History Podcasts

Has women's suffrage ever decided an election?

Has women's suffrage ever decided an election?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

I'm curious whether women's suffrage has ever changed the direction of an election. Polls often show differences between men and women, but they are often fairly highly correlated, so I wonder if women's suffrage has ever proved decisive in an election.

Since this is a matter of curiosity I'd welcome responses from anywhere in the world; or for more narrow focus: federal and gubernatorial elections in the United States following the adoption of the 19th amendment in 1920.

(The question is not whether or not women's suffrage confers political power on women. Candidates have to appeal to the populace long before the final election, and suffrage certainly affects that political calculus.)

You're not the first person to ask this question.

It's obviously not possible to know exactly how any election would have gone in things were different, but we have enough demographic polling data to make educated guesses.

FiveThirtyEight has done extensive analyses on what voting maps would look like if only specific demographics voted. In this most recent midterm they estimated/predicted that an all male electorate would have elected a majority Republican House of Representatives.

I find this an unsatisfactory answer but perhaps it will provoke someone to make a better one along similar lines. In the 2012 US presidential election, men voted (according to exit polls) 52:45 in favour of Romney over Obama, compared with the overall result of 51:47 in favour of Obama.

So if we assume the exit polls give a perfectly accurate indication of actual voting patterns, going from the whole electorate to just men turns Obama+4 into Romney+7, an 11-point swing. And if we assume that that translates into an 11-point swing in every state, that gets Romney at least these states listed on the Wikipedia page about the election as having <10% margins for Obama: Florida (1%; 29EV), Ohio (3%; 18EV), Virginia (4%; 13EV), Colorado (5%; 9EV), Pennsylvania (5%; 20EV), New Hampshire (6%; 4EV), Iowa (6%; 6EV), Nevada (7%; 6EV), Wisconsin (7%; 10EV), Minnesota (8%; 10EV), Maine-2 (9%; 1EV), Michigan (10%; 16EV). Since Obama won by 332:206 EV, a margin of 126 EV, transferring 64 EV from Obama to Romney would yield a Romney win. The actual total of the numbers above is 142.

Those italicized assumptions are pretty dubious, but it seems like there's probably enough slack to make it not matter: a uniform 5.4% swing would have got Romney the states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania, already comfortably more than enough to win.

To do this analysis properly we'd need state-by-state exit poll data broken down by sex (which may well exist but my very cursory search didn't find it), and estimates of how accurate exit polls are (which may also exist but I confess I haven't looked), and enough effort to put those things together properly (which, as you can see, I haven't provided) -- which is why I am not altogether satisfied by this answer. It is, however, enough to convince me pretty firmly that if women's votes had been removed from the 2012 US presidential election (while somehow changing nothing else) then Romney would have won it instead of Obama.

In the 1933 Spanish general election women were enfranchised by the first time, and the right won the election - while in the previous 1931 election the left had won. One of the cited causes of that victory of the right was that women were more influenced by the Church than men, so they tended to follow more their priest's advice and vote for conservative parties.

Ironically, the enfranchisement of women that helped the right to win had been championed by the left and opposed by the right.

Addition (source and limits of the answer):

As the answer says, enfranchisement of women has been cited as one of the causes of the victory of the right - and that has been often repeated. However, as several comments point, how big was its contribution even whether there actually was a contribution is not clear, and even if it were it would be difficult to prove.

Just to give a synthesis - not very different from the Wikipedia article cited in comments -, I cite Gatell, Cristina. "Dones d'ahir, dones d'avui" Barcelona, 1993. ISBN:84-7533-835-6 page 63:

S'ha especulat molt sobre el sentit del vot femení en aquestes eleccions i la premsa d'esquerres va atribuir la victòria de les dretes al vot de les dones. Estudis posteriors han posat seriosament en dubte la vella creença del vot conservador de les dones i han demostrat que no existeix una correlació directa entre nombre de dones al cens i vots a la dreta.

A tentative translation:

There has been a lot of speculation about the meaning of female voting in these elections and the leftist press attributed the victory of women's right to vote. Further studies have seriously undermined the old belief in the conservative vote of women and have shown that there is no direct correlation between number of women in the census and votes on the right.

Although the explanation of the election outcome according to female vote is plausible, it should be noted that for leftist press this explanation could be a way to save face, because any other explanation would have need to blame at some extent the leftist government. Interestingly, I also checked a book of contemporary articles of right leaning Carles Sentís and in his very short summary of the causes of the outcome, the vote of women isn't mentioned - some actions of the government are mentioned, instead.

I might suggest the election of Susanna Madora Salter as mayor of Argonia, Kansas, in 1887.

From the Kansas Historical Society page on her:

First woman mayor in the U.S…

Soon after Kansas women gained the right to vote in municipal elections, voters elected (Salter)…

(She was) Nominated on the Prohibition Party ticket by several Argonia men as a joke, Salter surprised the group and received two-thirds of the votes.

A cursory glance at the data available doesn't lead me to a 'smoking gun', but the circumstances surrounding the election -- nominated 'as a joke' and elected 'just weeks after Kansas women had gained the right to vote in city elections' -- leads me to think it could be a good candidate for further research.

Wyoming granted women the vote in order to have enough voters to qualify for statehood; women's suffrage decided that election.

This article notes that women only started voting differently from men (as an aggregate) in presidential elections after 1980).

[W]omen became an increasingly important fixture of the Democratic base, starting with the 1980 election. Before that year, men's and women's voting patterns looked pretty similar - they voted at almost exactly equal rates for the Republican and Democratic candidates in the 1972 and 1976 presidential elections, for instance. That's why it was so shocking when in 1980, an 8-point gender gap emerged between the share of men and women who voted for Reagan, with 55 percent of men backing him but just 47 percent of women.

Key facts about women’s suffrage around the world, a century after U.S. ratified 19th Amendment

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Soweto in April 1994 for South Africa’s first free and democratic general election. (Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

This year marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. But the United States was hardly the first country to codify women’s suffrage, and barriers to vote persisted for some groups of U.S. women for decades. At least 20 nations preceded the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center analysis of women’s enfranchisement measures in 198 countries and self-administering territories. Today, none of these 198 countries and territories bar women from voting because of their sex some countries do not hold national elections.

Here is a closer look at the history of women’s suffrage around the world. This analysis focuses on when women in each country won the right to vote in national elections, not regional or local elections.

A century after U.S. women gained the right to vote, we conducted this analysis to find out when women in other countries were first enfranchised at the national level. The analysis is based on information about 198 countries and self-administering territories from government publications, historical documents from organizations like the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and news reports. For each country or territory, the year in which women received the right is based on the date this right was codified in a law or constitution or officially granted as part of a United Nations plebiscite. The analysis looks only at when women gained the right to vote in national elections, not in regional or local elections. In some cases, data about when these measures were passed is incomplete, contradicted in other publications or difficult to find, so this analysis is as complete and accurate as possible within our research limitations.

Saudi Arabia and Brunei do not hold national elections, and Hong Kong and Macau do not participate in China’s elections. In all four of these jurisdictions, women are able to vote in local elections.

The 198 countries and self-administering territories covered by this analysis are home to more than 99.5% of the world’s population. They include 192 of the 193 member states of the United Nations (data for North Korea is not included), plus six self-administering territories: Kosovo, Hong Kong, Macau, the Palestinian territories, Taiwan and Western Sahara. Reporting on these territories does not imply any position on what their international political status should be, only recognition that the de facto situations in these territories require separate analysis.

New Zealand enfranchised its female citizens in 1893, making it the first nation or territory to formally allow women to vote in national elections. At least 19 other countries also did so prior to the U.S. passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, according to our analysis. These countries are spread across Europe and Asia, and about half first gave women this right while under Russian or Soviet control or shortly after independence from Russia. Russia itself extended the vote to women after demonstrations in 1917.

In at least eight additional countries, some women – but not all – gained equal voting rights in or before 1920.

More than half of the countries and territories we analyzed (129 out of 198) granted women the right to vote between 1893 and 1960. This includes all but six European nations. Some of the European nations that allowed universal suffrage after 1960 include Switzerland (1971), Portugal (1976) and Liechtenstein (1984).

In other world regions, women secured the right to vote in national elections only after major cultural or governmental shifts. For example, 80% of the countries in Africa we analyzed granted citizens universal suffrage between 1950 and 1975 – a period of sweeping European decolonization for the continent (as well for parts of Asia and Latin America). Many newly independent nations adopted universal suffrage along with new governments and constitutions.

Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are the most recent countries or territories to allow women to participate in national elections, although the picture is complicated. Bhutan and the UAE only established national elections recently. Bhutan shifted from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy in 2007. The UAE allowed a small number of male and female citizens to vote in the country’s first national elections in 2006. In Kuwait, the country’s Parliament amended an election law in 2005 the change guaranteed women the right to vote and run for office.

In Saudi Arabia, women were enfranchised in local elections in 2015 the country does not hold national elections. South Sudan was established in 2011. It is not included among the most recent countries to give women the right to vote because women had this right starting in 1964, when the area was part of Sudan.

At least 19 nations – including the U.S. – initially restricted the right to vote for women of certain backgrounds based on demographic factors such as race, age, education level or marital status. Sometimes, decades passed before all citizens were enfranchised. In the U.S., for example, more than four decades passed between the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which took aim at discriminatory state and local restrictions intended to prevent Black Americans from voting.

Restrictions like these weren’t unique to the U.S. In Canada, for example, legislation in 1918 expanded suffrage to women, but it excluded Canadians from Asian Canadian and Indigenous backgrounds. Asian Canadians were not fully enfranchised until the 1940s, and Indigenous people could not vote until 1960.

In Australia, Indigenous women were not enfranchised until 1962, six decades after non-Indigenous women were able to vote. In South Africa, more than 60 years passed between when White women won voting rights in 1930 and when Black women won them in 1993, following the end of apartheid.

When India first expanded voting rights to women in 1935, only those who were married to a male voter, or possessed specific literacy qualifications, could vote. Universal suffrage followed in 1950.

Some countries also initially set a higher minimum age for women voters than for their male counterparts. In 1915, for example, Icelandic women over age 40 gained the right to vote. Five years later, the voting age for women was lowered to 25, in line with the requirement for men.

Legal and cultural restrictions limited women’s voter participation in some countries and territories even after enfranchisement. Ecuador, for instance, became the first Latin American country to grant women voting rights in 1929, but it only extended the franchise to literate Ecuadorian women, and voting was not mandatory for women as it was for men. A new constitution in 1967 made voting mandatory for literate women, and it wasn’t until 1979 that the literacy requirement was dropped completely. Several other countries, such as Hungary and Guatemala, also imposed literacy requirements on women voters that were lifted later.

More recently, Samoa’s government system allowed only those with chiefly titles, known as matai, to vote in parliamentary elections, effectively excluding women from the vote. The island nation adopted universal suffrage in 1990.

In some places, women were able to vote in local elections before they were enfranchised at the national level – or vice versa. In Switzerland, for example, women secured the right to vote in national elections in 1971 but had been able to vote locally in some cantons, or states, since 1959. But in another canton, Appenzell Innerrhoden, women were only given the right to vote in local elections after a 1990 federal court ruling.

Few countries and territories have rescinded women’s voting rights after initially granting them, but there are some notable exceptions. Afghanistan, for instance, was an early adopter of women’s suffrage after winning independence from Britain in 1919. Government shifts and instability over the next almost 100 years resulted in women losing and formally regaining the right to participate in elections several times. Women have the right to vote in Afghanistan today, but there are still barriers in place that limit their participation.


19 Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.” On Rankin, see Hannah Josephson, Jeannette Rankin: First Lady in Congress (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974) Norma Smith, Jeannette Rankin: America’s Conscience (Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2002) James J. Lopach and Jean A. Lutkowski, Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2005).

20 “Democrats Name Kansas Woman To Run For Congress,” 7 August 1916, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 1 “Washington Woman Put Up For Congress,” 14 September 1916, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 7.

21 “Congresswoman Rankin Real Girl Likes Nice Gowns and Tidy Hair,” 4 March 1917, Washington Post. See also Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “The Original ‘Year of the Woman,’” 30 January 2017, Whereas: Stories from the People's House.

22 Josephson, Jeannette Rankin: 71 Smith, Jeannette Rankin: 110. See also “House Wildly Cheers ‘Lady from Montana,’” 3 April 1917, Chicago Daily Tribune: 9 and Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Jeannette Rankin Remembered in Video: Opening Day of the 65th Congress (1917–1919).”

23 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (2 April 1917): 105–108, 128 “Clark Re-Elected Speaker of House,” 3 April 1917, Atlanta Constitution: 4.

24 Hearings before the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage, Woman Suffrage, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (1917): 56–58.

25 Smith, Jeannette Rankin: 122 “House Advances Suffrage Cause,” 19 May 1917, Christian Science Monitor: 3.

26 “House Advances Suffrage Cause” “Suffrage Wins Point in House,” 7 June 1917, Christian Science Monitor: 7 “House Suffrage Leaders Confer,” 4 September 1917, Christian Science Monitor: 7.

27 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 7370.

28 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 7371.

29 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 7372.

30 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 7372.

31 House Journal, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 369 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 1st sess. (24 September 1917): 7384.

32 “Vote on Suffrage in House on Jan. 10,” 19 December 1917, New York Times: 5.

33 “Amendments in House,” 12 December 1917, Washington Post: 2.

34 “Vote on Suffrage in House on Jan. 10.”

35 “Vote on Suffrage in House on Jan. 10.”

36 Smith, Jeannette Rankin: 123.

37 “Suffrage Wins,” 11 January 1918, Chicago Daily Tribune: 1.

38 “House For Suffrage 274 to 136,” 11 January 1918, New York Times: 1.

39 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 771.

40 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 771.

41 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 772.

42 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 787–788.

43 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 781.

44 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 766 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (1 October 1918): 10981–10983.

45 Carrie Chapman Catt to Edwin Yates Webb, 5 January 1918, Petitions and Memorials, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Record Group 223, National Archives and Records Administration, accessed 25 April 2019, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/74884353.

46 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 771.

47 House Journal, 65th Cong., 2nd sess. (10 January 1918): 96–97 “House For Suffrage 274 to 136” “Suffrage Wins.”

48 Kendrick A. Clements, The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992): 161.

49 “Suffrage Vote Puts Democrats In Hole,” 2 October 1918, Indianapolis Star: 1.

50 Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Party Divisions of the House of Representatives, 1789 to Present” U.S. Senate Historical Office, “Party Division,” https://www.senate.gov/history/partydiv.htm.

51 Congressional Record, House, 65th Cong., 3rd sess. (4 March 1919): 5079.

Which State Had Women’s Suffrage First?

This year, many are celebrating the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which extended suffrage by preventing states from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. This was a historic day in both United States history and women’s history, and is something worth celebrating. It was the culmination of decades of hard work and struggle for suffragists across the nation, from New York to California, from Colorado to Washington D.C. itself.

But the 1920 election was not the first time that women voted in the United States. Not by a long shot.

For many, many years, the laws dictating who could vote in both local and national elections were not decided on the federal level. Instead, it varied significantly between states and territories—and many had given women the right to vote long before it was realized on a national scale.

So which state granted women suffrage first?

The answer seems like it should be clear cut, but like most things in United States history, it is much more complicated than you might expect. There is a great deal of nuance and semantics, and several different states can claim to be the first.

Chronologically, the first state in the union in which women voted was New Jersey. The original 1776 New Jersey State Constitution provided suffrage to its citizens without mentioning gender or race—the only requirements were that they be “inhabits of this State” who were “of full age” and “worth fifty pounds proclamation money.” That is, all adults who owned at least fifty pounds worth of property were eligible to vote. This was later reinforced by a much more explicit ruling by the state’s supreme court in the 1790s, which made it clear that women held the vote in New Jersey.

This still excluded large portions of the population. Fifty pounds was quite a lot of money in the 18th century, after all, and among women of the time typically only widows owned property. But the fact that wealthy women and free non-whites were able to vote in New Jersey made it unique among the original thirteen states of the union.

Unfortunately, New Jersey’s claim to the title of First State to Grant Suffrage is muddled by the fact that this equality did not last for more than thirty years. By 1807, the state legislature amended their constitution to restrict the vote to tax-paying white male citizens. The reason why is debated, but may have been tied to the complex party politics of the time.

The next opportunity for equal suffrage between the genders didn’t come until several decades later. In 1867, Kansas became the first state to hold a referendum on the question of women’s suffrage. The suggestion was voted down by an overwhelming majority, but of course the fight didn’t end there. It just moved further west.

Early suffragists like Minnie Reynolds Scalabrino championed women’s voting rights in their home states many of them went on to fight for suffrage on a national level.

The first place in the United States to enfranchise women after New Jersey was the Wyoming Territory, which passed women’s suffrage on December 10, 1869—an event which has been commemorated as Wyoming Day in the state ever since.

However, Wyoming was not the first territory where women voted. That distinction goes to the Utah Territory, which had enfranchised women only a few months later, on February 12, 1870. This bill was notably passed through the Utah Territorial Legislature by a unanimous vote. Elections in Utah were held earlier in the year than in Wyoming, so by pure luck Utah women got to practice their newly earned right first. Seraph Young, the niece of then Latter-Day Saints church president Brigham Young, was the first woman to vote in the nation since 1807.

But much like the situation half a century earlier in New Jersey, it was not to last. The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 repealed women’s suffrage in the Utah territory, as part of efforts by the federal government to combat polygamy and the power of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Voting rights would not be restored to Utahn women until 1896, when the territory gained statehood and wrote equal suffrage into its constitution.

Suffrage in Wyoming, at least, was here to stay. It was never repealed, and Wyoming women have held the vote continuously for longer than anywhere else in the United States. But was Wyoming the first state to grant suffrage? It’s slightly complicated.

Wyoming was a territory at the time of the 1869 act which granted its women suffrage. This gives neighboring state Colorado a possible claim to the title. Colorado held a referendum on November 7, 1893 on the subject of women’s suffrage. The proposed amendment was passed, making it the first time in U.S. history that a popular vote passed women’s suffrage into law (as opposed to an executive order or a legislative amendment), and the first time in U.S. history that a state granted women’s suffrage while being a state. However, by this point Wyoming had already been a state for more than three years.

So the answer to the question is not as easy as it may seem. Four current states—New Jersey, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado—can claim for various reasons to be the first state to grant women’s suffrage. And really, the answer depends on how exactly one asks the question what is meant by “state” and whether or not later rescinding that right disqualifies anyone.

This flyer was used by suffragists in 1919 to help gain support for the Nineteenth Amendment. The map it depicts shows the different levels of suffrage held by women in different states.

But at the end of the day, none of that is as important as what was achieved. The struggle for women’s suffrage was one that transcended territorial boundaries and state lines. It covered entire generations, and lasted all the way from the American Revolution, through the entire 19th century, and right up until the Roaring Twenties. It was not a competition. It was a unifying struggle that brought women, and men, from all across the nation together.

Several other states granted women the vote before it reached the federal level. First came Idaho, in 1896. In 1910, Washington women voted for the first time. This was quickly followed in 1911 by California. In 1912, Arizona, Kansas, and the Alaska Territory all granted women suffrage. Illinois women were granted suffrage in 1913, and the next year Nevada and Montana followed. By 1919, nine more states (Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Dakota) had granted partial or full suffrage to female citizens.

Each of these states and territories represents another victory on the long road to full suffrage. Each one was the result of thousands of individuals working and struggling together, through protests and marches, demonstrations and conventions, and even political campaigns. This year, for the hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, our goal isn’t just to celebrate the final victory. We want to celebrate each and every step along the way.

42c. Women's Suffrage at Last

After the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 demanded women's suffrage for the first time, America became distracted by the coming Civil War. The issue of the vote resurfaced during Reconstruction.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution proposed granting the right to vote to African American males. Many female suffragists at the time were outraged. They simply could not believe that those who suffered 350 years of bondage would be enfranchised before America's women.

A Movement Divided

Activists such as Frederick Douglass , Lucy Stone , and Henry Blackwell argued that the 1860s was the time for the black male. Linking black suffrage with female suffrage would surely accomplish neither. Susan B. Anthony , Elizabeth Cady Stanton , and Sojourner Truth disagreed. They would accept nothing less than immediate federal action supporting the vote for women.

Voting rights were guaranteed for women in the U.S. in 1920 with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. But women's suffrage campaigns have been fought around the world. What nations were ahead of the U.S. in voting equality and what nations still ban women from casting their votes?

Stone and Blackwell formed the American Woman Suffrage Association and believed that pressuring state governments was the most effective route. Anthony and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and pressed for a constitutional amendment. This split occurred in 1869 and weakened the suffrage movement for the next two decades.

Anthony and Stanton engaged in high-profile, headline-grabbing tactics. In 1872, they endorsed Victoria Woodhull , the Free Love candidate , for President. The NWSA was known to show up to the polls on election day to force officials to turn them away. They set up mock ballot boxes near the election sites so women could "vote" in protest. They continued to accept no compromise on a national amendment eliminating the gender requirement.

The AWSA chose a much more understated path. Stone and Blackwell actively lobbied state governments. Wyoming became the first state to grant full women's suffrage in 1869, and Utah followed suit the following year. But then it stopped. No other states granted full suffrage until the 1890s.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man &mdash when I could get it &mdash and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

&ndash Sojourner Truth. "Ain't I A Woman?" Delivered at Akron Ohio Women's Covention (1851)

The NAWSA to the Rescue

After Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell passed away, their daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell saw the need for a unified front. She approached the aging leadership of the NWSA, and in 1890, the two splinter groups formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony taking turns at the presidency.

Although the movement still had internal divisions, the mood of progressive reform breathed new life into its rank and file. Although Stanton and Anthony died before ever having accomplished their goal, the stage was set for a new generation to carry the torch.

The fight to victory was conducted by Carrie Chapman Catt . By 1910, most states west of Mississippi had granted full suffrage rights to women. States of the Midwest at least permitted women to vote in Presidential elections. But the Northeast and the South were steadfast in opposition. Catt knew that to ratify a national amendment, NAWSA would have to win a state in each of these key regions. Once cracks were made, the dam would surely burst.

Amid the backdrop of the United States entry into World War I, success finally came. In 1917, New York and Arkansas permitted women to vote, and momentum shifted toward suffrage. NAWSA supported the war effort throughout the ratification process, and the prominent positions women held no doubt resulted in increased support.

On August 18, 1920, the state legislature of Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment , giving it the necessary approval in 3/4 of the states, making it the supreme law of the land. The long struggle for voting rights was over.


In ancient Athens, often cited as the birthplace of democracy, only adult male citizens who owned land were permitted to vote. Through subsequent centuries, Europe was generally ruled by monarchs, though various forms of parliament arose at different times. The high rank ascribed to abbesses within the Catholic Church permitted some women the right to sit and vote at national assemblies – as with various high-ranking abbesses in Medieval Germany, who were ranked among the independent princes of the empire. Their Protestant successors enjoyed the same privilege almost into modern times. [10]

Marie Guyart, a French nun who worked with the First Nations peoples of Canada during the seventeenth century, wrote in 1654 regarding the suffrage practices of Iroquois women, "These female chieftains are women of standing amongst the savages, and they have a deciding vote in the councils. They make decisions there like the men, and it is they who even delegated the first ambassadors to discuss peace." [11] The Iroquois, like many First Nations peoples in North America, [ citation needed ] had a matrilineal kinship system. Property and descent were passed through the female line. Women elders voted on hereditary male chiefs and could depose them.

In Sweden, conditional women's suffrage was in effect during the Age of Liberty (1718–1772). [13] Other possible contenders for first "country" to grant women suffrage include the Corsican Republic (1755), the Pitcairn Islands (1838), the Isle of Man (1881), and Franceville (1889–1890), but some of these operated only briefly as independent states and others were not clearly independent.

In 1756, Lydia Taft became the first legal woman voter in colonial America. This occurred under British rule in the Massachusetts Colony. [14] In a New England town meeting in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, she voted on at least three occasions. [15] Unmarried white women who owned property could vote in New Jersey from 1776 to 1807.

In the 1792 elections in Sierra Leone, then a new British colony, all heads of household could vote and one-third were ethnic African women. [16]

19th century Edit

The female descendants of the Bounty mutineers who lived on Pitcairn Islands could vote from 1838. This right was transferred after they resettled in 1856 to Norfolk Island (now an Australian external territory). [17]

The emergence of modern democracy generally began with male citizens obtaining the right to vote in advance of female citizens, except in the Kingdom of Hawai'i, where universal suffrage was introduced in 1840 without mention of sex however, a constitutional amendment in 1852 rescinded female voting and put property qualifications on male voting. [18]

The seed for the first Woman's Rights Convention in the United States in Seneca Falls, New York was planted in 1840, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The conference refused to seat Mott and other women delegates from the U.S. because of their sex. In 1851, Stanton met temperance worker Susan B. Anthony, and shortly the two would be joined in the long struggle to secure the vote for women in the U.S. In 1868 Anthony encouraged working women from the printing and sewing trades in New York, who were excluded from men's trade unions, to form Working Women's Associations. As a delegate to the National Labor Congress in 1868, Anthony persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. The men at the conference deleted the reference to the vote. [19] In the US, women in the Wyoming Territory were permitted to both vote and stand for office in 1869. [20] Subsequent American suffrage groups often disagreed on tactics, with the National American Woman Suffrage Association arguing for a state-by-state campaign and the National Woman's Party focusing on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [21]

The 1840 constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii established a House of Representatives, but did not specify who was eligible to participate in the election of it. Some academics have argued that this omission enabled women to vote in the first elections, in which votes were cast by means of signatures on petitions but this interpretation remains controversial. [22] The second constitution of 1852 specified that suffrage was restricted to males over twenty years-old. [18]

In 1849, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, in Italy, was the first European state to have a law that provided for the vote of women, for administrative elections, taking up a tradition that was already informally sometimes present in Italy.

In 1881 the Isle of Man, an internally self-governing dependent territory of the British Crown, enfranchised women property owners. With this it provided the first action for women's suffrage within the British Isles. [17]

The Pacific commune of Franceville (now Port Vila, Vanuatu), maintained independence from 1889 to 1890, becoming the first self-governing nation to adopt universal suffrage without distinction of sex or color, although only white males were permitted to hold office. [23]

For countries that have their origins in self-governing colonies but later became independent nations in the 20th century, the Colony of New Zealand was the first to acknowledge women's right to vote in 1893, largely due to a movement led by Kate Sheppard. The British protectorate of Cook Islands rendered the same right in 1893 as well. [24] Another British colony in the same decade, South Australia, followed in 1894, enacting laws which not only extended voting to women, but also made women eligible to stand for election to its parliament at the next vote in 1895. [12]

20th century Edit

The newly federated Australian Federal Parliament passed laws to permit voting and standing for election, to adult women for National elections from 1902 (with the exception of Aboriginal women in some states). [25]

The first place in Europe to introduce women's suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1906, and it also became the first place in continental Europe to implement racially-equal suffrage for women. [5] [6] As a result of the 1907 parliamentary elections, Finland's voters elected 19 women as the first female members of a representative parliament. This was one of many self-governing actions in the Russian autonomous province that led to conflict with the Russian governor of Finland, ultimately leading to the creation of the Finnish nation in 1917.

In the years before World War I, women in Norway also won the right to vote. During WWI, Denmark, Canada, Russia, Germany, and Poland also recognized women's right to vote. The Representation of the People Act 1918 saw British women over 30 gain the vote. Dutch women won the vote in 1919, and American women on August 26, 1920, with the passage of the 19th Amendment (the Voting Rights Act of 1965 secured voting rights for racial minorities). Irish women won the same voting rights as men in the Irish Free State constitution, 1922. In 1928, British women won suffrage on the same terms as men, that is, for ages 21 and older. The suffrage of Turkish women was introduced in 1930 for local elections and in 1934 for national elections.

By the time French women were granted the suffrage in July 1944 by Charles de Gaulle's government in exile, by a vote of 51 for, 16 against, [26] France had been for about a decade the only Western country that did not at least allow women's suffrage at municipal elections. [27]

Voting rights for women were introduced into international law by the United Nations' Human Rights Commission, whose elected chair was Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21 stated: "(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, which went into force in 1954, enshrining the equal rights of women to vote, hold office, and access public services as set out by national laws. One of the most recent jurisdictions to acknowledge women's full right to vote was Bhutan in 2008 (its first national elections). [28] Most recently, in 2011 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia let women vote in the 2015 local elections and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.

The suffrage movement was a broad one, made up of women and men with a wide range of views. In terms of diversity, the greatest achievement of the twentieth-century woman suffrage movement was its extremely broad class base. [29] One major division, especially in Britain, was between suffragists, who sought to create change constitutionally, and suffragettes, led by English political activist Emmeline Pankhurst, who in 1903 formed the more militant Women's Social and Political Union. [30] Pankhurst would not be satisfied with anything but action on the question of women's enfranchisement, with "deeds, not words" the organisation's motto. [31] [32]

Throughout the world, the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which was established in the United States in 1873, campaigned for women's suffrage, in addition to ameliorating the condition of prostitutes. [33] [34] Under the leadership of Frances Willard, "the WCTU became the largest women's organization of its day and is now the oldest continuing women's organization in the United States." [35]

There was also a diversity of views on a "woman's place". Suffragist themes often included the notions that women were naturally kinder and more concerned about children and the elderly. As Kraditor shows, it was often assumed that women voters would have a civilizing effect on politics, opposing domestic violence, liquor, and emphasizing cleanliness and community. An opposing theme, Kraditor argues, held that women had the same moral standards. They should be equal in every way and that there was no such thing as a woman's "natural role". [36] [37]

For black women in the United States, achieving suffrage was a way to counter the disfranchisement of the men of their race. [38] Despite this discouragement, black suffragists continued to insist on their equal political rights. Starting in the 1890s, African American women began to assert their political rights aggressively from within their own clubs and suffrage societies. [39] "If white American women, with all their natural and acquired advantages, need the ballot," argued Adella Hunt Logan of Tuskegee, Alabama, "how much more do black Americans, male and female, need the strong defense of a vote to help secure their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" [38]

Country Year women first granted suffrage at national level Notes
Afghanistan 1965
Albania [40] 1945 Albanian women voted for the first time in the 1945 election.
Algeria 1962 In 1962, on its independence from France, Algeria granted equal voting rights to all men and women.
Andorra 1970
Angola 1975
Argentina 1947 [41] On September 23, 1947, the Female Enrollment Act (number 13,010) was enacted in the government of Juan Perón
Armenia 1917 (by application of the Russian legislation)
1919 March (by adoption of its own legislation) [42]
On June 21 and 23, 1919, first direct parliamentary elections were held in Armenia under universal suffrage - every person over the age of 20 had the right to vote regardless of gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. The 80-seat legislature contained three women deputies: Katarine Zalyan-Manukyan, Perchuhi Partizpanyan-Barseghyan and Varvara Sahakyan. [43] [44]
Australia 1902 (Non-indigenous only)

Aboriginal men and women were not given the right to vote until 1960 previously, they could only vote if they gave up their treaty status. It was not until 1948, when Canada signed the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that it was forced to examine the issue of discrimination against Aboriginal people. [54]

Africa Edit

Egypt Edit

The struggle for women's suffrage in Egypt first sparked from the nationalist 1919 Revolution in which women of all classes took to the streets in protest against the British occupation. The struggle was led by several Egyptian women's rights pioneers in the first half of the 20th century through protest, journalism, and lobbying. President Gamal Abdel-Nasser supported women's suffrage in 1956 after they were denied the vote under the British occupation. [89]

Sierra Leone Edit

One of the first occasions when women were able to vote was in the elections of the Nova Scotian settlers at Freetown. In the 1792 elections, all heads of household could vote and one-third were ethnic African women. [90] Women won the right to vote in Sierra Leone in 1930. [91]

South Africa Edit

The franchise was extended to white women 21 years or older by the Women's Enfranchisement Act, 1930. The first general election at which women could vote was the 1933 election. At that election Leila Reitz (wife of Deneys Reitz) was elected as the first female MP, representing Parktown for the South African Party. The limited voting rights available to non-white men in the Cape Province and Natal (Transvaal and the Orange Free State practically denied all non-whites the right to vote, and had also done so to white foreign nationals when independent in the 1800s) were not extended to women, and were themselves progressively eliminated between 1936 and 1968.

The right to vote for the Transkei Legislative Assembly, established in 1963 for the Transkei bantustan, was granted to all adult citizens of the Transkei, including women. Similar provision was made for the Legislative Assemblies created for other bantustans. All adult coloured citizens were eligible to vote for the Coloured Persons Representative Council, which was established in 1968 with limited legislative powers the council was however abolished in 1980. Similarly, all adult Indian citizens were eligible to vote for the South African Indian Council in 1981. In 1984 the Tricameral Parliament was established, and the right to vote for the House of Representatives and House of Delegates was granted to all adult Coloured and Indian citizens, respectively.

In 1994 the bantustans and the Tricameral Parliament were abolished and the right to vote for the National Assembly was granted to all adult citizens.

Southern Rhodesia Edit

Southern Rhodesian white women won the vote in 1919 and Ethel Tawse Jollie (1875–1950) was elected to the Southern Rhodesia legislature 1920–1928, the first woman to sit in any national Commonwealth Parliament outside Westminster. The influx of women settlers from Britain proved a decisive factor in the 1922 referendum that rejected annexation by a South Africa increasingly under the sway of traditionalist Afrikaner Nationalists in favor of Rhodesian Home Rule or "responsible government". [92] Black Rhodesian males qualified for the vote in 1923 (based only upon property, assets, income, and literacy). It is unclear when the first black woman qualified for the vote.

Asia Edit

Afghanistan Edit

Women have been able to vote in Afghanistan since 1965 (except during Taliban rule, 1996–2001, when no elections were held). [93] As of 2009 [update] , women have been casting fewer ballots in part due to being unaware of their voting rights. [94] In the 2014 election, Afghanistan's elected president pledged to bring women equal rights. [95]

Bangladesh Edit

Bangladesh was (mostly) the province of Bengal in India until 1947, then it became part of Pakistan. It became an independent nation in 1971. Women have had equal suffrage since 1947, and they have reserved seats in parliament. Bangladesh is notable in that since 1991, two women, namely Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia, have served terms as the country's Prime Minister continuously. Women have traditionally played a minimal role in politics beyond the anomaly of the two leaders few used to run against men few have been ministers. Recently, however, women have become more active in politics, with several prominent ministerial posts given to women and women participating in national, district and municipal elections against men and winning on several occasions. Choudhury and Hasanuzzaman argue that the strong patriarchal traditions of Bangladesh explain why women are so reluctant to stand up in politics. [96]

China Edit

The fight for women's suffrage in China was organized when Tang Qunying founded the women's suffrage organization Nüzi chanzheng tongmenghui, to ensure that women's suffrage would be included in the first Constitution drafted after the abolition of the Chinese Monarchy in 1911–1912. [97] A short but intense period of campaigning was ended with failure in 1914.

In the following period, local governments in China introduced women's suffrage in their own territories, such as Hunan and Guangdong in 1921 and Sichuan in 1923. [98]

Women's suffrage was included by the Kuomintang Government in the Constitution of 1936, [99] but because of the war, the reform could not be enacted until after the war and was finally introduced in 1947. [99]

India Edit

Women in India were allowed to vote right from the first general elections after the independence of India in 1947 unlike during the British rule who resisted allowing women to vote. [100] The Women's Indian Association (WIA) was founded in 1917. It sought votes for women and the right to hold legislative office on the same basis as men. These positions were endorsed by the main political groupings, the Indian National Congress. [101] British and Indian feminists combined in 1918 to publish a magazine Stri Dharma that featured international news from a feminist perspective. [102] In 1919 in the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, the British set up provincial legislatures which had the power to grant women's suffrage. Madras in 1921 granted votes to wealthy and educated women, under the same terms that applied to men. The other provinces followed, but not the princely states (which did not have votes for men either, being monarchies). [101] In Bengal province, the provincial assembly rejected it in 1921 but Southard shows an intense campaign produced victory in 1921. Success in Bengal depended on middle class Indian women, who emerged from a fast-growing urban elite. The women leaders in Bengal linked their crusade to a moderate nationalist agenda, by showing how they could participate more fully in nation-building by having voting power. They carefully avoided attacking traditional gender roles by arguing that traditions could coexist with political modernization. [103]

Whereas wealthy and educated women in Madras were granted voting right in 1921, in Punjab the Sikhs granted women equal voting rights in 1925 irrespective of their educational qualifications or being wealthy or poor. This happened when the Gurdwara Act of 1925 was approved. The original draft of the Gurdwara Act sent by the British to the Sharomani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) did not include Sikh women, but the Sikhs inserted the clause without the women having to ask for it. Equality of women with men is enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikh faith.

In the Government of India Act 1935 the British Raj set up a system of separate electorates and separate seats for women. Most women's leaders opposed segregated electorates and demanded adult franchise. In 1931 the Congress promised universal adult franchise when it came to power. It enacted equal voting rights for both men and women in 1947. [104]

Indonesia Edit

Indonesia granted women voting rights for municipal councils in 1905. Only men who could read and write could vote, which excluded many non-European males. At the time, the literacy rate for males was 11% and for females 2%. The main group that pressed for women's suffrage in Indonesia was the Dutch Vereeninging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht (VVV-Women's Suffrage Association), founded in the Netherlands in 1894. VVV tried to attract Indonesian members, but had very limited success because the leaders of the organization had little skill in relating to even the educated class of Indonesians. When they eventually did connect somewhat with women, they failed to sympathize with them and ended up alienating many well-educated Indonesians. In 1918 the first national representative body, the Volksraad, was formed which still excluded women from voting. In 1935, the colonial administration used its power of nomination to appoint a European woman to the Volksraad. In 1938, women gained the right to be elected to urban representative institutions, which led to some Indonesian and European women entering municipal councils. Eventually, only European women and municipal councils could vote, [ clarification needed ] excluding all other women and local councils. In September 1941, the Volksraad extended the vote to women of all races. Finally, in November 1941, the right to vote for municipal councils was granted to all women on a similar basis to men (subject to property and educational qualifications). [105]

Iran Edit

A referendum in January 1963 overwhelmingly approved by voters gave women the right to vote, a right previously denied to them under the Iranian Constitution of 1906 pursuant to Chapter 2, Article 3. [93]

Israel Edit

Women have had full suffrage since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

The first (and as of 2021, the only) woman to be elected Prime Minister of Israel was Golda Meir in 1969.

Japan Edit

Although women were allowed to vote in some prefectures in 1880, women's suffrage was enacted at a national level in 1945. [106]

Korea Edit

South Korean people, including South Korean women, were granted the vote in 1948. [107]

Kuwait Edit

When voting was first introduced in Kuwait in 1985, Kuwaiti women had the right to vote. [108] The right was later removed. In May 2005, the Kuwaiti parliament re-granted female suffrage. [109]

Lebanon Edit

Pakistan Edit

Pakistan was part of British Raj until 1947, when it became independent. Women received full suffrage in 1947. Muslim women leaders from all classes actively supported the Pakistan movement in the mid-1940s. Their movement was led by wives and other relatives of leading politicians. Women were sometimes organized into large-scale public demonstrations. In November 1988, Benazir Bhutto became the first Muslim woman to be elected as Prime Minister of a Muslim country. [110]

Philippines Edit

The Philippines was one of the first countries in Asia to grant women the right to vote. [111] Suffrage for Filipinas was achieved following an all-female, special plebiscite held on April 30, 1937. 447,725 – some ninety percent – voted in favour of women's suffrage against 44,307 who voted no. In compliance with the 1935 Constitution, the National Assembly passed a law which extended the right of suffrage to women, which remains to this day. [112] [111]

Saudi Arabia Edit

In late September 2011, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud declared that women would be able to vote and run for office starting in 2015. That applies to the municipal councils, which are the kingdom's only semi-elected bodies. Half of the seats on municipal councils are elective, and the councils have few powers. [113] The council elections have been held since 2005 (the first time they were held before that was the 1960s). [114] [115] Saudi women did first vote and first run for office in December 2015, for those councils. [116] Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi became the first elected female politician in Saudi Arabia in December 2015, when she won a seat on the council in Madrakah in Mecca province. [117] In all, the December 2015 election in Saudi Arabia resulted in twenty women being elected to municipal councils. [118]

The king declared in 2011 that women would be eligible to be appointed to the Shura Council, an unelected body that issues advisory opinions on national policy. [119] '"This is great news," said Saudi writer and women's rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider. "Women's voices will finally be heard. Now it is time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function, to live a normal life without male guardians."' Robert Lacey, author of two books about the kingdom, said, "This is the first positive, progressive speech out of the government since the Arab Spring. First the warnings, then the payments, now the beginnings of solid reform." The king made the announcement in a five-minute speech to the Shura Council. [114] In January 2013, King Abdullah issued two royal decrees, granting women thirty seats on the council, and stating that women must always hold at least a fifth of the seats on the council. [120] According to the decrees, the female council members must be "committed to Islamic Shariah disciplines without any violations" and be "restrained by the religious veil." [120] The decrees also said that the female council members would be entering the council building from special gates, sit in seats reserved for women and pray in special worshipping places. [120] Earlier, officials said that a screen would separate genders and an internal communications network would allow men and women to communicate. [120] Women first joined the council in 2013, occupying thirty seats. [121] [122] There are two Saudi royal women among these thirty female members of the assembly, Sara bint Faisal Al Saud and Moudi bint Khalid Al Saud. [123] Furthermore, in 2013 three women were named as deputy chairpersons of three committees: Thurayya Obeid was named deputy chairwoman of the human rights and petitions committee, Zainab Abu Talib, deputy chairwoman of the information and cultural committee, and Lubna Al Ansari, deputy chairwoman of the health affairs and environment committee. [121]

Sri Lanka Edit

In 1931 Sri Lanka (at that time Ceylon) became one of the first Asian countries to allow voting rights to women over the age of 21 without any restrictions. Since then, women have enjoyed a significant presence in the Sri Lankan political arena. The zenith of this favourable condition to women has been the 1960 July General Elections, in which Ceylon elected the world's first woman Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She is the world's first democratically elected female head of government. Her daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga also became the Prime Minister later in 1994, and the same year she was elected as the Executive president of Sri Lanka, making her the fourth woman in the world to be elected president, and the first female executive president.

Thailand Edit

The Ministry of Interior’s Local Administrative Act of May 1897 (Phraraachabanyat 1897 [BE 2440]) granted municipal suffrage in the election of village leader to all villagers “whose house or houseboat was located in that village,” and explicitly included women voters who met the qualifications. [124] This was a part of the far-reaching administrative reforms enacted by King Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1919), in his efforts to protect Thai sovereignty. [124]

In the new constitution introducted after the Siamese revolution of 1932, which transformed Siam from an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, women where granted the right to vote and run for office. [125] This reform was enacted without any prior activism in favor of women's suffrage and was followed by a number of reforms in women's rights, and it has been suggested that the reform was part of an effort by Pridi Bhanomyong to put Thailand on equal political terms with modern Western powers and establish diplomatic recognition by those as a modern nation. [125] The new right was used for the first time in 1933, and the first female MPs were elected in 1949.

Europe Edit

In Europe, the last countries to enact women's suffrage were Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In Switzerland, women gained the right to vote in federal elections in 1971 [126] but in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden women obtained the right to vote on local issues only in 1991, when the canton was forced to do so by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland. [127] In Liechtenstein, women were given the right to vote by the women's suffrage referendum of 1984. Three prior referendums held in 1968, 1971 and 1973 had failed to secure women's right to vote. [128]

Albania Edit

Albania introduced a limited and conditional form of women's suffrage in 1920, and full voting rights in 1945. [129]

Austria Edit

After the breakdown of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918 Austria granted the general, equal, direct and secret right to vote to all citizens, regardless of sex, through the change of the electoral code in December 1918. [47] The first elections in which women participated were the February 1919 Constituent Assembly elections. [130]

Azerbaijan Edit

Universal voting rights were recognized in Azerbaijan in 1918 by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. [49]

Belgium Edit

A revision of the constitution in October 1921 (it changed art. 47 of the Constitution of Belgium of 1831) introduced the general right to vote according to the "one man, one vote" principle. Art. 47 allowed widows of World War I to vote at the national level as well. [131] The introduction of women's suffrage was already put onto the agenda at the time, by means of including an article in the constitution that allowed approval of women's suffrage by special law (meaning it needed a 2/3 majority to pass). [132] This happened in March 1948. In Belgium, voting is compulsory.

Bulgaria Edit

Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule in 1878. Although the first adopted constitution, the Tarnovo Constitution (1879), gave women equal election rights, in fact women were not allowed to vote and to be elected. The Bulgarian Women's Union was an umbrella organization of the 27 local women's organisations that had been established in Bulgaria since 1878. It was founded as a reply to the limitations of women's education and access to university studies in the 1890s, with the goal to further women's intellectual development and participation, arranged national congresses and used Zhenski glas as its organ. However, they have limited success, and women were allowed to vote and to be elected only after when Communist rule was established.

Croatia Edit

Czechia Edit

In the former Bohemia, taxpaying women and women in "learned profession[s]" were allowed to vote by proxy and made eligible to the legislative body in 1864. [133] The first Czech female MP was elected to the Diet of Bohemia in 1912. The Declaration of Independence of the Czechoslovak Nation from October 18, 1918, declared that "our democracy shall rest on universal suffrage. Women shall be placed on equal footing with men, politically, socially, and culturally," and women were appointed to the Revolutionary National Assembly (parliament) on November 13, 1918. On June 15, 1919, women voted in local elections for the first time. Women were guaranteed equal voting rights by the constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic in February 1920 and were able to vote for the parliament for the first time in April 1920. [134]

Denmark Edit

In Denmark, the Danish Women's Society (DK) debated, and informally supported, women's suffrage from 1884, but it did not support it publicly until in 1887, when it supported the suggestion of the parliamentarian Fredrik Bajer to grant women municipal suffrage. [135] In 1886, in response to the perceived overcautious attitude of DK in the question of women suffrage, Matilde Bajer founded the Kvindelig Fremskridtsforening (or KF, 1886–1904) to deal exclusively with the right to suffrage, both in municipal and national elections, and it 1887, the Danish women publicly demanded the right for women's suffrage for the first time through the KF. However, as the KF was very much involved with worker's rights and pacifist activity, the question of women's suffrage was in fact not given full attention, which led to the establishment of the strictly women's suffrage movement Kvindevalgretsforeningen (1889–1897). [135] In 1890, the KF and the Kvindevalgretsforeningen united with five women's trade worker's unions to found the De samlede Kvindeforeninger, and through this form, an active women's suffrage campaign was arranged through agitation and demonstration. However, after having been met by compact resistance, the Danish suffrage movement almost discontinued with the dissolution of the De samlede Kvindeforeninger in 1893. [135]

In 1898, an umbrella organization, the Danske Kvindeforeningers Valgretsforbund or DKV was founded and became a part of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA). [135] In 1907, the Landsforbundet for Kvinders Valgret (LKV) was founded by Elna Munch, Johanne Rambusch and Marie Hjelmer in reply to what they considered to be the much too careful attitude of the Danish Women's Society. The LKV originated from a local suffrage association in Copenhagen, and like its rival DKV, it successfully organized other such local associations nationally. [135]

Women won the right to vote in municipal elections on April 20, 1908. However it was not until June 5, 1915 that they were allowed to vote in Rigsdag elections. [136]

Estonia Edit

Estonia gained its independence in 1918 with the Estonian War of Independence. However, the first official elections were held in 1917. These were the elections of temporary council (i.e. Maapäev), which ruled Estonia from 1917 to 1919. Since then, women have had the right to vote.

The parliament elections were held in 1920. After the elections, two women got into the parliament – history teacher Emma Asson and journalist Alma Ostra-Oinas. Estonian parliament is called Riigikogu and during the First Republic of Estonia it used to have 100 seats.

Finland Edit

The area that in 1809 became Finland was a group of integral provinces of the Kingdom of Sweden for over 600 years. Thus, women in Finland were allowed to vote during the Swedish Age of Liberty (1718–1772), during which conditional suffrage was granted to tax-paying female members of guilds. [137] However, this right was controversial. In Vaasa, there was opposition against women participating in the town hall discussing political issues, as this was not seen as their right place, and women's suffrage appears to have been opposed in practice in some parts of the realm: when Anna Elisabeth Baer and two other women petitioned to vote in Turku in 1771, they were not allowed to do so by town officials. [138]

The predecessor state of modern Finland, the Grand Duchy of Finland, was part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917 and enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. In 1863, taxpaying women were granted municipal suffrage in the countryside, and in 1872, the same reform was implemented in the cities. [133] In 1906, Finland became the first province in the world to implement racially-equal women's suffrage, unlike Australia in 1902. Finland also elected the world's first female members of parliament the following year. [5] [6] Miina Sillanpää became Finland's first female government minister in 1926. [139]

France Edit

The April 21, 1944 ordinance of the French Committee of National Liberation, confirmed in October 1944 by the French provisional government, extended the suffrage to French women. [140] [141] The first elections with female participation were the municipal elections of April 29, 1945 and the parliamentary elections of October 21, 1945. "Indigenous Muslim" women in French Algeria also known as Colonial Algeria, had to wait until a July 3, 1958 decree. [142] [143] Although several countries had started extending suffrage to women from the end of the 19th century, France was one of the last countries to do so in Europe. In fact, the Napoleonic Code declares the legal and political incapacity of women, which blocked attempts to give women political rights. [144] First feminist claims started emerging during the French Revolution in 1789. Condorcet expressed his support for women's right to vote in an article published in Journal de la Société de 1789, but his project failed. [145] After World War I, French women continued demanding political rights, and despite the Chamber of Deputies being in favor, the Senate continuously refused to analyze the law proposal. [145] Surprisingly, the political left, who were generally supportive of women's emancipation, repeatedly opposed the right to vote for women because they would support conservative positions. [144] It was only after World War II that women were granted political rights.

Georgia Edit

Upon its declaration of independence on May 26, 1918, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the Democratic Republic of Georgia extended suffrage to its female citizens. The women of Georgia first exercised their right to vote in the 1919 legislative election. [146]

Germany Edit

Women were granted the right to vote and be elected from November 12, 1918. The Weimar Constitution established a new "Germany" after the kids of World War 1 and extended the right to vote to all citizens above the age of 20. ( With some exceptions) [93]

Greece Edit

Greece had universal suffrage since its independence in 1832, but it excluded women. The first proposal to give Greek women the right to vote was made on May 19, 1922, by a member of parliament, supported by then Prime Minister Dimitrios Gounaris, during a constitutional convention. [147] The proposal garnered a narrow majority of those present when it was first proposed, but failed to get the broad 80% support needed to add it to the constitution. [147] In 1925 consultations began again, and a law was passed allowing women the right to vote in local elections, provided they were 30 years of age and had attended at least primary education. [147] The law remained unenforced, until feminist movements within the civil service lobbied the government to enforce it in December 1927 and March 1929. [147] Women were allowed to vote on a local level for the first time in the Thessaloniki local elections, on December 14, 1930, where 240 women exercised their right to do so. [147] Women's turnout remained low, at only around 15,000 in the national local elections of 1934, despite women being a narrow majority of the population of 6.8 million. [147] Women could not stand for election, despite a proposal made by Interior minister Ioannis Rallis, which was contested in the courts the courts ruled that the law only gave women "a limited franchise" and struck down any lists where women were listed as candidates for local councils. [147] Misogyny was rampant in that era Emmanuel Rhoides is quoted as having said that "two professions are fit for women: housewife and prostitute". [148]

On a national level women over 18 voted for the first time in April 1944 for the National Council, a legislative body set up by the National Liberation Front resistance movement. Ultimately, women won the legal right to vote and run for office on May 28, 1952. Eleni Skoura, again from Thessaloniki, became the first woman elected to the Hellenic Parliament in 1953, with the conservative Greek Rally, when she won a by-election against another female opponent. [149] Women were finally able to participate in the 1956 election, with two more women becoming members of parliament Lina Tsaldari, wife of former Prime Minister Panagis Tsaldaris, won the most votes of any candidate in the country and became the first female minister in Greece under the conservative National Radical Union government of Konstantinos Karamanlis. [149]

No woman has been elected Prime Minister of Greece, but Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou served as the country's first female Prime Minister, heading a caretaker government, between August 27 and September 21, 2015. The first woman to lead a major political party was Aleka Papariga, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece from 1991 to 2013.

Hungary Edit

In Hungary, although it was already planned in 1818, the first occasion when women could vote was the elections held in January 1920.

Ireland Edit

From 1918, with the rest of the United Kingdom, women in Ireland could vote at age 30 with property qualifications or in university constituencies, while men could vote at age 21 with no qualification. From separation in 1922, the Irish Free State gave equal voting rights to men and women. ["All citizens of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of twenty-one years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for members of Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the Referendum and Initiative."] [150] Promises of equal rights from the Proclamation were embraced in the Constitution in 1922, the year Irish women achieved full voting rights. However, over the next ten years, laws were introduced that eliminated women's rights from serving on juries, working after marriage, and working in industry. The 1937 Constitution and Taoiseach Éamon de Valera’s conservative leadership further stripped women of their previously granted rights. [151] As well, though the 1937 Constitution guarantees women the right to vote and to nationality and citizenship on an equal basis with men, it also contains a provision, Article 41.2, which states:

1° [. ] the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. 2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Isle of Man Edit

In 1881, The Isle of Man (in the British Isles but not part of the United Kingdom) passed a law giving the vote to single and widowed women who passed a property qualification. This was to vote in elections for the House of Keys, in the Island's parliament, Tynwald. This was extended to universal suffrage for men and women in 1919. [152]

Italy Edit

In Italy, women's suffrage was not introduced following World War I, but upheld by Socialist and Fascist activists and partly introduced on a local or municipal level by Benito Mussolini's government in 1925. [153] In April 1945, the provisional government led by the Italian Resistance decreed the universal enfranchisement of women in Italy, allowing for the immediate appointment of women to public office, of which the first was Elena Fischli Dreher. [154] In the 1946 election, all Italians simultaneously voted for the Constituent Assembly and for a referendum about keeping Italy a monarchy or creating a republic instead. Elections were not held in the Julian March and South Tyrol because they were under Allied occupation.

The new version of article 51 Constitution recognizes equal opportunities in electoral lists. [155]

Liechtenstein Edit

Luxemburg Edit

In Luxemburg, Marguerite Thomas-Clement spoke in favour of women suffrage in public debate through articles in the press in 1917–19 however, there was never any organized women suffrage movement in Luxemburg, as women suffrage was included without debate in the new democratic constitution of 1919. [157]

Netherlands Edit

Women were granted the right to vote in the Netherlands on August 9, 1919. [93] In 1917, a constitutional reform already allowed women to be electable. However, even though women's right to vote was approved in 1919, this only took effect from January 1, 1920.

The women's suffrage movement in the Netherlands was led by three women: Aletta Jacobs, Wilhelmina Drucker and Annette Versluys-Poelman. In 1889, Wilhelmina Drucker founded a women's movement called Vrije Vrouwen Vereeniging (Free Women's Union) and it was from this movement that the campaign for women's suffrage in the Netherlands emerged. This movement got a lot of support from other countries, especially from the women's suffrage movement in England. In 1906 the movement wrote an open letter to the Queen pleading for women's suffrage. When this letter was rejected, in spite of popular support, the movement organised several demonstrations and protests in favor of women's suffrage. This movement was of great significance for women's suffrage in the Netherlands. [158]

Norway Edit

Liberal politician Gina Krog was the leading campaigner for women's suffrage in Norway from the 1880s. She founded the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights and the National Association for Women's Suffrage to promote this cause. Members of these organisations were politically well-connected and well organised and in a few years gradually succeeded in obtaining equal rights for women. Middle-class women won the right to vote in municipal elections in 1901 and parliamentary elections in 1907. Universal suffrage for women in municipal elections was introduced in 1910, and in 1913 a motion on universal suffrage for women was adopted unanimously by the Norwegian parliament (Stortinget). [159] Norway thus became the first independent country to introduce women's suffrage. [160]

Poland Edit

Regaining independence in 1918 following the 123-year period of partition and foreign rule, [161] Poland immediately granted women the right to vote and be elected as of November 28, 1918. [93]

Portugal Edit

Carolina Beatriz Ângelo was the first Portuguese woman to vote, in the Constituent National Assembly election of 1911, [164] taking advantage of a loophole in the country's electoral law.

In 1931 during the Estado Novo regime, women were allowed to vote for the first time, but only if they had a high school or university degree, while men had only to be able to read and write. In 1946 a new electoral law enlarged the possibility of female vote, but still with some differences regarding men. A law from 1968 claimed to establish "equality of political rights for men and women", but a few electoral rights were reserved for men. After the Carnation Revolution, women were granted full and equal electoral rights in 1976. [70] [71]

Romania Edit

The timeline of granting women's suffrage in Romania was gradual and complex, due to the turbulent historical period when it happened. The concept of universal suffrage for all men was introduced in 1918, [165] and reinforced by the 1923 Constitution of Romania. Although this constitution opened the way for the possibility of women's suffrage too (Article 6), [166] this did not materialize: the Electoral Law of 1926 did not grant women the right to vote, maintaining all male suffrage. [167] Starting in 1929, women who met certain qualifications were allowed to vote in local elections. [167] After the Constitution from 1938 (elaborated under Carol II of Romania who sought to implement an authoritarian regime) the voting rights were extended to women for national elections by the Electoral Law 1939, [168] but both women and men had restrictions, and in practice these restrictions affected women more than men (the new restrictions on men also meant that men lost their previous universal suffrage). Although women could vote, they could be elected only to the Senate and not to the Chamber of Deputies (Article 4 (c)). [168] (the Senate was later abolished in 1940). Due to the historical context of the time, which included the dictatorship of Ion Antonescu, there were no elections in Romania between 1940 and 1946. In 1946, Law no. 560 gave full equal rights to men and women to vote and to be elected in the Chamber of Deputies and women voted in the 1946 Romanian general election. [169] The Constitution of 1948 gave women and men equal civil and political rights (Article 18). [170] Until the collapse of communism in 1989, all the candidates were chosen by the Romanian Communist Party, and civil rights were merely symbolic under this authoritarian regime. [171]

Russia Edit

Despite initial apprehension against enfranchising women for the right to vote for the upcoming Constituent Assembly election, the League for Women's Equality and other suffragists rallied throughout the year of 1917 for the right to vote. After much pressure (including a 40,000-strong march on the Tauride Palace), on July 20, 1917, the Provisional Government enfranchised women with the right to vote. [172]

San Marino Edit

San Marino introduced women's suffrage in 1959, [70] following the 1957 constitutional crisis known as Fatti di Rovereta. It was however only in 1973 that women obtained the right to stand for election. [70]

Spain Edit

During the Miguel Primo de Rivera [173] regime (1923–1930) only women who were considered heads of household were allowed to vote in local elections, but there were none at that time. Women's suffrage was officially adopted in 1931 despite the opposition of Margarita Nelken and Victoria Kent, two female MPs (both members of the Republican Radical-Socialist Party), who argued that women in Spain at that moment lacked social and political education enough to vote responsibly because they would be unduly influenced by Catholic priests. The other female MP at the time, Clara Campoamor of the liberal Radical Party, was a strong advocate of women's suffrage and she was the one leading the Parliament's affirmative vote. During the Franco regime in the "organic democracy" type of elections called "referendums" (Franco's regime was dictatorial) women over 21 were allowed to vote without distinction. [174] From 1976, during the Spanish transition to democracy women fully exercised the right to vote and be elected to office.

Sweden Edit

During the Age of Liberty (1718–1772), Sweden had conditional women's suffrage. [13] Until the reform of 1865, the local elections consisted of mayoral elections in the cities, and elections of parish vicars in the countryside parishes. The Sockenstämma was the local parish council who handled local affairs, in which the parish vicar presided and the local peasantry assembled and voted, an informally regulated process in which women are reported to have participated already in the 17th century. [175] The national elections consisted of the election of the representations to the Riksdag of the Estates.

Suffrage was gender neutral and therefore applied to women as well as men if they filled the qualifications of a voting citizen. [13] These qualifications were changed during the course of the 18th-century, as well as the local interpretation of the credentials, affecting the number of qualified voters: the qualifications also differed between cities and countryside, as well as local or national elections. [13]

Initially, the right to vote in local city elections (mayoral elections) was granted to every burgher, which was defined as a taxpaying citizen with a guild membership. [13] Women as well as men were members of guilds, which resulted in women's suffrage for a limited number of women. [13] In 1734, suffrage in both national and local elections, in cities as well as countryside, was granted to every property owning taxpaying citizen of legal majority. [13] This extended suffrage to all taxpaying property owning women whether guild members or not, but excluded married women and the majority of unmarried women, as married women were defined as legal minors, and unmarried women were minors unless they applied for legal majority by royal dispensation, while widowed and divorced women were of legal majority. [13] The 1734 reform increased the participation of women in elections from 55 to 71 percent. [13]

Between 1726 and 1742, women voted in 17 of 31 examined mayoral elections. [13] Reportedly, some women voters in mayoral elections preferred to appoint a male to vote for them by proxy in the city hall because they found it embarrassing to do so in person, which was cited as a reason to abolish women's suffrage by its opponents. [13] The custom to appoint to vote by proxy was however used also by males, and it was in fact common for men, who were absent or ill during elections, to appoint their wives to vote for them. [13] In Vaasa in Finland (then a Swedish province), there was opposition against women participating in the town hall discussing political issues as this was not seen as their right place, and women's suffrage appears to have been opposed in practice in some parts of the realm: when Anna Elisabeth Baer and two other women petitioned to vote in Åbo in 1771, they were not allowed to do so by town officials. [138]

In 1758, women were excluded from mayoral elections by a new regulation by which they could no longer be defined as burghers, but women's suffrage was kept in the national elections as well as the countryside parish elections. [13] Women participated in all of the eleven national elections held up until 1757. [13] In 1772, women's suffrage in national elections was abolished by demand from the burgher estate. Women's suffrage was first abolished for taxpaying unmarried women of legal majority, and then for widows. [13] However, the local interpretation of the prohibition of women's suffrage varied, and some cities continued to allow women to vote: in Kalmar, Växjö, Västervik, Simrishamn, Ystad, Åmål, Karlstad, Bergslagen, Dalarna and Norrland, women were allowed to continue to vote despite the 1772 ban, while in Lund, Uppsala, Skara, Åbo, Gothenburg and Marstrand, women were strictly barred from the vote after 1772. [13]

While women's suffrage was banned in the mayoral elections in 1758 and in the national elections in 1772, no such bar was ever introduced in the local elections in the countryside, where women therefore continued to vote in the local parish elections of vicars. [13] In a series of reforms in 1813–1817, unmarried women of legal majority, "Unmarried maiden, who has been declared of legal majority", were given the right to vote in the sockestämma (local parish council, the predecessor of the communal and city councils), and the kyrkoråd (local church councils). [176]

In 1823, a suggestion was raised by the mayor of Strängnäs to reintroduce women's suffrage for taxpaying women of legal majority (unmarried, divorced and widowed women) in the mayoral elections, and this right was reintroduced in 1858. [175]

In 1862, tax-paying women of legal majority (unmarried, divorced and widowed women) were again allowed to vote in municipal elections, making Sweden the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote. [133] This was after the introduction of a new political system, where a new local authority was introduced: the communal municipal council. The right to vote in municipal elections applied only to people of legal majority, which excluded married women, as they were juridically under the guardianship of their husbands. In 1884 the suggestion to grant women the right to vote in national elections was initially voted down in Parliament. [177] During the 1880s, the Married Woman's Property Rights Association had a campaign to encourage the female voters, qualified to vote in accordance with the 1862 law, to use their vote and increase the participation of women voters in the elections, but there was yet no public demand for women's suffrage among women. In 1888, the temperance activist Emilie Rathou became the first woman in Sweden to demand the right for women's suffrage in a public speech. [178] In 1899, a delegation from the Fredrika Bremer Association presented a suggestion of women's suffrage to prime minister Erik Gustaf Boström. The delegation was headed by Agda Montelius, accompanied by Gertrud Adelborg, who had written the demand. This was the first time the Swedish women's movement themselves had officially presented a demand for suffrage.

In 1902 the Swedish Society for Woman Suffrage was founded. In 1906 the suggestion of women's suffrage was voted down in parliament again. [179] In 1909, the right to vote in municipal elections were extended to also include married women. [180] The same year, women were granted eligibility for election to municipal councils, [180] and in the following 1910–11 municipal elections, forty women were elected to different municipal councils, [179] Gertrud Månsson being the first. In 1914 Emilia Broomé became the first woman in the legislative assembly. [181]

The right to vote in national elections was not returned to women until 1919, and was practised again in the election of 1921, for the first time in 150 years. [137]

After the 1921 election, the first women were elected to Swedish Parliament after women's suffrage were Kerstin Hesselgren in the Upper chamber and Nelly Thüring (Social Democrat), Agda Östlund (Social Democrat) Elisabeth Tamm (liberal) and Bertha Wellin (Conservative) in the Lower chamber. Karin Kock-Lindberg became the first female government minister, and in 1958, Ulla Lindström became the first acting Prime Minister. [182]

Switzerland Edit

A referendum on women's suffrage was held on February 1, 1959. The majority of Switzerland's men (67%) voted against it, but in some French-speaking cantons women obtained the vote. [183] The first Swiss woman to hold political office, Trudy Späth-Schweizer, was elected to the municipal government of Riehen in 1958. [184]

Switzerland was the last Western republic to grant women's suffrage they gained the right to vote in federal elections in 1971 after a second referendum that year. [183] In 1991 following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues. [127]

The first female member of the seven-member Swiss Federal Council, Elisabeth Kopp, served from 1984 to 1989. Ruth Dreifuss, the second female member, served from 1993 to 1999, and was the first female President of the Swiss Confederation for the year 1999. From September 22, 2010, until December 31, 2011, the highest political executive of the Swiss Confederation had a majority of female councillors (4 of 7) for the three years 2010, 2011, and 2012 Switzerland was presided by female presidency for three years in a row the latest one was for the year 2017. [185]

Turkey Edit

In Turkey, Atatürk, the founding president of the republic, led a secularist cultural and legal transformation supporting women's rights including voting and being elected. Women won the right to vote in municipal elections on March 20, 1930. Women's suffrage was achieved for parliamentary elections on December 5, 1934, through a constitutional amendment. Turkish women, who participated in parliamentary elections for the first time on February 8, 1935, obtained 18 seats.

In the early republic, when Atatürk ran a one-party state, his party picked all candidates. A small percentage of seats were set aside for women, so naturally those female candidates won. When multi-party elections began in the 1940s, the share of women in the legislature fell, and the 4% share of parliamentary seats gained in 1935 was not reached again until 1999. In the parliament of 2011, women hold about 9% of the seats. Nevertheless, Turkish women gained the right to vote a decade or more before women in such Western European countries as France, Italy, and Belgium – a mark of Atatürk's far-reaching social changes. [186]

United Kingdom Edit

The campaign for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland gained momentum throughout the early part of the 19th century, as women became increasingly politically active, particularly during the campaigns to reform suffrage in the United Kingdom. John Stuart Mill, elected to Parliament in 1865 and an open advocate of female suffrage (about to publish The Subjection of Women), campaigned for an amendment to the Reform Act 1832 to include female suffrage. [187] Roundly defeated in an all-male parliament under a Conservative government, the issue of women's suffrage came to the fore.

Until the 1832 Reform Act specified "male persons", a few women had been able to vote in parliamentary elections through property ownership, although this was rare. [188] In local government elections, women lost the right to vote under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Unmarried women ratepayers received the right to vote in the Municipal Franchise Act 1869. This right was confirmed in the Local Government Act 1894 and extended to include some married women. [189] [190] [191] [192] By 1900, more than 1 million women were registered to vote in local government elections in England. [189]

In 1881, the Isle of Man (in the British Isles but not part of the United Kingdom) passed a law giving the vote to single and widowed women who passed a property qualification. This was to vote in elections for the House of Keys, in the Island's parliament, Tynwald. This was extended to universal suffrage for men and women in 1919. [193]

During the later half of the 19th century, a number of campaign groups for women's suffrage in national elections were formed in an attempt to lobby members of parliament and gain support. In 1897, seventeen of these groups came together to form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), who held public meetings, wrote letters to politicians and published various texts. [194] In 1907 the NUWSS organized its first large procession. [194] This march became known as the Mud March as over 3,000 women trudged through the streets of London from Hyde Park to Exeter Hall to advocate women's suffrage. [195]

In 1903 a number of members of the NUWSS broke away and, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, formed the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). [196] As the national media lost interest in the suffrage campaign, the WSPU decided it would use other methods to create publicity. This began in 1905 at a meeting in Manchester's Free Trade Hall where Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, a member of the newly elected Liberal government, was speaking. [197] As he was talking, Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney of the WSPU constantly shouted out, "Will the Liberal Government give votes to women?" [197] When they refused to cease calling out, police were called to evict them and the two suffragettes (as members of the WSPU became known after this incident) were involved in a struggle which ended with them being arrested and charged for assault. [198] When they refused to pay their fine, they were sent to prison for one week, and three days. [197] The British public were shocked and took notice at this use of violence to win the vote for women.

After this media success, the WSPU's tactics became increasingly violent. This included an attempt in 1908 to storm the House of Commons, the arson of David Lloyd George's country home (despite his support for women's suffrage). In 1909 Lady Constance Lytton was imprisoned, but immediately released when her identity was discovered, so in 1910 she disguised herself as a working class seamstress called Jane Warton and endured inhumane treatment which included force-feeding. In 1913, suffragette Emily Davison protested by interfering with a horse owned by King George V during the running of The Derby she was struck by the a horse and died four days later. The WSPU ceased their militant activities during World War I and agreed to assist with the war effort. [199]

The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, which had always employed "constitutional" methods, continued to lobby during the war years, and compromises were worked out between the NUWSS and the coalition government. [200] The Speaker's Conference on electoral reform (1917) represented all the parties in both houses, and came to the conclusion that women's suffrage was essential. Regarding fears that women would suddenly move from zero to a majority of the electorate due to the heavy loss of men during the war, the Conference recommended that the age restriction be 21 for men, and 30 for women. [201] [202] [203]

On February 6, 1918, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. About 8.4 million women gained the vote in Great Britain and Ireland. [204] In November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into Parliament. The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 extended the franchise in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to all women over the age of 21, granting women the vote on the same terms as men. [205]

In 1999, Time magazine, in naming Emmeline Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, states: ". she shaped an idea of women for our time she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back". [206]

Oceania Edit

Australia, Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands Edit

The female descendants of the Bounty mutineers who lived on Pitcairn Islands could vote from 1838, and this right transferred with their resettlement to Norfolk Island (now an Australian external territory) in 1856. [17]

Propertied women in the colony of South Australia were granted the vote in local elections (but not parliamentary elections) in 1861. Henrietta Dugdale formed the first Australian women's suffrage society in Melbourne in 1884. The Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales was founded in Sydney in 1891. Women became eligible to vote for the Parliament of South Australia in 1895, as were Aboriginal men and women. [12] In 1897, Catherine Helen Spence became the first female political candidate for political office, unsuccessfully standing for election as a delegate to Federal Convention on Australian Federation. Western Australia granted voting rights to women in 1899. [25]

The first election for the Parliament of the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 was based on the electoral provisions of the six pre-existing colonies, so that women who had the vote and the right to stand for Parliament at state level had the same rights for the 1901 Australian Federal election. In 1902 the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act, which enabled all non-indigenous women to vote and stand for election to the Federal Parliament. The following year Nellie Martel, Mary Moore-Bentley, Vida Goldstein, and Selina Siggins stood for election. [25] The Act specifically excluded 'natives' from Commonwealth franchise unless already enrolled in a state, the situation in South Australia. In 1949, the right to vote in federal elections was extended to all indigenous people who had served in the armed forces, or were enrolled to vote in state elections (Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory still excluded indigenous women from voting rights). Remaining restrictions were abolished in 1962 by the Commonwealth Electoral Act. [207]

Edith Cowan was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in 1921, the first woman elected to any Australian Parliament. Dame Enid Lyons, in the Australian House of Representatives and Senator Dorothy Tangney became the first women in the Federal Parliament in 1943. Lyons went on to be the first woman to hold a Cabinet post in the 1949 ministry of Robert Menzies. Rosemary Follett was elected Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory in 1989, becoming the first woman elected to lead a state or territory. By 2010, the people of Australia's oldest city, Sydney had female leaders occupying every major political office above them, with Clover Moore as Lord Mayor, Kristina Keneally as Premier of New South Wales, Marie Bashir as Governor of New South Wales, Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, Quentin Bryce as Governor-General of Australia and Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia.

Cook Islands Edit

Women in Rarotonga won the right to vote in 1893, shortly after New Zealand. [208]

New Zealand Edit

New Zealand's Electoral Act of September 19, 1893 made this country the first in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. [17]

Although the Liberal government which passed the bill generally advocated social and political reform, the electoral bill was only passed because of a combination of personality issues and political accident. The bill granted the vote to women of all races. New Zealand women were denied the right to stand for parliament, however, until 1920. In 2005 almost a third of the Members of Parliament elected were female. Women recently have also occupied powerful and symbolic offices such as those of Prime Minister (Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark and current PM Jacinda Ardern), Governor-General (Catherine Tizard and Silvia Cartwright), Chief Justice (Sian Elias), Speaker of the House of Representatives (Margaret Wilson), and from March 3, 2005, to August 23, 2006, all four of these posts were held by women, along with Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.

The Americas Edit

Women in Central and South America, and in Mexico, lagged behind those in Canada and the United States in gaining the vote. Ecuador enfranchised women in 1929 and the last was Paraguay in 1961. [209] By date of full suffrage:

  • 1929: Ecuador
  • 1932: Uruguay
  • 1934: Brazil, Cuba
  • 1939: El Salvador
  • 1941: Panama
  • 1946: Guatemala, Venezuela
  • 1947: Argentina
  • 1948: Suriname
  • 1949: Chile, Costa Rica
  • 1950: Haiti
  • 1952: Bolivia
  • 1953: Mexico
  • 1954: Belize, Colombia
  • 1955: Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru,
  • 1961: Paraguay [210]

There were political, religious, and cultural debates about women's suffrage in the various countries. [211] Important advocates for women's suffrage include Hermila Galindo (Mexico), Eva Perón (Argentina), Alicia Moreau de Justo (Argentina), Julieta Lanteri (Argentina), Celina Guimarães Viana (Brazil), Ivone Guimarães (Brazil), Henrietta Müller (Chile), Marta Vergara (Chile), Lucila Rubio de Laverde (Colombia), María Currea Manrique (Colombia), Josefa Toledo de Aguerri (Nicaragua), Elida Campodónico (Panama), Clara González (Panama), Gumercinda Páez (Panama), Paulina Luisi Janicki (Uruguay), Carmen Clemente Travieso, (Venezuela).

Argentina Edit

The modern suffragist movement in Argentina arose partly in conjunction with the activities of the Socialist Party and anarchists of the early twentieth century. Women involved in larger movements for social justice began to agitate equal rights and opportunities on par with men following the example of their European peers, Elvira Dellepiane Rawson, Cecilia Grierson and Alicia Moreau de Justo began to form a number of groups in defense of the civil rights of women between 1900 and 1910. The first major victories for extending the civil rights of women occurred in the Province of San Juan. Women had been allowed to vote in that province since 1862, but only in municipal elections. A similar right was extended in the province of Santa Fe where a constitution that ensured women's suffrage was enacted at the municipal level, although female participation in votes initially remained low. In 1927, San Juan sanctioned its Constitution and broadly recognized the equal rights of men and women. However, the 1930 coup overthrew these advances.

A great pioneer of women's suffrage was Julieta Lanteri, the daughter of Italian immigrants, who in 1910 requested a national court to grant her the right to citizenship (at the time not generally given to single female immigrants) as well as suffrage. The Claros judge upheld her request and declared: "As a judge, I have a duty to declare that her right to citizenship is enshrined in the Constitution, and therefore that women enjoy the same political rights as the laws grant to male citizens, with the only restrictions expressly determined such laws, because no inhabitant is deprived of what they do not prohibit."

In July 1911, Dr. Lanteri were enumerated, and on November 26 of that year exercised her right to vote, the first Ibero-American woman to vote. Also covered in a judgment in 1919 was presented as a candidate for national deputy for the Independent Centre Party, obtaining 1,730 votes out of 154,302.

In 1919, Rogelio Araya UCR Argentina had gone down in history for being the first to submit a bill recognizing the right to vote for women, an essential component of universal suffrage. On July 17, 1919, he served as deputy national on behalf of the people of Santa Fe.

On February 27, 1946, three days after the elections that consecrated president Juan Perón and his wife First Lady Eva Perón 26 years of age gave his first political speech in an organized women to thank them for their support of Perón's candidacy. On that occasion, Eva demanded equal rights for men and women and particularly, women's suffrage:

The woman Argentina has exceeded the period of civil tutorials. Women must assert their action, women should vote. The woman, moral spring home, you should take the place in the complex social machinery of the people. He asks a necessity new organize more extended and remodeled groups. It requires, in short, the transformation of the concept of woman who sacrificially has increased the number of its duties without seeking the minimum of their rights.

The bill was presented the new constitutional government assumed immediately after the May 1, 1946. The opposition of conservative bias was evident, not only the opposition parties but even within parties who supported Peronism. Eva Perón constantly pressured the parliament for approval, even causing protests from the latter for this intrusion.

Although it was a brief text in three articles, that practically could not give rise to discussions, the Senate recently gave preliminary approval to the project August 21, 1946, and had to wait over a year for the House of Representative to publish the September 9, 1947, Law 13,010, establishing equal political rights between men and women and universal suffrage in Argentina. Finally, Law 13,010 was approved unanimously.

In an official statement on national television, Eva Perón announced the extension of suffrage to Argentina's women:

Women of this country, this very instant I receive from the Government the law that enshrines our civic rights. And I receive it in front of you, with the confidence that I do so on behalf and in the name of all Argentinian women. I do so joyously, as I feel my hands tremble upon contact with victory proclaiming laurels. Here it is, my sisters, summarized into few articles of compact letters lies a long history of battles, stumbles, and hope.

Because of this, in it there lie exasperating indignation, shadows of menacing sunsets, but also cheerful awakenings of triumphal auroras. And the latter which translates the victory of women over the incomprehensions, the denials, and the interests created by the castes now repudiated by our national awakening.

And a leader who destiny forged to victoriously face the problems of our era, General [Perón]. With him, and our vote we shall contribute to the perfection of Argentina's democracy, my dear comrades.

On September 23, 1947, they enacted the Female Enrollment Act (No. 13,010) during the first presidency of Juan Domingo Perón, which was implemented in the elections of November 11, 1951, in which 3,816,654 women voted (63.9% voted for the Justicialist Party and 30.8% for the Radical Civic Union). Later in 1952, the first 23 senators and deputies took their seats, representing the Justicialist Party.

Bolivia Edit

In Bolivia, the first women's organization in the country, the Atene Femenino, was active for the introduction of women's suffrage from the 1920s. [212]

Municipal women's suffrage and granted in 1947, and full suffrage in 1952.

Brazil Edit

In Brazil, the issue was lifted foremost by the organization Federação Brasileira pelo Progresso Feminino from 1922. The struggle for women's suffrage was part of a larger movement to gain rights for women. [213] Most of the suffragists consisted of a minority of women from the educated elite, which made the activism appear less threathening to the political male elite.

The law of Rio Grande do Norte State allowed women to vote in 1926. [214]

Women were granted the right to vote and be elected in Electoral Code of 1932, followed by Brazilian Constitution of 1934.

Canada Edit

Women's political status without the vote was promoted by the National Council of Women of Canada from 1894 to 1918. It promoted a vision of "transcendent citizenship" for women. The ballot was not needed, for citizenship was to be exercised through personal influence and moral suasion, through the election of men with strong moral character, and through raising public-spirited sons. The National Council position was integrated into its nation-building program that sought to uphold Canada as a white settler nation. While the women's suffrage movement was important for extending the political rights of white women, it was also authorized through race-based arguments that linked white women's enfranchisement to the need to protect the nation from "racial degeneration." [215]

Women had local votes in some provinces, as in Ontario from 1850, where women owning property (freeholders and householders) could vote for school trustees. [216] By 1900 other provinces had adopted similar provisions, and in 1916 Manitoba took the lead in extending women's suffrage. [217] Simultaneously suffragists gave strong support to the Prohibition movement, especially in Ontario and the Western provinces. [218] [219]

The Wartime Elections Act of 1917 gave the vote to British women who were war widows or had sons, husbands, fathers, or brothers serving overseas. Unionist Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden pledged himself during the 1917 campaign to equal suffrage for women. After his landslide victory, he introduced a bill in 1918 for extending the franchise to women. On May 24, 1918, women considered citizens (not Aboriginal women, or most women of colour) became eligible to vote who were "age 21 or older, not alien-born and meet property requirements in provinces where they exist". [217]

Most women of Quebec gained full suffrage in 1940. [217] Aboriginal women across Canada were not given federal voting rights until 1960. [220]

The first woman elected to Parliament was Agnes Macphail in Ontario in 1921. [221]

Chile Edit

Debate about women's suffrage in Chile began in the 1920s. [222] Women's suffrage in municipal elections was first established in 1931 by decree (decreto con fuerza de ley) voting age for women was set at 25 years. [223] [224] In addition, the Chamber of Deputies approved a law on March 9, 1933, establishing women's suffrage in municipal elections. [223]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1949. [222] Women's share among voters increased steadily after 1949, reaching the same levels of participation as men in 1970. [222]

Costa Rica Edit

The campaign for women's suffrage in begun in the 1910s, and the campaigns were active during all electoral reforms in 1913, 1913, 1925, 1927 and 1946, notably by the Feminist League (1923), which was a part of the International League of Iberian and Hispanic-American Women, who had a continuing campaign between 1925 and 1945. [225]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1949. [225]

Cuba Edit

The campaign for women's suffrage begun in the 1920s, when Cuban elite feminists started to collaborate and campaign for women's issues they arranged congresses in 1923, 1925 and 1939, and managed to achieve a reformed property rights law (1917) a no-fault divorce law (1918), and finally women's suffrage in 1934. [225]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1934. [225]

Ecuador Edit

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1929. [226] This was the first time in South America.

El Salvador Edit

Between June 1921 and January 1922, when El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica formed a (second) Federation of Central America, the Constitution of this state included women's suffrage on 9 September 1921, but the reform could never be implemented because the Federation (and thereby its constitution) did not last. [225]

The campaign for women's suffrage begun in the 1920s, notably by the leading figure Prudencia Ayala. [225]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1939. [225] However, the qualifications was so extreme that 80 percent of women voters were in fact excluded, and the suffrage movement therefore continued its campaign in the 1940s, notably by Matilde Elena López and Ana Rosa Ochoa, until the restrictions was lifted in 1950. [225]

Guatemala Edit

Between June 1921 and January 1922, when El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica formed a (second) Federation of Central America, the Constitution of this state included women's suffrage on 9 September 1921, but the reform could never be implemented because the Federation (and thereby its constitution) did not last. [225]

The campaign for women's suffrage in begun in the 1920s, notably by the organisations Gabriela Mistral Society (1925) and Graciela Quan's Guatemalan Feminine Pro-Citizenship Union (1945).

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1945 (without restrictions in 1965). [225]

Haiti Edit

The campaign for women's suffrage in Haiti begun after the foundation of Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale (LFAS) in 1934.

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections on 4 November 1950. [227]

Honduras Edit

Between June 1921 and January 1922, when El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica formed a (second) Federation of Central America, the Constitution of this state included women's suffrage on 9 September 1921, but the reform could never be implemented because the Federation (and thereby its constitution) did not last. [225]

The campaign for women's suffrage begun in the 1920s, notably by the leading figure Visitación Padilla, who was the leader of the biggest women's organisation. [225]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1955. [225]

Mexico Edit

Women gained the right to vote in 1947 for some local elections and for national elections in 1953, coming after a struggle dating to the nineteenth century. [228]

Panama Edit

The campaign for women's suffrage begun after the foundation of Federation of Women's Club of the Canal in 1903, which became a part of the General Federation of Clubs in New York, which made the suffrage movement in Panama heavily influenced by the suffrage movement in the United States. [225] In 1922 The Feminist Group Renovation (FGR) was founded by Clara Gonzalez, which became the first Feminist Political women's party inLatin America when it was transformed to the Feminist National Party in 1923. [225]

Women obtained the legal right to vote in communal elections in 1941, and in parliamentary and presidential elections 1946. [225]

United States Edit

Before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, some individual U.S. states granted women suffrage in certain kinds of elections. Some allowed women to vote in school elections, municipal elections, and for members of the Electoral College. Some territories, like Washington, Utah, and Wyoming, allowed women to vote before they became states. [229]

The New Jersey constitution of 1776 enfranchised all adult inhabitants who owned a specified amount of property. Laws enacted in 1790 and 1797 referred to voters as "he or she", and women regularly voted. A law passed in 1807, however, excluded women from voting in that state. [230]

Lydia Taft was an early forerunner in Colonial America who was allowed to vote in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. [231] The women's suffrage movement was closely tied to abolitionism, with many suffrage activists gaining their first experience as anti-slavery activists. [232]

In June 1848, Gerrit Smith made women's suffrage a plank in the Liberty Party platform. In July, at the Seneca Falls Convention in upstate New York, activists including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began a seventy-year struggle by women to secure the right to vote. Attendees signed a document known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, of which Stanton was the primary author. Equal rights became the rallying cry of the early movement for women's rights, and equal rights meant claiming access to all the prevailing definitions of freedom. In 1850 Lucy Stone organized a larger assembly with a wider focus, the National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Susan B. Anthony, a resident of Rochester, New York, joined the cause in 1852 after reading Stone's 1850 speech. Stanton, Stone and Anthony were the three leading figures of this movement in the U.S. during the 19th century: the "triumvirate" of the drive to gain voting rights for women. [233] Women's suffrage activists pointed out that black people had been granted the franchise and had not been included in the language of the United States Constitution's Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments (which gave people equal protection under the law and the right to vote regardless of their race, respectively). This, they contended, had been unjust. Early victories were won in the territories of Wyoming (1869) [234] and Utah (1870).

John Allen Campbell, the first Governor of the Wyoming Territory, approved the first law in United States history explicitly granting women the right to vote. The law was approved on December 10, 1869. This day was later commemorated as Wyoming Day. [235] On February 12, 1870, the Secretary of the Territory and Acting Governor of the Territory of Utah, S. A. Mann, approved a law allowing twenty-one-year-old women to vote in any election in Utah. [236]

Utah women were disenfranchised by provisions of the federal Edmunds–Tucker Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1887.

The push to grant Utah women's suffrage was at least partially fueled by the belief that, given the right to vote, Utah women would dispose of polygamy. It was only after Utah women exercised their suffrage rights in favor of polygamy that the U.S. Congress disenfranchised Utah women. [237]

By the end of the 19th century, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming had enfranchised women after effort by the suffrage associations at the state level Colorado notably enfranchised women by an 1893 referendum. California voted to enfranchise women in 1911. [238]

During the beginning of the 20th century, as women's suffrage faced several important federal votes, a portion of the suffrage movement known as the National Woman's Party led by suffragist Alice Paul became the first "cause" to picket outside the White House. Paul had been mentored by Emmeline Pankhurst while in England, and both she and Lucy Burns led a series of protests against the Wilson Administration in Washington. [239]

Wilson ignored the protests for six months, but on June 20, 1917, as a Russian delegation drove up to the White House, suffragists unfurled a banner which stated: "We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement". [240] Another banner on August 14, 1917, referred to "Kaiser Wilson" and compared the plight of the German people with that of American women. With this manner of protest, the women were subject to arrests and many were jailed. [241] Another ongoing tactic of the National Woman's Party was watchfires, which involved burning copies of President Wilson's speeches, often outside the White House or in the nearby Lafayette Park. The Party continued to hold watchfires even as the war began, drawing criticism from the public and even other suffrage groups for being unpatriotic. [242] On October 17, Alice Paul was sentenced to seven months and on October 30 began a hunger strike, but after a few days prison authorities began to force feed her. [240] After years of opposition, Wilson changed his position in 1918 to advocate women's suffrage as a war measure. [243]

The key vote came on June 4, 1919, [245] when the Senate approved the amendment by 56 to 25 after four hours of debate, during which Democratic Senators opposed to the amendment filibustered to prevent a roll call until their absent Senators could be protected by pairs. The Ayes included 36 (82%) Republicans and 20 (54%) Democrats. The Nays comprised 8 (18%) Republicans and 17 (46%) Democrats. The Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited state or federal sex-based restrictions on voting, was ratified by sufficient states in 1920. [246] According to the article, "Nineteenth Amendment", by Leslie Goldstein from the Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States, "by the end it also included jail sentences, and hunger strikes in jail accompanied by brutal force feedings mob violence and legislative votes so close that partisans were carried in on stretchers" (Goldstein, 2008). Even after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, women were still facing problems. For instance, when women had registered to vote in Maryland, "residents sued to have the women's names removed from the registry on the grounds that the amendment itself was unconstitutional" (Goldstein, 2008).

Before 1965, women of color, such as African Americans and Native Americans, were disenfranchised, especially in the South. [247] [248] The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination in voting, and secured voting rights for racial minorities throughout the U.S. [247]

Venezuela Edit

After the 1928 Student Protests, women started participating more actively in politics. In 1935, women's rights supporters founded the Feminine Cultural Group (known as 'ACF' from its initials in Spanish), with the goal of tackling women's problems. The group supported women's political and social rights, and believed it was necessary to involve and inform women about these issues to ensure their personal development. It went on to give seminars, as well as founding night schools and the House of Laboring Women.

Groups looking to reform the 1936 Civil Code of Conduct in conjunction with the Venezuelan representation to the Union of American Women called the First Feminine Venezuelan Congress in 1940. In this congress, delegates discussed the situation of women in Venezuela and their demands. Key goals were women's suffrage and a reform to the Civil Code of Conduct. Around twelve thousand signatures were collected and handed to the Venezuelan Congress, which reformed the Civil Code of Conduct in 1942.

In 1944, groups supporting women's suffrage, the most important being Feminine Action, organized around the country. During 1945, women attained the right to vote at a municipal level. This was followed by a stronger call of action. Feminine Action began editing a newspaper called the Correo Cívico Femenino, to connect, inform and orientate Venezuelan women in their struggle. Finally, after the 1945 Venezuelan coup d'état and the call for a new Constitution, to which women were elected, women's suffrage became a constitutional right in the country.

The right of women to vote has sometimes been denied in non-religious organizations for example, it was not until 1964 that women in the National Association of the Deaf in the United States were first allowed to vote. [249]

Catholicism Edit

The Pope is elected by cardinals. [250] Women are not appointed as cardinals, and therefore women cannot vote for the Pope. [251]

The female Catholic office of Abbess is elective, the choice being made by the secret votes of nuns belonging to the community. [252] The high rank ascribed to abbesses within the Catholic Church formerly permitted some abbesses the right to sit and vote at national assemblies – as with various high-ranking abbesses in Medieval Germany, who were ranked among the independent princes of the empire. Their Protestant successors enjoyed the same privilege almost into modern times. [253]

On 6 February 2021, Pope Francis appointed Nathalie Becquart an undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, [254] making her the first woman to have the right to vote in the Synod of Bishops. [255]

Islam Edit

In some countries, some mosques have constitutions prohibiting women from voting in board elections. [256]

Judaism Edit

In Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, and most Orthodox Jewish movements women have the right to vote. Since the 1970s, more and more Modern Orthodox synagogues and religious organizations have been granting women the rights to vote and to be elected to their governing bodies. In a few Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities women are denied the vote or the ability to be elected to positions of authority. [257] [258] [259]

A century after women’s suffrage, the fight for equality isn’t over

Women struggled for decades to win the right to vote, but it’s taken even longer for all to be able to exercise it.

“Well I have been & gone & done it!!” Susan B. Anthony wrote to a friend on November 5, 1872.

That day Anthony and her three sisters managed to vote in Rochester, New York. Nearly a century after the nation’s founding, seven years after the end of the Civil War, and two years after the 15th Amendment granted voting rights to African-American men, it was still illegal for most women to vote. Anthony and her sisters had been sure they would be denied. Indeed, that’s what they had hoped would happen. They wanted grounds for a lawsuit.

But Anthony, a well-known and intimidating figure, couldn’t help herself. A few days earlier, she had browbeaten the young officials who were registering voters at a local barbershop into putting the women’s names on the voting rolls. When that proved an unexpected success, she spread the word.

On Election Day, some 15 women in Rochester voted. “We are in for a fine agitation in Rochester,” wrote Anthony to her friend and fellow campaigner Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Although she hadn’t expected to vote, she knew her defiant act would have ramifications.

Two weeks later, the opportunity she’d been aiming for arrived on her doorstep in the form of a well-mannered federal officer. He was there to arrest her.

By that point women had been campaigning to get the vote for decades. They’d begun to question their subordinate role in society, rallied to improve women’s rights within marriage, and called for universal suffrage. They’d ventured beyond the domestic sphere of their homes and neighborhoods, into spaces where no “respectable” women would go, and had spoken in public before mixed crowds, which no respectable women would do. They’d inserted themselves into a political process that made no room for them. They’d insisted on what they believed were their rights as citizens. They’d elevated women’s voting rights to an issue that national politicians could no longer ignore.

And yet, they still had a very long road to travel—a nearly half century–long campaign to press their cause across the country. The 19th Amendment, which decreed that no citizen could be denied the right to vote based on sex, became law on August 26, 1920—a tremendous accomplishment. Some 27 million women became eligible to vote, the largest increase in potential voters in American history. But the victory was incomplete: Because of restrictive state and federal laws such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and ethnic barriers to citizenship, many nonwhite women—African Americans, Native Americans, Latinas, and Asian Americans—still didn’t have access to the ballot. Nor did many nonwhite men, despite the 15th Amendment.

It’s easy to consign the suffragists to the past—to imagine them as severe Susan B. Anthony and fussy Elizabeth Cady Stanton, stiffly posing in a black-and-white portrait or as long-skirted women brandishing quaint banners, demonstrating for something we take for granted. After all, more women now vote than men, nearly 10 million more in the 2016 presidential election. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is one of the most powerful people in the country. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for president in 2016, and six women competed to be the Democratic nominee in 2020.

But the past is still with us. My grandmothers were born into a world in which they couldn’t vote. A girl born in the United States today arrives in a country that a woman has never led. Nearly 51 percent of the population is female, but far fewer women hold elected office than men. Efforts to limit who can vote persist. Clinton lost to a man known for sexist behavior, and none of those female presidential candidates made it to the top of the ticket. The campaign for political equality that began in the 19th century shows no sign of being over in the 21st.

The push for women’s suffrage began in 1848 in part because Stanton, a socially active woman from a prosperous and prominent family, was chafing at her circumscribed life. Stanton had moved from Boston to the small town of Seneca Falls, New York, for the health of her husband, Henry, an abolitionist who began leaving her alone with their three sons as he traveled the state agitating against slavery. As much as she loved her children—she would end up having seven—Stanton found the limitations on what women were able to achieve maddening.

“I suffered with mental hunger,” she later wrote.

When Lucretia Mott, a noted Quaker abolitionist, came to the area for a visit, Stanton welcomed the chance to see her. The two had met several years earlier at an antislavery convention in London. Over tea with Mott and a few friends, Stanton “poured out the torrent of my long-accumulating discontent,” she wrote, “with such vehemence and indignation that I stirred myself, as well as the rest of the party, to do and dare anything.”

What they dared to do was organize their own convention, the first to be held on women’s rights in the U.S. They did it quickly, in little more than 10 days, because Mott, the most experienced activist of any of them, would be leaving soon.

The women drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments” to be presented to the convention for approval. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, the document decried men’s “absolute tyranny” over women, citing grievances that reflected the very limited rights women had in the United States then.

Married women, for example, were “civilly dead” because they did not have legal rights separate from their husbands’, nor could they own property or even keep the wages they’d earned themselves. Colleges were closed to women so were professions. Man, the declaration stated, “has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy [woman’s] confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”

Appended to the declaration were resolutions that claimed equality for women on many fronts, but Stanton realized that without political power, these positions just amounted to wishful thinking. What women needed was the vote. She added this resolution: “That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.”

Several hundred people attended the two-day meeting. Roughly a hundred signed the declaration, but many balked at the resolution advocating suffrage. Mott feared that pursuing the vote would “make us ridiculous.” Politics were considered excessively corrupt for women and perhaps, for some, a step too far out of the domestic domain.

But Frederick Douglass, who had fled slavery and founded the North Star antislavery newspaper in nearby Rochester, spoke in support of it. As he wrote in his account of the convention, he believed “if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise.”

The resolution passed, and the campaign for American women’s right to vote had begun.

Eighteen years later, in 1866, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a poet and novelist, took the stage at the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City. The Civil War was over, the Union had won, and now the burning question was how emancipated people would be incorporated into the reunited country. Women wondered whether that solution would include them.

At the meeting, Harper spoke of the injustices she’d experienced as a woman, telling the crowd that when her husband died suddenly, all their property had been taken away from her. She also recounted the wrongs she’d suffered as an African American.

The listeners, most of them white women, gasped when Harper described the brutality she had experienced while traveling by streetcar and train. She impressed upon her audience that for her and many like her, their rights as women and their rights as African Americans could not be disentangled—and that the two causes must be aligned.

“We are all bound up together,” Harper said, “in one great bundle of humanity.”

And, for a time, they were. The seeds for women’s suffrage first grew among the abolitionists, with people such as Mott, Stanton, Douglass, and Sojourner Truth active in both causes. They were united in their wish to be treated as full citizens of the United States. But after the Civil War, the groups fractured over whose rights came first.

What the suffragists wanted was universal suffrage. “No country ever has had or ever will have peace until every citizen has a voice in the government,” Stanton declared. But many states were reluctant to cede their authority over who could vote. So the 14th and 15th Amendments, two of the amendments addressing African-American rights, were drafted to prohibit states from denying the franchise to eligible voters, who were explicitly defined for the first time as male.

Stanton and Anthony refused to support the 15th Amendment because it removed race but not sex as a barrier to voting. Turning away from longtime friends and allies such as Frederick Douglass, Stanton decried granting the franchise to “Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung” rather than to “women of wealth and education,” whom everyone understood to be native-born whites.

Not all white suffragists took that route. Some saw an opportunity in the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” That included recently freed slaves. Arguing that citizenship should include the right to vote, hundreds of women, along with Anthony, showed up at the polls in the early 1870s, with uneven results. After her arrest for voting in Rochester, Anthony hoped to take her case to the Supreme Court, but a technicality squashed that plan.

Of all the attempts to exercise the franchise, Virginia Minor’s bid to register to vote in St. Louis proved to be the most significant. When she was denied, the Missouri suffrage leader sued the election official in charge—or rather, her husband sued him because, as a woman, she did not have the legal right to do so. Her case, Minor v. Happersett, made it to the Supreme Court, where the Minors argued that the state of Missouri had violated the 14th Amendment by abridging her privileges as a citizen, which included the right to vote.

The outcome was devastating. The court ruled that “the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone.”

If suffragists’ interpretation of the amendment had been accepted by the Supreme Court, says historian Ellen Carol DuBois, author of Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, “we ourselves would not be in the situation where states are constantly depriving people of the right to vote, what we call voter suppression.” If Minor had won, it would have set a strong precedent for universal suffrage.

In 1913, Ida B. Wells, a journalist and civil rights leader in Chicago, refused to be shunted to the sidelines. Woodrow Wilson had just been elected president, and Alice Paul, a young militant, organized a large suffragist parade in Washington, D.C., on the day before his inauguration.

Paul, who would go on to lead the National Woman’s Party, was intent on launching a nationwide campaign. In a strategic move with far-reaching consequences, she and other white voting rights activists opted to cultivate the support of southern white women—and to diminish the role of Black women.

Wells had faced off against lynch mobs in Tennessee and founded the first African-American women’s suffrage group in Chicago. She was one of the strongest voices for women’s suffrage in Illinois. But when she arrived in Washington for the parade, she was told she would not be marching with the Illinois delegation. Instead, she could bring up the rear of the procession with other Black women. She refused.

“If the Illinois women do not take a stand now in this great democratic parade, then the colored women are lost,” she declared. Her voice trembled with emotion and her face was set in lines of grim determination, according to newspaper reports. “I shall not march at all unless I can march under the Illinois banner.”

When the parade began, Wells wasn’t in it. But midway through, she walked out of the crowd and assumed her place among the Illinois women. No one dared remove her. When Illinois opened the vote to women later that year, she led a registration drive among African Americans that eventually helped elect the first Black alderman in Chicago.

Suffrage and Power: The Women’s Movement 1918 - 1928

When she was interviewed by Dale Spender in 1983 for a book about early twentieth century feminists, the veteran activist Mary Stott was probed in detail about her life. Spender was particularly interested in how she filled her time in the years between the end of the First World War and the 1960s when the emergence of a discernible feminist consciousness and a tangible women’s movement were visible. ‘What,’ Stott was asked, ‘did you do during the time when there was no women’s movement’ to take up her time and energy. Stott considered this briefly before responding with the furious assertion that provided the title for Spender’s book. ‘What do you mean. There’s always been a women’s movement this century.’(1)

Despite this, the years before 1918 still provide the subject for much British women’s history. Suffrage continues to fascinate, and the recent reinterpretations of the British campaigns by June Purvis and Sandra Holton amongst others ensure that it remains in the public eye. Meanwhile beyond the realms of academic history the public thirst for knowledge of all aspects of the First World War shows little signs of abating as the war itself recedes into the previous century. Popular literature may have moved on a war, replacing Birdsong with Charlotte Grey, but it is still largely the armistice of 1918 which is commemorated in newspapers, television broadcasts and radio features each November. The eagerness with which family historians access the Commonwealth War Graves website and the public support for Lord Faulkner’s campaign against Belgian plans to reroute the A19 through the Ypres salient witness the hold that the events of 1914 - 18 retain on our collective national consciousness. Women’s historians too frequently return to the First World War. Whilst their conception of what constitutes a revision of ‘war history’ may differ from the combatant focus of military historians, their contributions to First World War historiography have been numerous. The ‘Home Front’ has been the focus of work by scholars including Deborah Thom and Angela Woollacott who have attempted to deduce the extent to which the enfranchisement of some British women in 1918 can be seen as a reward for their war work. Other historians such as Jo Vellacott and Ann Wiltsher have concentrated on the discernible wave of feminist pacifism which emerged in response to what it conceptualised as a masculine conflict. Their work identifies groups of women who drew on pre-war discourses of difference feminism to argue particular claims for women as arbitrators and peacemakers. Against this, women’s patriotism and their work in uniformed organisations has been reclaimed in a plethora of recent work including that of Susan Grayzel.

What each of these works hold in common is an acceptance that the chronology of the First World War and its preceding decade also represents a significant period in women’s history. The years following the war have received much less attention. So, although the actual participants of a post-First World War feminism such as Stott were adamant that they were involved in a discernible movement after 1918, its historical evaluation is sparse. Law’s book is therefore most welcome in its acknowledgement that the 1920s is a significant period in the history of British feminism. Rather than offering an ending to pre-war campaigns in which ‘only a rump. limped into the post-war period,’ [p. 1] she sees the 1920s as ‘a time when women were engaged in the transformative stage from wielding influence to exercising power.’ [p. 9]. How they achieved this power, and what they actually did must be a key question to anyone with an interest in earlier or later campaigns as it represents both the culmination of earlier parliamentary ambitions and also the beginning of a more complex relationship between feminist politics and a political establishment in which women were no longer legally forced to remain on the margins of power and influence.

It is disappointing that with a crucial and virtually uncharted era at the centre of her narrative, Law appears to have found difficulty in breaking free of the earlier period. A proportion of the book remains concerned with explaining the responses of the British women’s movement to the First World War and exploring the war’s effect on feminism. This is most obvious in the second chapter, ‘Setting the Scene.’ Here, the complex relationships of a range of suffrage organisations are considered, and Law reminds us that amongst the grass roots membership there was anything but universal compliance with the decision of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst (who led one of over fifty suffrage societies in 1914, albeit one of the three largest) that the demand for the vote should cease for the duration of the war, and women’s efforts be redirected towards support for the endeavours of the British Expeditionary Force. Whilst a reassessment of feminist responses to the outbreak of war, especially one which recognises both their plurality and their diversity is in itself long overdue, a single chapter is possibly not the best forum for this. Events and responses to them are necessarily broadly sketched and important nuances can be missed. Law recognises this when she says that her ‘broad categorisation’ of responses into ‘those who worked for peace those who "kept the suffrage flag flying" and those who supported the war effort through welfare and industrial work’ fails to reflect the ‘multiple involvement’ of many participants. [p. 14]. Organising the chapter around precisely these responses means it runs the risk of falling into exactly those approaches which it explicitly seeks to redress, concentrating again on the war at the expense of its aftermath.

The war period also hangs over the third chapter devoted to ‘Survival and Progress.’ Here Law tackles (amongst others) the key theme of exactly what the organisations which had campaigned for the vote for anything up to twenty years proposed to do with it now it had been partially achieved. She identifies this period as laying the foundation for much of the next decade’s work. She draws out the complex realignments of individuals and organisations as the franchise receded in importance. Her narrative shows how many of the other preoccupations of those who had primarily identified themselves as pro-suffrage were allowed to come to the fore. Yet the book finds it difficult to move on from the enormity of the war years, and returns continually to pre-armistice debates and decisions in order to explain things. It is not really until chapter four that Law finally breaks free of the shadow of the war in her investigation of women’s demobilisation and even here there are references to earlier events such as the 1915 National Conference on War Service for Women and the 1916 statement of the Standing Joint Committee of Industrial Women’s Organisations.

A large proportion of the remaining two thirds of the book focuses on or around Parliament, either implicitly through examining legislation or explicitly in investigations of women’s electoral campaigns and work as MPs. Given the status that the parliamentary vote held in the pre-war women’s movement, when the term ‘suffrage movement’ had come to be used as a short-hand for many types of feminism, this is not surprising. Since the final decade of the nineteenth century feminists from a variety of political traditions had come to see the vote as an essential precursor to any further woman-centred social reform. Now that partial enfranchisement was achieved there was a tremendous pressure on the women’s movement to ensure that the vote would deliver all that had been claimed for it. The most obvious problem that women faced concerned the actual mechanics of getting into parliament. Law describes in detail some of the many difficulties which candidates encountered. Implicit in all the accounts is an unresolved tension in the relationship between feminism and party politics. An attempt to form a ‘Women’s Party’ by the few feminists remaining in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) proved an electoral disaster. Some women attempted to secure election as independent candidates but found themselves thwarted by a combination of conservatism (with a small c) within an electorate who would not give up party candidates and the impossibility of combating the full weight of party electoral machines. Law offers evidence for the attempts of some feminist organisations to appeal to a gendered (rather than a party-political) electorate, which largely failed. Against this, many feminists moved into (or in some cases returned to) party politics. Yet here too Law demonstrates how they faced opposition. Her descriptions have a depressingly familiar ring for those familiar with party selection procedures or the debates around them in the early twenty-first century. For a variety of reasons, often unspecified, women found it almost impossible to be selected for safe or winnable seats. The covert reasons, (Law cites Eleanor Rathbone’s explanation that women were unable to ‘cultivate. the "come and have a drink"’ attitudes essential to winning support within constituency parties) had a more sinister outcome. One ex-candidate feared that the continuing trend to place women in impossible contests was that ‘it would tend to establish the legend that women never get in.’ [p. 150]. Although Law offers one example of a woman who was selected on grounds of sex, she is not named and appears to be an exception. [p. 157]. The overall impression conveyed is of a quite depressing scene of almost insurmountable difficulties.

Law also demonstrates that candidates who were selected could find their problems beginning. Their ‘political baptism of fire’ involved them being flung into a maelstrom of press and public attention. Although she does not dwell too much on this aspect of campaigning, it is clear that women’s dress, deportment and conduct were of far greater interest to the electorate (or at least the reporting media) than their policies. All aspects of their lives appear to have been fair game, with Ray Strachey being forced to issue a leaflet assuring voters that her children were ‘not neglected.’ [p. 152]. Not surprisingly candidate numbers remained small and successes few. The 1918 election saw only one success in Constance Markievicz who, as a Sinn Fein member, refused to take her seat. Law sees a ‘cruel irony’ in this given the hopes that feminists had had for the vote. [p. 120]. It was not until 1919 that Nancy Astor was elected for the Conservatives at a by-election, to be joined by Margaret Wintringham who came to represent the Liberal Party by the same route. Interestingly, although Law does not dwell on this, both these elections offer an ironic counterpoint to the pre-voting arguments of the anti-suffrage movement that women were adequately represented by their husbands, a married couple being one in the eyes of the law. Both Astor and Wintringham took over their husbands seats, Astor when her husband took the family title and seat in the Lords and Wintringham as a widow. This familial relationship with the selection process was not one predicted by the suffrage movement.

Law’s discussion of Astor’s election also demonstrates the remarkable pragmatism of the post-war women’s movement. The redoubtable Ray Strachey, a leading figure in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and its successor the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (NUSEC ) who’s personal politics were of a more radical persuasion was nevertheless quick to offer her services to Astor as a parliamentary secretary. Presumably she acted on the assumption that even a Tory woman in parliament was better than no woman at all. Her confidence proved well-founded, however, and Astor, although not formally allied with feminist organisations before the election, proved a tireless worker on behalf of many women’s causes in Parliament.

Through her discussion of Astor, Law reminds us of just how bitter the path trodden by early women MPs could be. Whilst the press fixated on her clothing, Astor found her position lonely with many men refusing to communicate with her or even acknowledge her presence in the House. This and her feminism appear to have facilitated the close working relationship she established first with Mrs Wintringham then later with labour women MPs such as Ellen Wilkinson with whom she campaigned on women’ issues across party lines. This is an aspect of the work of early women MPs which could have been more thoroughly investigated in the text. The small numbers of women elected made it impossible for them to achieve anything collectively within their parties. In 1922 only Astor and Wintringham were returned, despite the efforts of the women’s movement in 33 constituencies. Consequentially women remained largely in the position they had been in before the vote, relying on sympathetic men to support their campaigns in parliament (although women voters did at least make male MPs more accountable in theory). Brian Harrison revealed that Astor was attempting to break through the boundaries of party politics in her work, quoting her desire for ‘women MPs to see themselves as women first and party members second.’(2) Whether she succeeded in this, or whether it was in any way supported by other party women remains opaque.

As well as an understandable concern with candidatures and elections, Law offers some interpretations of how a partially enfranchised women’s movement used the legislative process to achieve its aim that the vote would become a key instigator of feminist change. Clear connections are described between the concerns of post-war activists and the pre-war feminist movement. In some instances the issues which emerged could not have been predicted. It was arguably impossible in 1914 to guess that one of the earliest legislative victories for enfranchised women would be concerned with state attitudes towards prostitution, but Law singles out the campaign waged by the Association of Moral and Social Hygiene (AMSH) as the ‘first protest’ to succeed. [p. 68]. She also demonstrates how feminists were quick to ascribe this success (which involved a u-turn by military authorities on their policy of British soldiers’ visits to "tolerated brothels" in France) to their newly enfranchised status, quoting from the International Women’s Suffrage News of April 1918. ‘Josephine Butler has to work 17 years for the abolition of regulation in garrison and seaport towns. Now that women have votes, things move more quickly.’ [p. 96]. Although enthusiastic in her chronicling of victories, Law is cautious in not over-estimating them, and her text is continually mindful of the difficulties women encountered when pressing for reforms. Changes such as those demanded to ensure equal legal rights for mothers alongside those of fathers and attempts to guarantee maintenance to illegitimate children failed despite strong feminist pressure. Both demonstrated a concern for the welfare of mothers and children of the type cited by pre-war feminists as typical of the problems a woman’s vote would solve, yet ultimately fell to parliamentary filibustering. As if this were not enough, Law reminds us that in many instances feminist were running to keep still, attempting to consolidate gains which were now put under threat. She uses a discussion of attitudes towards women’s police to exemplify this, outlining how their status remained in question due to their classification as an ‘experiment’ which would be stopped if deemed to fail, although ‘failure’ was never defined. [p. 104]. The patrol’s successes in many areas of policing, especially those dealing with women and children made it difficult to attack them working within any definition of failure. Law then explains how the significant hostile elements within the police establishment attempted another approach, classifying women’s patrols as being engaged in welfare work rather than policing. This opened the way for the 1922 Geddes Report to recommend their disbanding on economic grounds. Although an energetic feminist campaign saved the Patrols, it did little to advance feminist organisations, as the episode serves to remind the reader that in many cases energies were diverted from new campaigns into supporting earlier victories. Retrenchment was thus partially forced on the movement despite its attempts to move beyond its earlier work.

Amidst an understandable focus on parliament and legislation, Law’s text also reminds us that the campaign for the vote continued long beyond 1918. Overstretched feminist resources were also directed into working for equal enfranchisement. Law sketches out the smaller legal changes which resulted in women’s age-based franchise looking increasingly anomalous when they could actually become MPs at 21 but not vote until 30. (p. 209). Pressure grew within and without parliament, culminating in a large procession in 1926 which Law is careful to present as not simply a revival of pre-war tactics but also as evidence of ‘the extraordinary network which women’s movement had created in less then 60 years’ featuring ex-militant and constitutional suffragettes and suffragists, newer bodies such as the Six Point Group and occupational organisations including the National Union of Women Teachers. This procession combined with the removal of sexual inequality in many legal fields and the sustained attempts of enfranchised women left no doubt of the strength of support for a totally equal franchise. Law is cautious in her attribution of success to purely public displays. She explains the predicament that many women were in under the 1918 act. The enfranchisement of some and electoral success of others left those who sought a return to militancy in a difficult position as they would, strictly speaking have been reacting against themselves or at least against a feminised establishment. Nevertheless the text offers a tantalising glimpse of what might have been had the 1928 Act been withheld. The Young Suffragists, a group formed in 1926 to represent the disenfranchised under-30s are described in action. They ‘delivered a petition to the Prime Minister’s house..followed up with a break in at Buckingham Palace in an attempt to present a letter to the King.’ [p. 217]. Sadly no more details of their activities (or reactions to them) are provided, but the episode demonstrates that a plurality of approaches continued to permeate post-war feminism.

Laws narrative ranges over a wealth of campaigns and a somewhat bewildering number of organisations (the list at the back is most helpful) to offer a strong contradiction to the notion that the 1920s are a less interesting period in the history of British feminism. It is unfortunate that the text does find it difficult to remain confined within the 1920s, but displays a tendency to dwell on the slightly earlier war-years. Although some brief element of background explanation is undoubtedly useful, one has to be ruthless in these days of constrictive word-lengths. More detail could have been afforded to certain aspects of the 1920s campaigns had the earlier period been omitted. There might also have been room to extend the analysis beyond the understandable parliamentary/legislative focus to say something about grass toots campaigns. At present these are largely missing from the narrative, with only a brief mention of the Women’s Citizens Associations which incorrectly identifies them as a post-war phenomenon and affords little space to a consideration of how their attempts to educate women into a sense of citizenship were received in different parts of the country [p. 51]. Having said this, however, Law has still provided us with perhaps the fullest exploration of post-1918 British feminism to date. The detail she does include, especially on parliament and legislative campaigning, will be welcomed, and serve as a timely reminder that feminism did not stop in 1918 to be reactivated in the 1960s. This may not be a description of the whole women’s movement of the twentieth century, but it certainly reclaims the 1920s from accusations that it was a time without a women’s movement.

The Woman's Vote in National Elections

Fifty eight million American citizens will be eligible to qualify under the election laws of the states and vote in the presidential election of 1928. Of this number of potential voters, 28,500,000, or about 49 per cent, are women.

In presidential elections since the nation-wide enfranchisement of women in 1920, net more than 35 to 40 per cent of the women eligible have gone to the polls. The National League of Women Voters, in a recent address to the President, admitted “the truth of the popular belief that in non-voting women are the worst offenders.” However, it is recognized by national politicians, notwithstanding the poor record made by the woman voters, that in any presidential election which presented issues by which they were thoroughly aroused—and were aligned on one side in predominant numbers, while the men were fairly evenly divided—the result would be determined by the woman's vote.

Seven years ago, in the presidential campaign which immediately followed the adoption of the nineteenth amendment, the woman's vote was regarded as a leading political problem, and the parties keenly competed for the support of the new voters. Politicians reported, however, upon their return to Washington and the state capitals after the election, that the enfranchisement of women, aside from increasing the size of the electorate, had shown no effects of which the parties need take serious account.

100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

Texas unanimously adopted the 19th Amendment much earlier than expected. Conservative Southern Democrats ran the state at the time, but a close gubernatorial election, a secret quid pro quo and a fight between the impeached governor of Texas and the state&rsquos flagship university gave suffragists a unique political opportunity to win the vote on June 28, 1919.

Texas was the first Southern state and ninth in the Union to do so.

&ldquoUniversity Future Threatened.&rdquo

&ldquoUniversity life may be discontinued next year as far as you are concerned,&rdquo read a University Co-op advertisement in the March 28, 1917, issue of The Daily Texan. &ldquoThere may not be any more varsity basketball games, tennis games, track meets, boats on the river or even college chums &mdash FOR YOU. Your school days will be only a memory.&rdquo

The Co-op&rsquos advertisement was a reaction to then-Gov. James Ferguson, who vetoed all of UT&rsquos funding in retaliation to the University president and Board of Regents&rsquo refusal to fire a handful of faculty members he disliked.

Then, in May, 2,000 angry students, alumni and professors marched from campus to the governor&rsquos office in protest. They chanted, played &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas,&rdquo and carried signs reading &ldquoUniversity&rsquos future threatened&rdquo and &ldquoWe oppose one man rule,&rdquo according to a historian&rsquos account in the 2010 issue of The Alcalde.

&ldquoUT has a lot of alumni, and they&rsquore in powerful places within the state, and there&rsquos a lot of them, and they were all very angry,&rdquo said Rachel Gunter, Collin College history professor and expert on the Texas women&rsquos suffrage movement.

Students and alumni were not the only ones displeased with Ferguson&rsquos conduct. The State House impeached him, and the Senate convicted him of nine charges, including obstruction of the war effort due to the University of Texas&rsquo involvement with research during World War I. Lawmakers were going to remove him from office, making him ineligible to run again, but Ferguson resigned before they could, which allowed him to run again in 1918.

Despite angering many people, Ferguson was still very popular, Gunter said, so the Senate needed another way to ensure he didn&rsquot return to the governor&rsquos desk.

Meanwhile, Minnie Fisher Cunningham&rsquos bill for women&rsquos suffrage in election primaries failed to pass the Legislature. As president of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association, Cunningham saw Ferguson&rsquos impeachment and reelection campaign as a second chance.

So, Cunningham cut a deal with State Rep. Charles Metcalfe. If he could get acting Gov. William Hobby to sign the bill, she would get women to vote against Ferguson. Since Texas was a one-party state, primary elections
controlled who won the governor&rsquos office.

&ldquoShe&rsquos amazing at political strategy,&rdquo Gunter said. &ldquoIt&rsquos basically a quid pro quo deal, but she doesn&rsquot say she was involved. She&rsquos very happy to let the Legislature say it was their idea because it will be easier to deal with them later.&rdquo

Gunter said the 386,000 women who registered to vote in those two weeks before the election were crucial in Ferguson&rsquos defeat. Two years later, when the 19th Amendment was on the Senate floor, Texas legislators decided voting in favor of full suffrage was better than being voted out of office later on.

&ldquoIf you vote against ratification, would it not follow that those women are going to kick you out of office?&rdquo Gunter said. &ldquoSo, because they already have to answer to them, it makes a massive difference.&rdquo

The Aftermath

In the decades that followed the 19th Amendment&rsquos ratification, there were still great strides to be made when it came to women&rsquos rights and voting rights.

&ldquoNothing is ever completely happy and rosy,&rdquo said Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, radio-television-film professor and media historian. She&rsquos currently working on a documentary film about women&rsquos suffrage in Texas directed by fellow radio-television-film professor Nancy Schiesari.

Poll taxes, racial barriers and citizenship requirements kept women of color, poor citizens and immigrants from exercising their rights. The suffrage movement was not as progressive on these issues,
Fuller-Seeley said.

&ldquoMost of the white women were willing to push African Americans and Latinos out of the picture to get what they wanted for
themselves,&rdquo Fuller-Seeley said.

Though minorities were not allowed to be involved in the movement, their role was at least considered when developing
political strategy.

&ldquo(The women&rsquos suffrage movement) was one of the first great movements to pay attention to everybody&rsquos rights,&rdquo Fuller-Seeley said. &ldquoYou can&rsquot take it for granted.&rdquo

Fuller-Seeley calls women&rsquos suffrage the &ldquogreat mother movement.&rdquo It gave birth to the shift that changed how women can participate in democracy, and therefore society. It also laid the groundwork for other movements, most specifically the civil rights movement that happened in the later half of the century.

Minnie Fisher Cunningham&rsquos organization became the Texas League of Women Voters in 1919. Throughout the 20th century, the league fought for women&rsquos issues that continued after the right to vote was won, such as property rights and female representation in juries.

&ldquoThe energy it took to get women &mdash at the time white women &mdash the right to vote was incredible,&rdquo said Grace Chimene, president of the Texas League of Women Voters. &ldquoWe continued that fight through the years. Were we perfect every step of the way? No, but boy did it take energy, and we persevered, and we continued on fighting all the way to try to get it so that more and more Texans and citizens
can vote.&rdquo

The league still exists today, giving out nonpartisan voting information and fighting for issues their members care about. Within the past two years, the league gained eight more chapters. Chimene said this is evidence that Americans still need to exercise the rights they won all those years ago.

&ldquoThere&rsquos a great new interest in civic (life),&rdquo Chimene said. &ldquoThere&rsquos a huge interest in providing voter education and getting out to vote and registering voters &hellip It&rsquos just such a great time to do this because everyone was so complacent before, and now we&rsquore just having a huge upturn in people who want to participate in
our democracy.&rdquo

Watch the video: Bad Romance Womens Suffrage (May 2022).