Women in the Illinois General Assembly
Between 1922 and 1950, fifteen women served in the Illinois state legislature. They belonged to both parties and focused on a variety of issues. Their most common characteristic was independence from traditional political constraints and local machines. This independence enabled them to focus on the issues they considered important.
Illinois women were allowed to vote in some local elections as early as 1906, and in all but state elections in 1913. The Illinois General Assembly is bicameral, with House members serving two years and Senators serving four. Each party nominated two candidates for the three representative positions in each district, and each voter had three votes, which he could divide in any way. As a result of this system, each party had at least one representative in each district, and a party in the minority in a district often had a spot it could give to a candidate with no apparent chance of winning. Many women took this avenue into office, surprising their parties when they won a seat in the House. Illinois was mainly Republican, except for the highly Democratic Cook County.
The women elected during the time period covered had no previous experience in political office, but most were involved in partisan and women's groups. They received support from women's political groups, especially the League of Women Voters. Many also came from political families. Several followed their husbands into office. Florence Fifer Bohrer's father had been Governor, and Anna Wilmarth Ickes' husband was Harold Ickes, who became Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These women's families lent them support on the campaign trail. Since they did not have a background in local party machines, the elected women were independent and free to oppose the machines when voting. Most had teaching or clerical backgrounds. Most were married or widowed. All but one was from either Chicago or medium-sized cities in Northern Illinois.
Many of the women in the Illinois General Assembly in the early twentieth century served on the Education, Industrial Affairs and Efficiency, and Economy Committees. None served on the Judiciary or Appropriations Committees because legislators could request committees, but party leaders made the final decisions, it is unclear whether or not the women chose the committees on which they served. However, their absence from appropriations and judiciary, the two most powerful committees, suggests that party leaders steered them away from positions of power. The women legislators worked on bills on a variety of issues, but they focused most on education, health and welfare, women's rights, poverty, the mentally and physically handicapped, civil service, and government reform. The bills they sponsored suggested that this group of legislators shared a common thread of interest in addressing the concerns of underrepresented, undervalued, and mistreated segments of the population.
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World Medical Association Declaration on Hunger Strikers. Adopted by the 43rd World Medical Assembly Malta, November 1991 and Editorially Revised at the 44the World Medical Assembly Marbella, Spain, September 1992; and Revised by the WMA General Assembly, Pilanesberg, South Africa, October 2006 Unknown author (World Medical Association [WMA], 2006-10)