Adelaide living suffrage anniversary mary lee

Mary Lee (1821–1909) was a key figure in the women’s suffrage movement at the end of the 19th century, one of the first initiatives advancing gender equality.

Devoting herself to advocating for legal changes in women’s sexual and social status, she was the foundation secretary of the Social Purity Society, which inaugurated the South Australian Women’s Suffrage League in 1888.

Through her work in the league, Lee played a vital role in the passing of the Constitution Amendment Act on 18 December 1894, making South Australia the second place in the world, after New Zealand, to legislate women’s rights to vote, and to stand for public office.

In 2017 the City of Adelaide named Mary Lee Park (Park 27B) to honour this social reformer, and in 1994 unveiled a commemorative sculpture of Lee in Prince Henry Gardens, North Terrace, to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage in South Australia.

Celebrating 125 years of women's suffrage in South Australia.

Image: State Library of South Australia, B 70647, 1880