This means that major changes in womens political activities, other than exercising their right to vote, have been long in coming. Today, women are struggling to gain equal participation in political office alongside men. Of interest is the use in over 41 countries of parity quotas and quota laws to achieve political gender balance. Responding to strong pressure by womens organizations, gender quotas have appeared in many new constitutions, like the one of Rwanda, and recently in the constitution of Iraq. This means that a certain number of parliamentary seats are reserved for women. The seats are distributed among the political parties in proportion to the number of seats awarded in parliament. In South Africa, a municipal law stipulates that 50 percent of all candidates for the local office have to be women. India in 1992 enacted a 33 percent policy to reserve seats for women in Parliament and throughout the State Government. The final effectiveness of this policy is unknown, but so far, as many as one million women have gotten an opportunity to enter institutions as members and office bearers; many more have participated in elections and as campaigners for state legislatures. Most dramatic has been the change in the landscape of local politics. In some cases, women for the first time have sat with village leaders, and sometimes even had a turn heading village affairs.
It is commonly believed that female suffrage was desired and fought for only in England and the United States. Yet dynamic struggles for womens basic democratic right appeared in many countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Though these movements differed in their reasons and tactics, the fight for female suffrage, along with other womens rights concerns, cut across many national boundaries. By exploring the following topics, this essay attempts to help rectify the narrow and unexamined view of female suffrage.
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In 1956 in Egypt, thirty-three years after feminists had first demanded suffrage, the revolutionary government granted women the right to vote. But from the start, the state and official Islam obstructed womens political rights by banning feminist organizations and suppressing the public expression of their views. Thus the same year that the state granted women the right to vote, women were suppressed as independent political actors.
Gender Difference in History: Women in China and …
The strength of the 19th/early 20th century struggle for womens suffrage was its transnational nature. Cooperation between women of various nations gave each the resources they needed to overcome their marginalisation in the politics of their own nations. In the later decades of the 19th century, the expansion of the telegraph and growth of womens press allowed the discussion about women's status and roles to be communicated from country to country. Improvements in transportation facilitated like-minded women and men to attend international gathering where they met and organized. The momentum of womens suffrage was bolstered by such international movements as:
Journal of International Women's Studies | Campus …
International Socialism: In 1907 international socialism decided to support womens suffrage. Socialists were bent on organizing working class women. Since bans against female party membership existed within most traditional political parties, Socialists, having to organize women separately from men, managed to create successful female oriented movements in some countries.
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Most Socialists went beyond civic issues to link suffrage to a fundamental challenge to gender relations. German Socialists, for example, demanded sexual emancipation and more control for women within their families as well as the vote. Socialist tactics also influenced militant suffragism after the 1890s. Most effective was a section within the British movement, the Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU), which used aggressive tactics of political confrontation to bring attention to the suffrage cause. Groups in other nations imitated the British, such as the suffragettes in Argentina and the United States. And, in 1912 in Nanking, the Chinese Woman Suffrage Alliance broke windows and stormed the parliament building demanding equality of the sexes and womens right to vote.