Henrietta Augusta Dugdale, a founder of the first female suffragist society in Australia, has been honoured by Google with a doodle on the search engine’s homepage.
On 13 April 1869, Dugdale became the first Australian woman to publicly call for women’s equality with a letter published in Melbourne’s Argus newspaper. In the letter she described a bill to help women secure rights to property as a “poor and partial remedy for a great and crying evil” and a “piece of the grossest injustice”.
Born in London, Dugdale moved to Melbourne in 1852, where she went on to serve as president of the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society, using her position to call for equal political, legal and social rights as men.
In 1883 she wrote a short book titled A Few hours in a Far-off Age, in which she described “male ignorance” as “the devil” and the “greatest obstacle to human advancement; the most irrational, fiercest and powerful of our world’s monsters”.
The book, a utopian allegory, imagines a society where women have equal rights.
Dugdale also attacked Victoria’s court system for failing to take action on violence against women, writing that “women’s anger” was being “compounded by the fact that those who inflicted violence upon women had a share in making the laws while their victims did not”.
She was credited as one of the women who led Australia to in 1902 become the second country to grant women the right to vote.
Google wrote: “Today, we pay tribute to a woman who knew the power of her pen, and used it to fight for equal justice and rights for women.”
Her work inspired the Victorian Women’s trust to launch the national Dugdale Trust for Women and Girls in 2013, which carries out strategic, harm prevention initiatives to improve the lives of women and girls. The trust recognises Dugdale as a pioneering first-wave feminist.
She died on 17 June 1918.
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