Highlight of the month

Women celebrate their suffrage

On the 7th of July 1915 Althingi (Parliament) assembled for the first time after the Danish king had confirmed with his signature the new proposal from Althingi which brought suffrage to Icelandic women and farm labourers, 40 years and older. The leaders of the women´s societies decided to assemble at Austurvöllur to express their gratitude to Althingi and the king and to celebrate. A program for the ceremony was printed and distributed.

The event started by sending the king a telegram from Icelandic women expressing profound gratitude. At 16:30 women gathered in the primary school yard in Lækjargata and marched from there to Austurvöllur, led by a brass band. Leading the procession were 200 young girls dressed in white carrying the Icelandic national flag, which now appeared for the first time at a mass meeting. At Austurvöllur there was a ceremony where speeches were given by Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, editress of the Women´s Paper and chairwoman of The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, and Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason, principal of The Women´s School in Reykjavík.

Two poets wrote poems to celebrate the day and they were sung by a women´s choir at Austurvöllur. Guðmundur Magnússon (pseudonym Jón Trausti) wrote one of the poems which opened with: “We celebrate you, a new age of freedom”. The other poem was by María Jóhannsdóttir and it started thus: “God, our god! We pray from our hearts!” Jón Trausti was a popular writer among the Icelandic public, especially because of the book Halla og Heiðarbýlið (Halla and the Heath farm). María was a nurse and an active member in The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association. She published the story Systurnar í Grænadal (The sisters in Grænidalur Valley) in 1908. Both died relatively young, Guðmundur in the Spanish Flu in 1918 and María in 1924 from the same illness and tuberculosis.

The addresses and more information can be found in the Women´s Paper, July 16th 1915.

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