Address to the Englewood Women's Club, November 5, 1923 (excerpts)



Miss Jane Addams Believes American Women's Opportunities Are Greatest

"American women have greater opportunities than those of any other nation on the face of the earth," said Miss Jane Addams, Chicago's well beloved social worker, before the Englewood Woman's club Monday afternoon. "There ought to be more exchange of views between American and Oriental women. As you go further east, you find fewer organized women, but they are just as interesting as are westerners."

Miss Addams recently returned from a ten months' tour of foreign countries and had a rich fund of information regarding the women of the Orient, international relations, and political conditions in the countries themselves.

"We think of the Oriental women as being shut in, but they are beginning to assert themselves," said Miss Addams.

In India, she said, there is a tremendous movement toward [self-government]. "India for the Indians" is the slogan. An English woman, Annie Besant, is a power among the constitutionalists whose desire is to have India [self-governing]. The other faction is called "Gandhi," after its leader. This party is also aided by a woman, Naidu, a native Indian. Its code is non-[cooperation] with the English. Gandhi has a very strong following. He does not believe in war or violence.

Miss Addams also gave a vivid description of the mode of living of the Indians. She had an unusual opportunity to study the family life of the country at first hand through a native, whom she knew in England for many years, who had returned to his native country and its way of living.

The families live in multiple households, the women in one section and the men in another. The head of the house, his son, his son's wife, nephews, and grandnephews, all live in one house, making sometimes a total of over a hundred people. Miss Addams and her friends were invited to Sunday luncheon at the native's home and were much surprised when he alone entertained them and no women appeared.

"There are three women in the council of Bombay," said Miss Addams. "Four women ran for this position. One was an English woman and she was the only one defeated. In Burma a woman can vote when she is 18 years old. In the different provinces they vote at different ages. Some places do not permit a woman to vote until she is 30, because they fear she will gain control over the men.

"In Shanghai little children are put to work. Shanghai would be a model city if the child labor situation could be settled. The children are apprenticed for four or five years, while they are small and consequently cheap.

"The trouble with China is the military governors, and no central government. This could be remedied if the central government were strong enough to control the provincial powers."

Unlike China, she said, Japan has a fine school system. Boys and girls are treated alike and go to school together. The women are slowly creeping into the universities not unlike the American women did about thirty years ago. Their faces are much more expressive than those of the Indians and Chinese and are much more like westerners, according to Miss Addams.

After her description of the Orient, Miss Addams answered questions from club members regarding the things she had seen there.