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Working Conditions

women, social and liberty

WORKING CONDITIONS Fortunately, however, for all of us as consumers, most of us as workers are, after all, at work most of the time, and social construction concerns itself inevitably even more with the conditions of work than with those of enforced idleness.

Of child labor we have already said enough. We will have none of it. As to the employment of older girls and boys, we have also said as much as is necessary, perhaps, but builders of the social structure will have to give this subject their very earnest consideration. From fourteen to twenty work should not crowd out education. The one should dovetail into the other, so that the health, the character, and the future life-long efficiency of the young people will have adequate safeguards. In a rational social organization the work will be done by adults, not by adolescents; by the grown up, not by the growing up. Of course, keeping children and youths out of work is not enough. The main thing is to prepare them for work later on and for life.

Women in industry also need special protection and the kind of liberty that rests upon a solid basis of physiology and anatomy, of racial security and welfare, of consideration for the interests of the family and of children yet unborn, rather than the negative and dangerous kind of liberty which em ployers and their lawyers sometimes invoke in behalf of women—the unlimited liberty of indi vidual contract. Laws limiting the total number

of hours of women's work in a day and in a week, restricting their employment at night and in physi cally injurious occupations, represent a sober con sensus of public opinion originating largely with women; created, sustained, and justified by women; but accepted also by competent medical au thority, by lawmakers and courts, mostly repre sented by men. It is a subject which does not in volve disputed issues of suffrage or feminism, save as some may think that women as voters might be able to push such measures more vigorously. The principle has certainly been established already that it does not contravene the_ onstitution or the rights of individuals to protect women in their own in terests and in the common interest from night work, injurious work, and overwork.