Nellie Letitia Mooney (McClung)
Born: 20 October 1873 (Ontario, Canada). Died: 1 Sept 1951 (British Columbia, Canada). Prominent crusader in the successful drives for female enfranchisement in Manitoba and Alberta, and a nationally known feminist and social reformer. Also an author, politician, teacher, and office holder (elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1921). Member of Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women’s Equity League.
Nellie McClung’s published works:
Lieutenant Ethel B. Weed, an American Women’s Information Officer, pressed tirelessly for revisions to the Civil Code of 1898 (Tsuchiya 142). Weed brought civil code reform to the forefront of women’s issues in Japan through government-sponsored mass media, such as the weekly “Women’s Hour” radio program, which hosted round table discussions on a variety of women’s political concerns (145). Prior to the 1946 election, the first election in which women were able to vote in Japanese history, Weed toured the nation, sponsoring talks on women’s issues and urging women to exercise their new voting rights (149). Japanese women had a great deal to say about family law reforms. They expressed grievances over the inability to hold a cheating husband accountable and the absence of legal rights for women who remarried, and Weed diligently recorded these questions and complaints (150).
The resulting new Civil Code of 1948 was the culmination of Weed and her dedicated team’s work over the past several years. In the document’s own words: “This Code must be construed in accordance with honoring the dignity of individuals and the essential equality of both sexes” (“Civil Code” p. 2; Note 1: Original Japanese). These early reforms and the restructuring, “democratization” of the family system represented the beginning of a dramatic paradigm shift for Japanese women’s personal identities. This new system not only liberated legally, but also emphasized the importance of the individual over the group. For the first time in Japanese history, regardless of class, women were being encouraged to embrace individual desires and ambitions. However, this was largely limited to “official stances” of the occupation government. The pressures and realities of family life remained for women already married or caring for children, and many of Japan’s conservative male politicians remained in favor of reinstating many aspects of the family-state, long after it had been dismantled.
Note 1: Original Japanese この法律は、個人の尊厳と両性の本質的平等を旨として、解釈しなければならない
Tsuchiya, Yuka. “Democratizing the Japanese Family: The Role of the Civil Information and Education Section in the Allied Occupation 1945-1952”. The Japanese Journal of American Studies. No. 5 (1993-1994): 137-162.
“Civil Code (Act No. 89 of 1896)”. Government of Japan Cabinet Secretariat. Trans. of “民法 (明治二十九年法律第八十九号)”. Translations of Laws and Regulations. <http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data2.html>.