Female Suffrage Around the World
Friday 14th December 2018 marks 100 years since women first voted in the UK, but the suffrage struggle was far harder in many other countries in the 20th century and even beyond. In honour of the centenary, Historic Newspapers have created a women’s suffrage timeline to illustrate the worldwide struggle.
The women’s suffrage movement gained traction at the end of the 19th century, when women began to form organisations in order to fight equal voting rights.
After a successful campaign from the Suffragettes in the U.K., women won the right to vote in 1918, and first cast their votes in the general election on December 14th 1918. Initially, the right was only extended to women over the age of 30 who met certain property ownership and educational requirements. It wasn’t equality, but it was a vital step to women representing themselves in politics.
Women in the United Kingdom actually achieved equal voting rights with men only in 1928, 10 years after they were initially granted the right to vote. This was a common occurrence throughout the world: women would be afforded the right to vote, with limitations. For instance, Australia was one of the first countries to extend suffrage to women in 1906, but Aboriginal people wouldn’t be given the same right for another 68 years.
New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote in 1893. It was like a domino effect, and soon, all over the world, women were campaigning for suffrage. Their approaches were varied: some appealed peacefully, others violently. Women all over the world dedicated their lives to the cause, often sacrificing their wellbeing, and sometimes even their lives.
This timeline and graph highlight the differences between limited and full enfranchisement. Countries such as Canada, Australia, and South Africa sought for suffrage for colonials, and the rights of indigenous people were denied until much later. It also explores the outside factors, such as marital status, educational level and financial situation, which denied women full equality in suffrage.
“Few would believe that it took Australia 68 years to give all women the vote after awarding the vote to only colonial women in 1894. Historical Newspapers’ research indicates that even in Western countries, traditionally associated with being more liberal, the right to vote was incredibly hard to come by for women of all backgrounds and classes.” This article was written by Tom Matthews, spokesperson for Historic Newspapers