Different Women’s Suffrage Movements

The word “suffragette” was first used to describe women campaigning for the right to vote, in an article in a British newspaper in 1906. In simple words, the women’s suffrage movements were the struggle for the right of women to vote and run for office and are part of the overall women’s rights movement. Here I am going to discuss Different Women’s Suffrage Movements in detail.

Women’s Suffrage Movement

In the mid-19th century, women in several countries-most notably, the U.S. and Britain-formed organizations to fight for suffrage.

In 1888, the first international women’s rights organization was formed, the International Council of Women (ICW). Because the ICW was reluctant to focus on suffrage, in 1904 the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) was formed by British women’s rights activist Millicent Fawcett, American activist Carrie Chapman Catt, and other leading women’s rights activists.

Women’s Suffrage in Europe

The first country to grant national-level voting rights to women was the self-governing British colony of New Zealand. New Zealand passed the Electoral Bill in September 1893. The British colony of South Australia granted full suffrage in 1894, giving women the right to vote and to stand for parliament.

Australia federated in 1901 and country-wide women’s suffrage followed quickly in 1902.

Other countries followed soon after New Zealand, with limited rights granted to women in Sweden, Britain, Finland, and some US states by the early 20th century.

When World War I began in 1914, many suffrage organizations shifted their focus to supporting the war effort, although some activists continued to fight for suffrage.

Britain’s Parliament passed the Eligibility of Women Act in November 1918, which allowed women to be elected to Parliament.

Following a path similar to Britain’s, many countries-Denmark, Iceland, the USSR, the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, and the United States had granted the vote to women by 1920.

Other European countries did not grant women the right to vote until much later-Spain in 1931, France in 1944, and Belgium, Italy, Romania, and Yugoslavia in 1946.

Women’s Suffrage in the United States

The suffrage movement in the United States gained prominence with the first women’s rights convention in the world: the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

In 1851, Stanton was introduced by a mutual friend to Susan B. Anthony, who was most active in the temperance movement at the time.

The two would form a life-long friendship and collaboration focused on obtaining suffrage. They formed the Woman’s National Loyal League in 1863 to support the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery and to campaign for full citizenship for blacks and women.

Role of National Woman Suffrage Associate

In 1869, with slavery abolished, a rift developed in the suffrage movement over how to gain suffrage. Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and campaigned for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage in America, and for other women’s rights, such as changes in divorce laws and an end to employment and pay discrimination.

By the 1880s, it became clear that the two organizations would be more effective if they merged back into one group, so they formed the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890.

In 1914, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns became dissatisfied with the leadership and direction of the NWSA and formed the Congressional Union. Both women had assisted and learned from the British suffrage movement, which was much more radicalized and militant than the NWSA.

The Congressional Union initially focused on putting pressure on the Democratic Party, which controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

In 1916, the organization was renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP) and began a more militant campaign for suffrage, picketing, and holding demonstrations in front of the White House.

Women’s right to vote was achieved through the national and local efforts of both the NAWSA and the NWP.

Chapman Catt formed the League of Women Voters during NAWSA’s last meeting on February 14, 1920, to help newly enfranchised women exercise their right to vote.

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