Who is Wilhelmine Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett?

Wilhelmine Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett was a Native Hawaiian suffragist who helped organize the National Women’s Equal Suffrage Association of Hawai’i (WESAH) in 1912. While many were against granting the right of suffrage to Asian women, Dowsett strongly believed in the fight for all women to vote. At one point during the movement, she was able to rally nearly 500 women of “various nationalities, of all ages,” including Princess Kalaniana’ole and Lahilahi Webb, former lady-in-waiting to Queen Lili’uokalani’s court to storm the floor of the House to demand “Votes for Women.”

“I can speak for my Hawaiian sisters, and I can say that in every way the woman is man’s superior. She will not only cast her vote fully as intelligently – she will vote, honestly. There isn’t enough money in the world to buy her vote.”

Wilhelmine Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett. 1918, Photograph, Unknown author - Hawaii State Archives (PP-71-2-014)

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