1 Born to a Conservative family and educated in Glasgow, it was at the age of 21 that Mary attended a speech by John Turner discussing the poor conditions of workers and the manner in which they were treated by their employers.

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2 Horrified by the dire conditions faced by low-paid workers, she fought to give them a voice. In 1903, she became the first woman on the Shop Assistants’ Union’s national executive board and shortly after, founded the National Federation of Women Workers.

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3 Mary believed women workers should be paid and treated fairly. Inspiring a whole generation of female activists, Mary championed a national minimum wage and got women on the political agenda. By 1914 the NFWW had organised more than 300,000 women.

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4 Mary was editor of The Woman Worker, which sought to further the work of the NFWW through a variety of articles, commentaries, advertisements, and anecdotes. The archives of Glasgow Women’s Library hold nine editions of this periodical, which quickly became a weekly newspaper due to the overwhelming popularity with men and women throughout Britain. In the very first edition Mary Macarthur made an editorial announcement which proved to be her and the Federation’s mission objective: ‘To teach the need for unity, to help improve working conditions, to present a monthly picture of the many activities of women Trade Unionists, to discuss all questions affecting the interests and welfare of women.’

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5 Determined to make sure women’s improved conditions did not end when the war did, Mary persuaded the Government’s reconstruction committee in 1919 to provide training, a minimum wage, a 40 hour week and two weeks’ holiday a year for female workers. She died in 1921 at the young age of 41