Mary Lee (suffragette)

Mary Lee (Suffragette)

Mary Lee (suffragette)

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Mary Lee (née Walsh) (14 February 1821 – 18 September 1909) was an Irish-Australian suffragist and social reformer in South Australia.

Mary Walsh was born in Ireland. She was married in 1844 to George Lee. The couple had seven children however little more is known about her life in Ireland. Her son Ben moved to Adelaide, Australia. When he fell ill in 1879, Mary and her daughter, Evelyn, immigrated to Australia. They travelled on the maiden voyage of the steamship "Orient". Her son died on 2 November 1880.

In 1883 Mary became active in the ladies' committee of the Social Purity Society. The Society advocated changes to the law relating to the social and legal status of young women, advocating an end to child labour to protect girls from abuse and preventing them from becoming prostitutes or child brides. The group's success was a passage in the 1885 Criminal Law Consolidation Amendment Act that raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.

The Social Purity Society also was concerned with the working conditions of women. After the bill was passed in 1885 the group began campaigning for workers' rights began. In December 1889 at a public meeting Mary Lee proposed the formation of a women's trade union. The Working Women's Trades Union was founded in 1890, Mary was the union's secretary for two years. In 1893 Mary attend the Trades and Labor Council meetings, served on the sub-committee which examined conditions in the clothing industry, and on the Distressed...
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