Helen Fraser

14 September 1881 – 2 December 1979


Helen Fraser later Helen Moyes was a suffragist, feminist, educationalist and Liberal Party politician.

Fraser was born in Leeds, Yorkshire to Scottish parents. She was educated at Higher Grade School, Queen's Park, Glasgow. She opened a studio in Glasgow that specialised in black and white illustration work and embroidery.

She joined the Women's Social and Political Union [WSPU] after hearing Teresa Billington speak in Glasgow. She travelled to England to help the WSPU campaign at the Huddersfield by-election, 1906. She became Treasurer of the Glasgow WSPU and a WSPU Scottish Organiser. By 1908 she was becoming disillusioned with the violent militant tactics of the WSPU. When she resigned from the WSPU, she was approached by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies [NUWSS] and agreed to work for them. She was a member of the NUWSS national executive committee for 14 years.

Fraser was effective as a public speaker and had speaking engagements not just in Scotland, but all around Britain. During the Great War she worked as a Commissioner for the National War Saving Committee. She was seconded to the Board of Agriculture to persuade women to work on the land. In 1917 at the suggestion of Millicent Fawcett she was included by the British Government as part of the official British War Mission to the US, to speak about Britain's war effort. She travelled through 40 states and spoke 332 times in 312 days. In 1918, on returning to Britain, her book of the tour Women and War Work was published.

In 1918, when women gained the right to stand as parliamentary candidates, she turned her attention to the campaign to elect women as members of parliament. She did not contest the 1918 General Election. She took an active role in the affairs of a number of organisations; She was a member of the Executive Committee, of the NUWSS successor organisation the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, she was a member of the Common Interests Committee of the English-Speaking Union, she was involved in the Reunion of British War Missions in U.S.A., she was a member of the Council for the Representation of Women in the League of Nations and she was a Member of the British Institute of International Affairs.

Her efforts during the war and after had come to the attention of Prime Minister David Lloyd George and she joined his National Liberal organisation. In 1922 she was the first woman to be adopted in Scotland as an official prospective parliamentary candidate when she was selected as National Liberal candidate for the Govan Division of Glasgow for the 1922 General Election. She was one of only three women candidates to contest the general election in Scotland. Govan was a safe Labour seat and she was not expected to win.

She emigrated to Sydney, Australia with her husband in 1938 or 1939. Late in her life she wrote an autobiography, entitled A Woman in a Man's World, that was published in 1971.

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