xvi Introduction Opposition to suffrage was particularly strong during the first wave, during which men (and some women) argued that women did not have the mental capabilities and lacked the qualifications to engage in politics, that women’s God-given place was in the house, and that women’s enfranchise- ment would lead to the destruction of traditional family values. If these arguments sound familiar, it is because they are still voiced today when- ever women demand greater equality and access to public life that takes them away from their domestic responsibilities. The right to vote was not won easily and peacefully either: the early suffragette movements in the United States and the United Kingdom often employed militant tactics and engaged in civil disobedience to be heard and garner support for their cause. Public protests, hunger strikes, and the storming of legislatures were not uncommon. In the United Kingdom, suffragettes chained them- selves to the ladies’ gallery in Parliament and destroyed the windows of businesses. In the United States, Susan B. Anthony illegally cast a vote in the 1868 election and was arrested for voter fraud and fined $100. She refused to pay the fine and subsequently organized other women to ille- gally cast their votes in the 1872 election (Hawkesworth 2012). In the end, the early struggles for suffrage paid off. By the 1960s, women suffrage was seen as a sine qua non for a modern state and was adopted without much debate and fanfare during the third wave of suffrage extension. Women’s Political Engagement Overall, women tend to vote at lower rates than men. Even though we lack reliable data that disaggregates women’s and men’s voter turnout, there are signs that this trend is slowly changing. At least in industrialized countries, the voting gap is slowly narrowing or, in some cases, has been reversed. In the Global South, the gender gap in voter turnout still favors men (Henderson and Jeydel 2014). The same is true for women’s political engagement, where studies have shown that women are less likely to be knowledgeable about, discuss, or be interested in politics (Karp and Ban- ducci 2008). One major reason why women are less likely to vote and participate in politics is a lack of education and knowledge of the political process. Educational discrepancies—particularly in literacy levels—pre- vent many women from political participation, including voting. A study of seventeen Latin American countries found that the gender gap in politi- cal participation closes when we take women’s education, employment, and economic resources into account (Desposato and Norrander 2009).
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