Vida Goldstein (1869–1949) was born in Portland, Victoria. She was a pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement.
Vida’s activism started in the 1890s: she helped her mother collect signatures for the Woman Suffrage Petition in 1891 (it amassed almost 30,000 signatures) and joined numerous reform organisations and activities, including the Anti-Sweating League, which campaigned against sweatshops and for a minimum wage. Suffrage became Vida’s main interest between 1899 and 1908. She travelled to the USA in 1902 to speak at the International Woman Suffrage Conference.
She was also one of the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament, having contested for the Australian Senate in 1903 as an Independent candidate, proposed by the Women’s Federal Political Association (of which she was president). She won just over 51 thousand votes but lost the election; she would contest for parliament four more times (1910 and 1917 for the Senate, 1913 and 1914 for the House of Representatives).
Vida worked for numerous social reforms—equal property rights for man and wife, for example. She also campaigned for peace: she was the chairman of the Peace Alliance, formed the Women’s Peace Army in 1915 and represented Australian women at a Women’s Peace Conference in Zurich.
Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell