Women's suffrage

Women's suffrage (also known as female suffrage, woman suffrage or women's right to vote) is the right of women to vote in elections; a person who advocates the extension of suffrage, particularly to women, is called a suffragist. Limited voting rights were gained by women in Finland, Iceland, Sweden and some Australian colonies and western U.S. states in the late 19th century. National and international organizations formed to coordinate efforts to gain voting rights, especially the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (founded in 1904, Berlin, Germany), and also worked for equal civil rights for women.

In 1881, the Isle of Man gave women who owned property the right to vote. In 1893, the British colony of New Zealand, granted women the right to vote. The colony of South Australia did the same in 1894 and women were able to vote in the next election, which was held in 1895. South Australia also permitted women to stand for election alongside men. In 1899 Western Australia enacted full women's suffrage, enabling women to vote in the constitutional referendum of 31 July 1900 and the 1901 state and federal elections. In 1902 women in the remaining four colonies also acquired the right to vote and stand in federal elections after the six Australian colonies federated to become the Commonwealth of Australia. Discriminatory restrictions against Aboriginal people, including women, voting in national elections, were not completely removed until 1962.

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 women Members of Parliament in the 1907 parliamentary elections. Norway followed, granting full women's suffrage in 1913. Denmark followed in 1915.

Most independent countries enacted women's suffrage in the interwar era, including Canada in 1917, Britain (over 30 in 1918, over 21 in 1928), Germany, Poland in 1918, Austria and the Netherlands in 1919, and the United States in 1920 (Voting Rights Act of 1965 secured voting rights for racial minorities). Leslie Hume argues that the First World War changed the popular mood:

Late adopters in Europe were Spain in 1933, France in 1944, Italy in 1946, Greece in 1952, San Marino in 1959, Monaco in 1962, Andorra in 1970, Switzerland in 1971 at federal level, and at local canton level between 1959 in the cantons of Vaud and Neuchâtel and 1991 in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, and Liechtenstein in 1984. 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.

The United States gave women equal voting rights in all states with the Nineteenth Amendment ratified in 1920. Canada 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, with the exception of Uruguay in 1917 (see table in Summary below). The last Latin American country to give women the right to vote was Paraguay in 1961. In December 2015, women were first allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia (municipal elections).

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 or property owners 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 189 countries currently being parties to this Convention.

This page was last edited on 17 February 2018, at 18:40.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage under CC BY-SA license.

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