Introduction Malliga Och WOMEN AS VOTERS The very first step toward equal representation is gaining universal suf- frage, that is, the right to vote and stand for election. The struggle for women’s suffrage started in the late 1800s and continued until 2015. Women won universal suffrage in three waves centered around World War I, World War II, and the periods of decolonization when colonies achieved independence. Women suffrage in most countries was delivered piecemeal (IPU n.d.): First, countries limited suffrage to the right to vote and only later allowed women to run for office (or vice versa). For example, women in New Zealand could vote in 1893 but had to wait until 1919 to be able to run for office. In the United States, women could stand for elections since 1788 in some territories and states but did not gain the right to vote until 1920. Second, a contested question was whether women should be granted the right to vote under the same conditions as men. At that time, the vote was often restricted to white, educated, and wealthy men. Some suffrag- ettes, particularly those belonging to the international socialist movement, wanted to extend the right to vote to more people, while upper-class, edu- cated, wealthy, and white women, who often were the main leaders of the suffragette movements, preferred to have the vote limited by socioeco- nomic status and race. As a result, many of the early states who granted women the right to vote limited the vote to a small group of women. For example, in Australia, white women were enfranchised in 1902, while Aboriginal women had to wait until 1962. Similarly, in South Africa, white women were granted the right to vote in 1930 however, Indian and Colored women (mixed race) had to wait until 1984, and Black women had to wait until the apartheid regime ended in 1994.
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