Women in Parliament
By 1919 the time had come. Women could finally vote and stand for election. The first women entered the parliament: of the 170 deputies on the National Constituent Assembly, eight were women – only 4.7% of deputies – seven members of the Social Democratic Workers Party and one of the Christian Social Party. Overall, the percentage of women in the National Council in the First Republic would only increase marginally.
Those eight women had been politically active for a long time – nearly all were part of the Social Democratic Women’s Movement. Many grew up in working class families and wanted to use their work in parliament to campaign against social injustice and gender discrimination.
The first speech by a woman in parliament was held by » Adelheid Popp and concerned the abolition of the nobility.
» Maria Tusch was the only woman from one of the Federal States, Carinthia, to enter the National Assembly in 1919.
The first legislation prepared and introduced by women was the Domestic Servants Law, which replaced the old Servants’ Regulations in 1920. » Anna Boschek, an early trade unionist, masterminded its progress. The law on the eight-hour working day also bore her stamp, as did bills on rest periods, ban on night work and factory inspection.
» Emmy Freundlich often asked to speak in the National Council, mainly on economic matters but also on nutrition and consumer issues. Acknowledged as an economic politician, she became the only woman member of the League of Nations' Economic Section.
In the year 1925, the law “Lex Rudel-Zeynek” concerning the alimony rights of single mothers passed, which came into being with the help of » Olga Rudel-Zeynek, a Christian Social. In 1927 she became the first President of the Federal Council and therefore the first woman in the world to be leader of a parliamentary institution.
The first female members of the Federal Council in December 1920 were » Marie Bock, » Fanny Starhemberg and » Berta Pichl. The first Austrian woman in government was the communist » Hella Postranecky, but not until the Second Republic. She held office as Undersecretary for Public Nutrition in the Provisional Government Renner from April to December 1945.