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Speech by Louise Otto, Presiding Officer [erste Vorsitzende] of the General German Women's Association at its Third General Assembly (1869)

In her report to the third general assembly of the General German Women's Association (1869), presiding officer Louise Otto pointed to the long-term nature of efforts to improve women's standing and underscored the crucial role of local chapters. Otto was also pleased to note the support given to the association by a Philosophers' Congress and workers alike.

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[ . . . ]

If I had to give an accounting of the effectiveness of our association and what it has accomplished to date, I would be at a loss if we were talking about visible results. Establishing useful institutes for a rapid and obvious improvement of the lot of women cannot be the task of the General German Women’s Association, at least not now, as long as it does not dispose of substantial financial means. For now that is a matter for the local associations, and striving to establish these is one of its major tasks. [ . . . ]

Providing this impetus is precisely one of the chief purposes of our association. It provides that impetus first of all by its mere existence, by the fact that through it there exists a focal point for all women who are concerned to work on solving the women’s question. In the same way nearly all of us who have come here from north and south have come to know each other only since the establishment of this association, and have thereby discovered that there are like-minded and enthusiastic women everywhere who are willing to dedicate their energy to a common idea, and, by stepping out of their isolation, to find in a common enterprise the happiness they have until now longed for in vain. [ . . . ]

And so in July I accepted an invitation from the tradesmen’s association [Handwerkerverein] in Berlin to give a speech there about the work of women in the service of humanity, which resulted in the establishment of a working women’s association. [ . . . ]

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