Ethel Tawse Jollie

Ethel Tawse Jollie was not only the first female member of parliament for the Rhodesian parliament, but actually the first female member of any British Empire parliament outside of Britain itself. This was despite being an anti-suffragist before the Great War. The War and the role of women began to change her mind but it was actually the status of Rhodesia within the Empire that brought her in to politics in 1920.

She was elected to the legislative council in 1920 as a member of the Responsible Government Association. This party was dedicated to Rhodesia receiving its own self-government apart from the BSAC and separate from the Union of South Africa. When it won the referendum for this option in 1922 it became the Rhodesia Party. In the 1924 election, she was elected as the member for Umtali. She was defeated in the 1928 election for the Eastern constituency and was defeated again in 1933.

She published Real Rhodesia in 1924 which was republished in 1971 during UDI. She wrote extensively during the 1920s and 30s and became the colony's leading publicist with articles on Rhodesian and Imperial affairs being published in British, American and South African newspapers, magazines and journals.

Her husband died in 1932 and she entered a period of penury despite her writings. She had to sell her farm in 1934 and move to a flat in Salisbury. She was appointed Women's Employment Officer but was diagnosed with cancer. She moved back to Britain to convalesce in an old-people's home in 1946. However, the Rhodesian government under the auspices of the PM Sir Godfrey Huggins, made funds available to her so that she could return to Salisbury to a small flat and a pension. She died there in 1950.

This image was kindly donated by Chris Whitehead.

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by Stephen Luscombe