National Geographic : 1910 Jun
WHERE WOMEN VOTE themselves such efficient social and politi cal workers, he felt that it would be an advantage to the church if they should be made eligible to many church offices. The experience of three years of woman suffrage in Finland has proved, I think, beyond doubt that the emancipa tion of women is not a thing to be feared or dreaded, but merely a natural step in the evolution of modern society. When the suffrage was extended to the women they responded with interest and enthusiasm, and have shown them selves capable of serving on all the vari ous legislative committees. They have not disturbed the political balance of power, but have maintained it precisely as before, uniting as women only for the furtherance of social and legal reforms of importance to women, but also of very vital importance to the welfare and pros perity of the community at large. Families have not been broken up by the woman's vote; rather have they tended to become more united by a strong bond of common interest. Instead of lessening the interest that women take in the education and the welfare of their children, the suffrage has greatly intensi fied that interest by making it possible for them to regulate and, in some degree at least, to improve the schools to which their children are sent and the different branches of work which they later under take. Experience has shown, too, that when the doors are opened, not all women rush madly into political life, but only those who are specially qualified for it; that for the vast majority of women the duties of the franchise consist in little more than casting their ballots, and that even the women who participate actively in political life devote no more time to it than they devoted previously to their extra domestic occupations or profess ions-that is, that even the small number of women who actually sit in Parliament need not neglect their homes unduly. But last and most important of all, it has shown that the cause that women have most at heart is the care and welfare of children. NOTES ON FINLAND ESPITE the obvious dissimilarity between Finland and the United States, the two countries have, neverthe less, many points in common, for Fin land stands in much the same position in relation to Sweden as the United States does in relation to England, from the:: point of view of language, of social in stitutions, and the position of its women.. The Swedish language, brought over by the Swedes who early settled along: the coast, became the language of culture: in Finland, and the written language is; still identical with the written language: of Sweden, but in Sweden it is spoken as English is in England-with a rhyth mic cadence and a rising inflection. In Finland Swedish is spoken as English is in America, less formally and with more: variation in emphasis. In Finland, also,. certain words in common use have changed their connotation, just as certain. English words have in America. But whereas in America the English: language is the common language among all classes of the population, and serves, as a bond of union which all foreigners coming to the country are anxious to, share, in Finland now the Swedish lan guage has become a great stumbling block. Formerly the Swedes were in almost absolute control of the social and political life of the country, and the language of. the Finnish peasants of the interior had, in the early days, little influence on the general life of the country. Within the last few years, however,. Finland has passed through a marvel ously rapid process of evolution. Many Finns of pure Finnish stock have become doctors and lawyers, Senators and college professors; the Finnish peasants have gained political equality and they are now demanding equal educational advantages, so that now the question of language has become a question of vital impor tance. The current belief in America seems to be that the life of the country, polit ically, socially, and intellectually, is some thing quite distinct and individual, neither 493"