Today is the anniversary of gaining the right to vote by Polish women 99 years ago. Polish women were among the first to vote in Europe.
In 1881, the Isle of Man gave women who owned property the right to vote.The first European country to introduce women’s suffrage was the Grand Dutchy of Finland, then Russian Empire followed. Russian Empire elected the world’s first women Members of Parliament in 1907. Then Norway followed, granting full women’s suffrage in 1913. In 1917 Britain and Poland in 1918. In the Netherlands women won the right to stand for an election as a candidate in 1917. They gained full suffrage in 1919.
Spain came later in 1933, France in 1944, Italy in 1946, Greece in 1952, San Marino in 1959, Monaco in 1962, Andora 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 Portugal women received suffrage in 1931, but full gender equality in voting was granted in 1976.
Outside Europe in 1893, the British colony of New Zealand, granted women the right to vote. The colony of South Australia in 1894. In 1899 Western Australia enacted full women’s suffrage. 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 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 most of Latin American nations established women’s suffrage in the 1940s. Paraguay was the last Latin American country to give women the right to vote.
In December 2015, women were first allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia in municipal elections.
Photos: NAC, National Polish Archives