Monday, December 31, 2007

Housewives Association of Victoria

Ironic History at Lost & Found will show that the Housewives Association was undone by its very own position in promoting women's roles in politics.

The Housewives Co-Operative Association of Victoria was formed in 1915 as a direct result of the increasingly high costs of living during WW1.
Originally aimed at bringing 'the producer and consumer into direct contact' and providing a list of discounted goods to its members, the Association was inspired by the English Women's Co-Operative Guild, which was founded in 1883.

The Association struggled in its first few years but by 1921 it adopted an openly political stance by campaigning for women to be allowed to stand for parliament and to be represented on all boards dealing with the home and the cost of living.

By the 1930's the Association was lobbying against tariffs, demanding more training in domestic science in schools, offering instructions on mothercraft, nutrition and housework and broadening their activities to increase the political status of women.

The Federated Association of Australian Housewives began in 1923 to provide a link between all the state-based Housewives Associations. Beginning with the Victorian Association in 1915, all states had founded a Housewives Association by the 1930's.
Again, although their primary goals were to represent the interests of housewives by lobbying to keep costs down , they all stated they were political organisations intent on increasing women's representation in all levels of government.

With a combined membership of 115,000 in 1940-1941 it was the largest women's organisation in Australia, albeit for a short time.

National membership peaked at 175,000 in the late 1960's before the new wave of feminism in the 1970's saw the decline and rejection of the very organisation that helped push the importance of the role of women to the forefront of politics.



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