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Women's suffrage

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Women's suffrage

U.S. women suffragists demonstrating for the right to vote, February 1913.

Women's suffrage (also known as woman suffrage or woman's right to vote)[1] is the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1904), and also worked for equal civil rights for women.[3]

In 1881 the [6]

The first European country to introduce women's suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland, then part of the Russian Empire, which elected the world's first female members of parliament in the 1907 parliamentary elections. Norway followed, granting full women's suffrage in 1913. Most European, Asian and African countries did not pass women's suffrage until after World War I.

Late adopters in Europe were France in 1944, Italy in 1946, Greece in 1952,[7] San Marino in 1959, Monaco in 1962,[8] Andorra in 1970,[9] Switzerland in 1971,[10] and Liechtenstein in 1984.[11] In addition, although women in Portugal obtained suffrage in 1931, this was with stronger restrictions than those of men; full gender equality in voting was only granted in 1976.[8][12]

Canada, the United States and a few Latin American nations passed women's suffrage before World War II while the vast majority of Latin American nations established women's suffrage in the 1940s (see table in Summary below). The last Latin American country to give women the right to vote was Paraguay in 1961.[13][14]

Extended political campaigns by women and their supporters have generally been necessary to gain legislation or constitutional amendments for women's suffrage. In many countries, limited suffrage for women was granted before universal suffrage for men; for instance, literate women were granted suffrage before all men received it. The United Nations encouraged women's suffrage in the years following World War II, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) identifies it as a basic right with 188 countries currently being parties to this Convention.


  • History 1
  • Suffrage movements 2
  • References 3
  • Summary 4
  • By country 5
    • Africa 5.1
      • Sierra Leone 5.1.1
      • South Africa 5.1.2
      • Southern Rhodesia 5.1.3
    • Asia 5.2
      • Bangladesh 5.2.1
      • India 5.2.2
      • Indonesia 5.2.3
      • Iran 5.2.4
      • Israel 5.2.5
      • Japan 5.2.6
      • Kuwait 5.2.7
      • Pakistan 5.2.8
      • Philippines 5.2.9
      • Saudi Arabia 5.2.10
      • Sri Lanka 5.2.11
      • Turkey 5.2.12
    • Europe 5.3
      • Austria 5.3.1
      • Belgium 5.3.2
      • Czech Republic 5.3.3
      • Denmark 5.3.4
      • Estonia 5.3.5
      • Finland 5.3.6
      • France 5.3.7
      • Germany 5.3.8
      • Greece 5.3.9
      • Italy 5.3.10
      • Liechtenstein 5.3.11
      • Netherlands 5.3.12
      • Norway 5.3.13
      • Poland 5.3.14
      • Portugal 5.3.15
      • Romania 5.3.16
      • Russia 5.3.17
      • San Marino 5.3.18
      • Spain 5.3.19
      • Sweden 5.3.20
      • Switzerland 5.3.21
      • United Kingdom 5.3.22
    • North America 5.4
      • Canada 5.4.1
      • Mexico 5.4.2
      • United States 5.4.3
    • Oceania 5.5
      • Australia 5.5.1
      • Cook Islands 5.5.2
      • New Zealand 5.5.3
    • South America 5.6
      • Argentina 5.6.1
      • Brazil 5.6.2
      • Chile 5.6.3
      • Venezuela 5.6.4
  • Women's suffrage in non-religious organizations 6
  • Women's suffrage in religions 7
    • Catholicism 7.1
    • Hinduism 7.2
    • Islam 7.3
    • Judaism 7.4
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Anna II, Abbess of Quedlinburg. In the pre-modern era in some parts of Europe, abbesses were permitted to participate and vote in various European national assemblies by virtue of their rank within the Catholic and Protestant churches.

In young Athenian democracy, often cited as the birthplace of democracy, only men 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.[15]

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."[16] The Iroquois, like many First Nations peoples in North America, 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.

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 manhood and women's suffrage was introduced in 1840; however, a constitutional amendment in 1852 rescinded female voting and put property qualifications on male voting.

South Australian suffragette Catherine Helen Spence stood for office in 1897. In a first for the modern world, South Australia granted women the right to stand for Parliament in 1895.
Woman Suffrage Headquarters, Cleveland, 1913

In Sweden, conditional women's suffrage was in effect during the Age of Liberty (1718–1771).[17] Other possible contenders for first "country" to grant female suffrage include the Corsican Republic (1755), the Pitcairn Islands (1838), the Isle of Man (1881), and Franceville (1889), 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.[18] In a New England town meeting in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, she voted on at least three occasions.[19] Unmarried women who owned property could vote in New Jersey from 1776 to 1807.

Eighteen female MPs joined the Turkish Parliament in 1935

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.[20]

The female descendants of the [6]

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 United States of America 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 United States. 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 Workingwomen'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.[21]

In the United States, some of the territories or newer states were the first to extend suffrage to women. For instance, women in the Wyoming Territory could vote as of 1869.

In 1881 the [6]

The Pacific colony of Franceville, declaring independence in 1889, became the first self-governing nation to adopt universal suffrage without distinction of sex or color.[22]

Of currently existing independent countries, New Zealand was the first to acknowledge women's right to vote in 1893 when it was a self-governing British colony.[23] Unrestricted women's suffrage in terms of voting rights (women were not initially permitted to stand for election) was adopted in New Zealand in 1893. Following a successful movement led by Kate Sheppard, the women's suffrage bill was adopted weeks before the general election of that year. The women of the British protectorate of Cook Islands obtained the same right soon after and beat New Zealand's women to the polls in 1893.[24]

The self-governing British colony of South Australia enacted universal suffrage in 1894, also allowing women to stand for the colonial parliament that year.[25] The Commonwealth of Australia federated in 1901, with women voting and standing for office in some states. The Australian Federal Parliament extended voting rights to all adult women for Federal elections from 1902 (with the exception of Aboriginal women in some states).[26]

The first European country to introduce women's suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1906. It was among reforms passed following the 1905 uprising. As a result of the 1907 parliamentary elections, Finland's voters elected 19 women as the first female members of a representative parliament; they took their seats later that year.

In the years before World War I, women in Norway (1913) also won the right to vote, as did women in the remaining Australian states. Denmark granted women's suffrage in 1915. Near the end of the war, Canada, Russia, Germany, and Poland also recognized women's right to vote. Propertied British women over 30 had the vote in 1918, Dutch women in 1919, and American women won the vote on 26 August 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. 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 persons 21 years old and older. Suffrage of Turkish women introduced in 1930 for local elections and in 1934 for national elections.

French women gained suffrage in July 1944 by order of Charles de Gaulle's government in exile (at that time most of France—including Paris—was under Nazi occupation; Paris was liberated the following month).

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).[27]

Suffrage movements

After selling her home, British activist Emmeline Pankhurst travelled constantly, giving speeches throughout Britain and the United States. One of her most famous speeches, Freedom or death, was delivered in Connecticut in 1913.

The suffrage movement was a broad one, encompassing 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.[28] One major division, especially in Britain, was between

  • Photo Essay on Women's Suffrage by the International Museum of Women
  • Suffrage in Canada
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union: Women's Suffrage
  • CIA Yearbook: Suffrage
  • Press release with respect to Qatar and Yemen
  • UNCG Special Collections and University Archives selections of American Suffragette manuscripts
  • Photographs of U.S. suffragettes, marches, and demonstrations
  • Ada James papers and correspondence (1915–1918)—a digital collection presented by the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center.
  • Women in Congress—Information about women who have served in the U.S. Congress including historical essays that cover suffrage.
  • Culture Victoria—historical images and videos for the Centenary of Women's Suffrage
  • Woman suffragist, Mary Ellen Ewing vs the Houston School Board—Collection at the University of Houston Digital Library.
  • Gayle Olson-Raymer, "The Early Women's Movement", 17-page teaching guide for high school students, Zinn Education Project/Rethinking Schools
  • Women's Suffrage and Equal Rights in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library

External links

  • DuBois, Ellen Carol. Harriot Stanton Blatch and the Winning of Woman Suffrage (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997) ISBN 0-300-06562-0
  • Flexner, Eleanor, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, enlarged edition with Foreword by Ellen Fitzpatrick (1959, 1975; Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1996) ISBN 0-674-10653-9
  • Kenney, Annie, Memories of a Militant (London: Edwin Arnold, 1924)
  • Lloyd, Trevor, Suffragettes International: The Worldwide Campaign for Women's Rights (New York: American Heritage Press, 1971).
  • Lowry, D. (1997) 'White woman's' country: Ethel Tawse Jollie and the Making of White Rhodesia, Journal of Southern African Studies, 23(2), pp. 259–281.
  • Markoff, John. "Margins, Centers, and Democracy: The Paradigmatic History of Women's Suffrage," Signs (2003) 29#1 pp. 85–116 in JSTOR
  • Mackenzie, Midge, Shoulder to Shoulder: A Documentary (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975). ISBN 0-394-73070-4
  • Raeburn, Antonia. Militant Suffragettes (London: New English Library, 1973)
  • Ramirez, Francisco O., Yasemin Soysal, and Suzanne Shanahan. "The Changing Logic of Political Citizenship: Cross-National Acquisition of Women's Suffrage Rights, 1890 to 1990", American Sociological Review (1997) 62#5 pp 735–45. in JSTOR
  • Stevens, Doris, edited by Carol O'Hare, Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote (1920; Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995). ISBN 0-939165-25-2
  • Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill, ed., One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement (Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995) ISBN 0-939165-26-0

Further reading

  • Baker, Jean H. Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists. Hill and Wang, New York, 2005. ISBN 0-8090-9528-9.
  • "Woman suffrage" in Collier's New Encyclopedia, X (New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company, 1921), pp. 403–405.
  • Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (New York: Merriam Webster, 1983) ISBN 0-87779-511-8
  • Åsa Karlsson-Sjögren: "Männen, kvinnorna och rösträtten : medborgarskap och representation 1723–1866" (Men, women and the vote: citizenship and representation 1723–1866) (in Swedish)
  • Women's Suffrage, "A World Chronology of the Recognition of Women's Rights to Vote and to Stand for Election".


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  126. ^ Ward M. Morton, Woman Suffrage in Mexico. Gainesville: University of Florida Press 1962, p. 1.
  127. ^ María Elena Manzanera del Campo, La igualdad de derechos políticos. Mexico DF: 1953, p. 143.
  128. ^ quoted in Morton, Woman Suffrage in Mexico, p. 2.
  129. ^ a b c d e Morton, Woman Suffrage in Mexico, p. 2.
  130. ^ Morton, Woman Suffrage in Mexico, p. 3.
  131. ^ a b c d e f Rappaport, Helen (2001). Encyclopedia of women social reformers. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.]: ABC-CLIO. pp. 249–250.  
  133. ^ Chapin, Judge Henry (1881). Address Delivered at the Unitarian Church in Uxbridge, 1864. Worcester, Massachusetts: Charles Hamilton Press (Harvard Library; from Google Books). p. 172.
  134. ^ Stearman, Kaye (2000). Women's Rights Changing Attitudes 1900–2000. 
  135. ^ "Women's Suffrage: The Early Leaders".  
  136. ^ see fac-simile at "An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage and to Hold Office".  
  137. ^ "Today in History". The Library of Congress. Retrieved July 20, 2012. 
  138. ^ Van Wagenen, Lola: "Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage 1870–1896," BYU Studies, 2001.
  139. ^ a b James Ciment, Thaddeus Russell (2007). "The home front encyclopedia: United States, Britain, and Canada in World Wars I and II, Volume 1". p.163. ABC-CLIO, 2007
  140. ^ Stevens et al., Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote, NewSage Press (March 21, 1995).
  141. ^ Lemons, J. Stanley (1973). "The woman citizen: social feminism in the 1920s" p.13. University of Virginia Press, 1973
  142. ^ "Our Documents - 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)". 
  143. ^ "Suffrage Wins in Senate; Now Goes to States". The New York Times. 5 June 1919. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  144. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-01-08. 
  145. ^ Markoff, John, 'Margins, Centers, and Democracy: The Paradigmatic History of Women's Suffrage' Signs the Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2003; 29 (1)
  146. ^ a b c "Elecciones, sufragio y democracia en Chile (1810–2012): Voto femenino", Memoria chilena (in Spanish), retrieved June 30, 2013 
  147. ^ a b López Cárdenas, Patricio (2009), Las administraciones municipales en la historia de Valdivia (in Spanish), Editorial Dokumenta Comunicaciones, p. 32 
  148. ^  
  149. ^ "NAD History; National Association of the Deaf". 2006-01-01. Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  150. ^ "How is the Pope elected?". 2005-04-06. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  151. ^ "Women and the Priesthood". Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  152. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  153. ^ a b Denton, Lynn Teskey (2004). Steven Collins, ed. Female ascetics in Hinduism. Albany: State University of New York Press.  
  154. ^ "Manhattan, NY – Rabbi Keeps Off Women from Board of LES Orthodox Synagogue". Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  156. ^ "The Key to Marital Harmony: One Vote Per Couple?". Retrieved 2011-09-02. 


See also

In Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism and other 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. Women are denied the vote and the ability to be elected to positions of authority in some Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.[154][155][156]


Although women were included in the process of electing the Caliph during the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), women's rights vary in Islamic countries in the modern era. The question of women's right to become imams (religious leaders) is disputed by many (see Women in Islam).

Women voting in Kabul at the first presidential election (October 2004) in Afghan history


In both ancient and contemporary history of Hinduism women occupying positions of ecclesiastical and spiritual authority were relatively rare due to social (laukik) and scriptural (shastrik) perception of asceticism and spiritual leadership as incompatible with female nature.[153] However, textual sources within HIndu tradition that specifically forbid asceticism for women are few, and there are sufficient examples of women occupying these roles in Hinduism, both in the past and in present.[153]


The Pope is only elected by the College of Cardinals.[150] Women are not appointed as cardinals, so women cannot vote for the Pope.[151] The female offices of Abbess or Mother Superior are elective, the choice being made by the secret votes of the nuns belonging to the community.[152]


Women's suffrage in religions

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 (American) National Association of the Deaf were first allowed to vote.[149]

Women's suffrage in non-religious organizations

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.

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.

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 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 in order to ensure their personal development. It went on to give seminars, as well as founding night schools and the House of Laboring Women.

After the 1928 Student Protests, women started participating more actively in politics.


Women obtained the legal right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections in 1949.[146] Women's share among voters increased steadily after 1949, reaching the same levels of participation as men in 1970.[146]

Debate about women's suffrage in Chile began in the 1920s.[146] 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.[147][148] In addition, the Chamber of Deputies approved a law on March 9, 1933 establishing women's suffrage in municipal elections.[147]


Women were granted the right to vote and be elected in Brazil as of 16 July 1934.[86]


Women's suffrage was granted in 1947, during the first presidency of Juan Domingo Perón.


South America

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 and Helen Clark), Governor-General (Catherine Tizard and Silvia Cartwright), Chief Justice (Sian Elias), Speaker of the House of Representatives (Margaret Wilson), and from 3 March 2005 to 23 August 2006, all four of these posts were held by women, along with Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.

New Zealand's Electoral Act of 19 September 1893 made this country of the [6]

New Zealand

Women in Rarotonga won the right to vote in 1893, shortly after New Zealand.[145]

Cook Islands

Edith Cowan was elected to the West 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.

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 women to vote and stand for election for the Federal Parliament. Four women stood for election in 1903.[26] The Act did, however, specifically exclude 'natives' from Commonwealth franchise unless already enrolled in a state. 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.[144]

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, Victoria in 1884. Women became eligible to vote for the Parliament of South Australia in 1894 and 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.[26]

Edith Cowan (1861–1932) was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in 1921 and was the first woman elected to any Australian Parliament (though women in Australia had already had the vote for two decades).

The female descendants of the [6]


Australian women's rights were lampooned in this 1887 Melbourne Punch cartoon: A hypothetical female member foists her baby's care on the House Speaker. South Australian women were to achieve the vote in 1894.


The key vote came on June 4, 1919,[142] 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.[143]

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 and Lucy Burns led a series of protests against the Wilson Administration in Washington. 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".[139] 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.[140] 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.[139] After years of opposition, Wilson changed his position in 1918 to advocate women's suffrage as a war measure.[141]

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.

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.[138]

"Kaiser Wilson" banner held by a woman who picketed the White House

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

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.[137]

In June 1848, 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.[135] 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)[136] and Utah (1870).

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.[133] The women's suffrage movement was closely tied to abolitionism, with many suffrage activists gaining their first experience as anti-slavery activists.[134]

Program for Woman Suffrage Procession, Washington, D.C., March 3, 1913

United States

Women gained the right to vote in 1947 for local elections and for national elections in 1953 (article 34 of the Constitution).[132]

In 1937, Mexican feminists challenged the wording of the Constitution concerning who is eligible for citizenship – the Constitution did not specify "men and women."[131] María del Refugio García ran for election as a Sole Front for Women's Rights candidate for her home district, Uruapan.[131] García won by a huge margin, but was not allowed to take her seat because the government would have to amend the Constitution.[131] In response, García went on a hunger strike outside President Lázaro Cárdenas' residence in Mexico City for 11 days in August 1937.[131] Cárdenas responded by promising to change Article 34 in the Constitution that September.[131] By December, the amendment had been passed by congress, and women were granted full citizenship. However, the vote for women in Mexico was not granted until 1958.[131]

As women's suffrage made progress in Great Britain and the United States, in Mexico there was an echo. Carranza, who was elected president in 1916, called for a convention to draft a new Mexican Constitution that incorporated gains for particular groups, such as the industrial working class and the peasantry seeking land reform. It also incorporated increased restrictions on the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, an extension of the anticlericalism in the Constitution of 1857. The Constitution of 1917 did not explicitly empower women's access to the ballot.

There was increased advocacy for women's rights in the late 1910s, with the founding of a new feminist magazine, Mujer Moderna, which ceased publication in 1919. Mexico saw several international women's rights congresses, the first being held in Mérida, Yucatán, in 1916. The International Congress of Women had some 700 delegates attend, but did not result in lasting changes.[130]

In asserting his Carranza promulgated political plan Plan de Guadalupe in 1914, enumerating in standard Mexican fashion, his aims as he sought supporters. In the "Additions" to the Plan de Guadalupe, Carranza made some important statements that had an impact on families and the status of women in regards to marriage. In December 1914, Carranza issued a decree that legalized divorce under certain circumstances.[129] Although the decree did not lead to women's suffrage, it eased somewhat restrictions that still existed in the civil even after the nineteenth-century liberal Reforma established the State's right to regulate marriage as a civil rather than an ecclesiastical matter.

Following his ouster by military coup led by Victoriano Huerta and Madero's assassination, those taking up Madero's cause and legacy, the Constitutionalists (named after the liberal Constitution of 1857) began to discuss women's rights. Venustiano Carranza, former governor of Coahuila, and following Madero's assassination, the "first chief" of the Constitutionalists. Carranza also had an influential female private secretary, Hermila Galindo, who was a champion of women's rights in Mexico.[129]

The status of women in Mexico became an issue during the Mexican Revolution, with Francisco I. Madero, the challenger to the continued presidency of Porfirio Diaz interested in the rights of Mexican women. Madero was part of a rich estate-owning family in the northern state of Coahuila, who had attended University of California, Berkeley briefly and traveled in Europe, absorbing liberal ideas and practices. Madero's wife as well as his female personal assistant, Soledad González, "unquestionably enhanced his interest in women's rights."[129] González was one of the orphans that the Maderos adopted; she learned typing and stenography, and traveled to Mexico City following Madero's election as president in 1911.[129] Madero's brief presidential term was tumultuous, and with no previous political experience, Madero was unable to forward the cause of women's suffrage.

The liberal Mexican Constitution of 1857 did not bar women from voting in Mexico or holding office, but "election laws restricted the suffrage to males, and in practice women did not participate nor demand a part in politics," with framers being indifferent to the issue.[126][127] Years of civil war and the French intervention delayed any consideration of women's role in Mexican political life, but during the Restored Republic and the [128] The era of the Porfiriato did not record changes in law regarding the status of women, but women began entering professions requiring higher education: law, medicine, and pharmacy (requiring a university degree), but also teaching.[129] Liberalism placed great importance on secular education, so that the public school system ranks of the teaching profession expanded in the late nineteenth century, which benefited females wishing to teach and education for girls.


The first woman elected to Parliament was Agnes Macphail in Ontario in 1921.[125]

Most women of Quebec gained full suffrage in 1940.[122]

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 24 May 1918 women considered citizens (not Aboriginal women) became eligible to vote who were "age 21 or older, not alien-born and meet property requirements in provinces where they exist".[122]

Women had local votes in some provinces, as in Ontario from 1850, where women owning property (freeholders and householders) could vote for school trustees.[121] By 1900 other provinces had adopted similar provisions, and in 1916 Manitoba took the lead in extending women's suffrage.[122] Simultaneously suffragists gave strong support to the Prohibition movement, especially in Ontario and the Western provinces.[123][124]

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."[120]


North America

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".[119]

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.[116] On 6 February, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications.[117] About 8.4 million women gained the vote,[117] not only in Britain but also throughout Ireland, the whole of which was part of the United Kingdom. In November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into Parliament.[117] The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting 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.[118]

After this media success, the WSPU's tactics became increasingly violent. This included an attempt in 1908 to storm the Epsom Derby; she was trampled and died four days later. The WSPU ceased their militant activities during World War I and agreed to assist with the war effort.[115]

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).[112] 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.[113] As he was talking, Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney of the WSPU constantly shouted out, 'Will the Liberal Government give votes to women?'.[113] 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.[114] When they refused to pay their fine, they were sent to prison for one week, and three days.[113] The British public were shocked and took notice at this use of violence to win the vote for women.

[111] to advocate women's suffrage.Exeter Hall to Hyde Park from London as over 3,000 women trudged through the streets of Mud March This march became known as the [110] 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

In local government elections, single 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.[108][109]

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 to include female suffrage.[107] Roundly defeated in an all-male parliament under a Conservative government, the issue of women's suffrage came to the fore.

A British cartoon speculating on why imprisoned suffragettes refused to eat in prison

United Kingdom

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.[104] 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.[106]

A referendum on women's suffrage was held on 1 February 1959. The majority of Switzerland's men voted against it, but in some French-speaking cantons women obtained the vote.[104] The first Swiss woman to hold political office, Trudy Späth-Schweizer, was elected to the municipal government of Riehen in 1958.[105]


After the 1921 election, the first women were elected to Swedish Parliament after the suffrage: 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.[103]

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.[17]

In 1862 tax-paying women of legal majority (unmarried women, divorced women and widows) were again allowed to vote in municipal elections, making Sweden the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote.[78] 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.[98] During the 1880s, the [100] Gertrud Månsson being the first. In 1914 Emilia Broomé became the first woman in the legislative assembly.[102]

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).[97]

The vote was sometimes given through a male representative, which was one of the most prominent reasons cited by those in opposition to female suffrage. In 1758 women were excluded from mayoral and local elections, but continued to vote in national elections. In 1771 women's suffrage was abolished through the new constitution.[17]

During the Age of Liberty (1718–1771), tax-paying female members of guilds (most often widows), had been allowed to vote. Furthermore, new tax regulations made the participation of women in the elections even more extensive from 1743 onward.[17]

Women's suffrage demonstration in Gothenburg, June 1918.
Swedish suffragist Signe Bergman, around 1910


During the [96] From 1976, during the Spanish transition to democracy women fully exercised the right to vote and be elected to office.

Women exercising the right to vote during the Second Spanish Republic, 5th of November 1933.


San Marino introduced women's suffrage in 1959,[8] 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.[8]

San Marino

Despite initial apprehension against enfranchising women for the right to vote for the upcoming Constituent Assembly election, 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.[95]


The legal position of Romanian women barely changed from the mid-17th century through World War I. The 1866 Constitution, while liberal in many important respects, still left women in essentially the position of children, unable even to enter a legal contract without the consent of husbands.[94]


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.[8][12]

Carolina Beatriz Ângelo was the first Portuguese woman to vote, in 1911, for the Republican Constitutional Parliament.


The first women elected to the Sejm in 1919 were: Gabriela Balicka, Jadwiga Dziubińska, Irena Kosmowska, Maria Moczydłowska, Zofia Moraczewska, Anna Piasecka, Zofia Sokolnicka, Franciszka Wilczkowiakowa.,[92][93]

Regaining independence in 1918 following the 123-year period of partition and foreign rule, Poland immediately granted women the right to vote and be elected as of 28 November 1918.[86]


Liberal politician 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).[90] Norway thus became the first independent country to introduce women's suffrage.[91]

The first Norwegian woman casts her vote in the 1910 municipal election


Women were granted the right to vote in the Netherlands as of 9 August 1919. Prior to that, women had the right to be an elected representative as of 29 November 1917.[86]

Wilhelmina Drucker, a Dutch pioneer for women's rights, is portrayed by Truus Claes in 1917 on the occasion of her seventieth birthday.


In Liechtenstein, women's suffrage was granted via referendum in 1984.[89]


In Italy, women's suffrage was not introduced following World War I, but upheld by Socialist and Fascist activists and partly introduced by Benito Mussolini's government in 1925.[87] In April 1945, the provisional government decreed the enfranchisement of women allowing for the immediate appointment of women to public office, of which the first was Elena Fischli Dreher.[88] 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 UN occupation.


In Greece, 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. The first woman MP was Eleni Skoura, who was elected in 1953.


Women were granted the right to vote and be elected in Weimar Germany upon its founding.[86]


The 21 April 1944 ordinance of the French Committee of National Liberation, confirmed in October 1944 by the French provisional government, extended suffrage to French women.[82][83] The first elections with female participation were the municipal elections of 29 April 1945 and the parliamentary elections of 21 October 1945. "Indigenous Muslim" women in French Algeria had to wait until a 3 July 1958 decree.[84][85]


The predecessor state of modern [78]

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 (1718–1771), during which suffrage was granted to tax-paying female members of guilds.[17]

13 of the total of 19 female MPs, who were the first female MPs in the world, elected in Finland's parliamentary elections in 1907.


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.

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 1917–1919. Since then, women have had the right to vote.


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.[81]

[80] In 1898, an

In Denmark, the Danish Women's Society (DK) debated, and informally supported, women's suffrage from 1884, but it did not support if publicly until in 1887, when it supported the suggestion of the parliamentarian Fredrik Bajer to grant women municipal suffrage.[80] 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).[80] 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.[80]


In the former [78] Women were guaranteed equal voting rights by The constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1920.[79]

Czech Republic

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.[76] 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).[77] This happened in March 1948. In Belgium, voting is compulsory but not enforced.

Jane Brigode, Belgian suffragist, around 1910.


It was only after the breakdown of the Habsburg Monarchy, that Austria would grant the general, equal, direct and secret right to vote to all citizens, regardless of sex, in 1919.[75]


Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Croatian Spring participant; Europe's first female prime minister


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.


Sri Lanka (at that time Ceylon) was 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, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Her daughter, Mrs. 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 hold the portfolio.

Sri Lanka

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. The franchise will apply 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.[72] The council elections have been held since 2005 (the first time they were held before that was the 1960s).[50][73] The King also declared that women would be eligible to be appointed to the Shura Council, an unelected body that issues advisory opinions on national policy.[74] '"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.[50]

Saudi Arabia

Suffrage for Filipinas was achieved following an all-female, special plebiscite held on 30 April 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 extending the right of suffrage to women, which remains to this day.


Muslim League while their menfolk supported the Unionist Party. In November 1988, Benazir Bhutto became the first Muslim woman to be elected as Prime Minister of a Muslim country[71]


When voting was first introduced in Kuwait in 1985, Kuwaiti women had the right to vote.[42] The right was later removed. In May 2005, the Kuwaiti parliament re-granted female suffrage.[70]


Although women were allowed to vote in some prefectures in 1880, women's suffrage was enacted at a national level in 1945.[69]

Women's Rights meeting in Tokyo, to push for women's suffrage.


Women have full suffrage since Israel's independence in 1948.


In 1963, a referendum 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.


There are a lot of women that support Women's Rights. A very well known woman that supported it is Raden Ajeng Kartini. She is also famous for her quote, "Habis Gelap, Terbitlah Terang" or in English, "After Dark, Comes the Light". It means that after bad days or dark days, there will always be hope for everything, including the success of the Women's Suffrage movement. Raden Ajeng Kartini did succeed. The other women that also fought for women's rights also succeeded. Indonesians designated a holiday for Raden Ajeng Kartini, Hari Kartini, or Kartini's Day on Kartini's birthdate, April 21.

In the first half of the 20th century, Volksraad, 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, the administration introduced the right of women to be elected to urban representative institutions, which resulted in some Indonesian and European women entering municipal councils. Eventually, the law became that only European women and municipal councils could vote, which excluded all other women and local councils. September 1941 was when this law was amended and the law extended to women of all races by the Volksraad. Finally, in November 1941, the right to vote for municipal councils was granted to all women on a similar basis to men (with property and educational qualifications).[68]


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.[67]

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.

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 and the All-India Muslim League.[64] British and Indian feminists combined in 1918 to publish a magazine Stri Dharma that featured international news from a feminist perspective.[65] 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).[64] In Bengal province, the provincial assembly rejected it in 1921 but Southard shows an intense campaign produced victory in 1921. The original idea came from British suffragettes. Success in Bengal depended on middle class Indian women, who emerged from a fast-growing urban elite that favoured European fashions and ideas. 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.[66]


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.[63]



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".[62] 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.

Southern Rhodesia

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.

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.

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 non-Afrikaner uitlanders when independent in the 1800s) were not extended to women, and were themselves progressively eliminated between 1936 and 1968.

South Africa

Women won the right to vote in Sierra Leone in 1930.[61]

Sierra Leone


By country

Country Year women first granted suffrage at national level Notes
Kingdom of Afghanistan 1963
Principality of Albania 1920
 Algeria 1962 In 1962, on its independence from France, Algeria granted equal voting rights to all men and women.
 Andorra 1970
People's Republic of Angola 1975
 Argentina 1947[35]
 Armenia 1917 (by application of the Russian legislation)
1919 March (by adoption of its own legislation)[36]
 Australia 1902 Indigenous Australian women (and men) not officially given the right to vote until 1962.[37]
 Austria 1919
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic 1918
 Bahamas 1960
 Bahrain 2002
 Bangladesh 1971
 Barbados 1950
British Leeward Islands (Today: Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla) 1951
British Windward Islands (Today: Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica) 1951
Belarusian People's Republic 1919
 Belgium 1919/1948 Was granted in the constitution in 1919, for communal voting. Suffrage for the provincial councils and the national parliament only came in 1948.
 British Honduras (Today: Belize) 1954
Dahomey (Today: Benin) 1956
 Bermuda 1944
 Bhutan 1953
 Bolivia 1938
 Botswana 1965
 Brazil 1932
 Brunei 1959 Elections currently suspended since 1962 and 1965. Only in local elections are they permitted.[38]
 Kingdom of Bulgaria 1938
 Upper Volta (Today: Burkina Faso) 1958
Burma 1922
 Burundi 1961
Kingdom of Cambodia 1955
British Cameroons (Today: Cameroon) 1946
 Canada 1917–1919 for most of Canada; Prince Edward Island in 1922; Newfoundland in 1925; Quebec in 1940 To help win a mandate for conscription, the federal Conservative government of Robert Borden granted the vote in 1917 to female war widows, women serving overseas, and the female relatives of men serving overseas. However, the same legislation, the Wartime Elections Act, disenfranchised those who became naturalized Canadian citizens after 1902. Women over 21 who were "not alien-born" and who met certain property qualifications were allowed to vote in federal elections in 1918. Women first won the vote provincially in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1916; British Columbia and Ontario in 1917; Nova Scotia in 1918; New Brunswick in 1919 (women could not run for New Brunswick provincial office until 1934); Prince Edward Island in 1922; Newfoundland in 1925 (which did not join Confederation until 1949); and Quebec in 1940.[39]

Aboriginal women were not offered the right to vote until 1960. Previous to that they could only vote if they gave up their treaty status. It wasn't until 1948 when Canada signed the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Canada was forced to examine the issue of their discrimination against Aboriginal people.[40]

 Cape Verde 1975
 Cayman Islands 1957
 Central African Republic 1986
 Chad 1958
 Chile 1949 From 1934–1949, women could vote in local elections at 25, while men could vote in all elections at 21. In both cases, literacy was required.
 China 1947 In 1947, women won suffrage through Constitution of the Republic of China. in 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) replaced the Republic of China (ROC) as government of the Chinese mainland. The ROC moved to the island of Taiwan. The PRC constitution recognizes women's equal political rights with men.
 Colombia 1954
 Comoros 1956
 Corsica 1755
 Zaire (Today: Democratic Republic of the Congo) 1967
 Congo, Republic of the 1963
 Cook Islands 1893
 Costa Rica 1949
 Côte d'Ivoire 1952
 Cuba 1934
 Cyprus 1960
 Czechoslovakia (Today: Czech Republic, Slovakia) 1920
 Kingdom of Denmark (Including Greenland, the Faroe Islands and, at that time, Iceland) 1915
 Djibouti 1946
 Dominican Republic 1942
 Ecuador 1929
 Egypt 1956
 El Salvador 1939
 Equatorial Guinea 1963
 Estonia 1917
 Ethiopia (Then including Eritrea) 1955
 Fiji 1963
Grand Duchy of Finland 1906
 France 1944
 Gabon 1956
 Gambia, The 1960
Democratic Republic of Georgia 1918
 Germany 1918
 Ghana 1954
 Greece 1930 (Local Elections, Literate Only), 1952 (Unconditional)
 Guatemala 1946
 Guinea 1958
 Guinea-Bissau 1977
 Guyana 1953
 Haiti 1950
 Honduras 1955
 Hong Kong 1949
Hungarian Democratic Republic 1918
India 1947 In 1947, on its independence from the United Kingdom, India granted equal voting rights to all men and women.
 Indonesia 1937 (for Europeans only), 1945
 Iran 1963
 Iraq 1980
 Ireland 1918 (partial)
1922 (full)
From 1918, with the rest of the United Kingdom, women could vote at 30 with property qualifications or in university constituencies, while men could vote at 21 with no qualification. From separation in 1922, the Irish Free State gave equal voting rights to men and women.
 Iroquois Confederacy before 1654
 Isle of Man 1881
 Israel 1948 Women's suffrage was granted with the declaration of independence.
 Italy 1945
 Jamaica 1944
 Japan 1947
 Jersey 1919[41] Restrictions on franchise applied to men and women until after Liberation in 1945
 Jordan 1974
 Kazakh SSR 1924
 Kenya 1963
 Kiribati 1967
 Korea, North 1946
 Korea, South 1948
 Kuwait 1985[42]women's suffrage later removed in 1999, re-granted in 2005
 Kyrgyz SSR 1918
Kingdom of Laos 1958
 Latvia 1917
 Lebanon 1952[43] In 1957 a requirement for women (but not men) to have elementary education before voting was dropped, as was voting being compulsory for men (but not women).[44]
 Lesotho 1965
 Liberia 1946
Kingdom of Libya 1964
 Liechtenstein 1984
 Lithuania 1918
 Luxembourg 1919
 Madagascar 1959
 Malawi 1961
Federation of Malaya (Today: Malaysia) 1957
Maldives 1932
 Mali 1956
 Malta 1947
 Marshall Islands 1979
 Mauritania 1961
 Mauritius 1956
 Mexico 1947
 Micronesia, Federated States of 1979
 Moldova 1929/1940 As part of the [45] In 1940, after the formation of the Moldavian SSR, equal voting rights were granted to men and women.
 Monaco 1962
Mongolian People's Republic 1924
 Morocco 1963
People's Republic of Mozambique 1975
 Namibia 1989 (upon its independence) At independence from South Africa.
 Nauru 1968
   Nepal 1951
 Netherlands 1919
 Netherlands Antilles 1949
 New Zealand 1893
 Nicaragua 1955
 Niger 1948
 Nigeria 1958
 Norway 1913
 Oman 2003
 Pakistan 1947 In 1947, on its independence from the United Kingdom and India, Pakistan granted full voting rights for men and women
 Palau 1979
 Panama 1941
 Papua New Guinea 1964
 Paraguay 1961
 Peru 1955
 Philippines 1937
 Pitcairn Islands 1838
 Poland 1918
 Portugal 1931/1976 with restrictions in 1931,[8] restrictions lifted in 1976[8][12]
 Puerto Rico 1929/1935 Limited suffrage was passed for women, restricted to those who were literate. In 1935 the legislature approved suffrage for all women.
 Qatar 1997
 Romania 1929/1939/1946 Starting in 1929, women who met certain qualifications were allowed to vote in local elections. After the [45]
 Russia 1917 On July 20, 1917, under the Provisional Government.
 Rwanda 1961
 Saudi Arabia starting in 2015 Women were denied the right to vote or to stand for the local election in 2005, although suffrage was slated to possibly be granted by 2009,[46][47][48] then set for later in 2011, but suffrage was not granted either of those times.[49] 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.[50]
 Samoa 1990
 San Marino 1959
 São Tomé and Príncipe 1975
 Senegal 1945
 Seychelles 1948
 Sierra Leone 1961 In the 1790s, while Sierra Leone was still a colony, women voted in the elections.[51]
 Singapore 1947
 Solomon Islands 1974
 Somalia 1956
 South Africa 1930 (European and Asian South African women); 1994 (all women) White women only; women of other races were enfranchised in 1994, at the same time as men.
 Spain 1931
 Ceylon (Today: Sri Lanka) 1931
 Sudan 1964
Suriname 1948
 Swaziland 1968
 Sweden 1921
  Switzerland 1971 Women obtained the right to vote in national elections in 1971.[52] Women obtained the right to vote at local canton level between 1959 (Vaud and Neuchâtel in that year) and 1991 (Appenzell Innerrhoden).[53][54] See also Women's suffrage in Switzerland.
 Syria 1949
 Taiwan 1947 In 1945, Taiwan was return from Japan to China. In 1947, women won the suffrage under the Constitution of the Republic of China. In 1949, Republic of China(ROC) lost mainland China, moved to Taiwan.
 Tajik SSR 1924
 Tanzania 1959
 Thailand 1932
 Timor-Leste 1976
 Togo 1945
 Tonga 1960
 Trinidad and Tobago 1925 Suffrage was granted for the first time in 1925 to either sex, to men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30, as in Great Britain (the "Mother Country", as Trinidad and Tobago was still a colony at the time)[55] In 1945 full suffrage was granted to women.[56]
 Tunisia 1959
 Turkey 1930 (for local elections), 1934 (for national elections)
 Turkmen SSR 1924
 Tuvalu 1967
 Uganda 1962
 Ukrainian SSR 1919
 United Arab Emirates 2006 Limited suffrage for both men and women[57][58]
 United Kingdom 1918 (partial) (Then including Ireland)
1928 (full)
From 1918–1928, women could vote at 30 with property qualifications or as graduates of UK universities, while men could vote at 21 with no qualification.
 United States 1920
 Uruguay 1917/1927 Women's suffrage was broadcast for the first time in 1927, in the plebiscite of Cerro Chato.[59]
 Uzbek SSR 1938
 Vanuatu 1975
  Vatican City Never The Pope is only elected by the College of Cardinals; women not being appointed as cardinals, women cannot vote for the Pope.[60] See Catholicism
 Venezuela 1946
 Vietnam 1946
 North Yemen (Today: Yemen) 1970
 South Yemen (Today: Yemen) 1967
 Zambia 1962
 Southern Rhodesia (Today: Zimbabwe) 1919
 Yugoslavia (Today: Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia) 1945
   Women cannot vote
   Both women and men denied full enfranchisement


  • Dubois,Carol, Dumenil, Lynm (1299). "Through women's eyes", An American History with documents, 456(475).


For black women, achieving suffrage was a way to counter the disfranchisement of the men of their race.[34] 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. "If white American women, with all their natural and acquired advantages, need the ballot," argued Adele 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?"[34]

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 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".[32][33]


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