- in a position dangerous to himself and others. The interest of women in children does not stop with her interest in educational matters. She is equally interested in all that contributes to give the boy and girl a fair chance out of school, as well as in school. And she has no less concern with respect to the methods that shall be pursued for the sympathetic treatment and efficient correction of children and young people who have overstepped the bounds of the law, perhaps as the result of that very inattention to their needs on the part of government which it would be one of the first duties of women to remedy by the aid of the ballot.

"Women are increasingly interested in legislation for the protection and improvement of the working people. A very large number of women are employed outside of the home between the time of leaving school and the time of marriage. The girl in the factory is in need of protection in many ways. She is young, and, naturally, not a model of care and discretion. She needs protection from dangerous machinery; she needs protection from long hours of standing, which are ruinous to a young girl's health, and she needs protection from too long a working day. In stores and other places of employment, women are similarly in need of protection. The social life of working young people of both sexes outside of working hours is a matter of far-reaching and vital importance, and one in which women have a deep and peculiar interest.

"Women are also especially interested in all matters related to food and clothing. The buying and the handling of foodstuffs and clothing fall much more largely to the women than to the men. The ordinary matters of municipal direction, streets, police, fire protection, as well as schools, are of much importance to women. Very many matters of legislation, whether by city, State or nation, are of as much interest to and effect upon women as men, and not a few of them concern women more closely. It is the ancient argument that woman cannot bear arms, and, being thus unable to participate in the maintenance of government by force, she should not be [allowed] to participate in its direction. But, if that argument be allowed to stand for what it is worth with respect to national government, it has no bearing on municipal or State government, since no municipality or State can declare war, if it wants to. No government, in this enlightened time, however, is to be regarded primarily as a matter of warfare. It is a matter of orderly direction of affairs and of justice to all the people in which women have both a deep interest and the ability to act."

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