Women's suffrage refers to the legal right of women to vote in national and local elections. Women sought to change voting laws to allow them to vote beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. National and international organisations, such as the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (founded in 1904 in Berlin, Germany), were formed to coordinate efforts toward that goal, as well as for equal civil rights for women.
• Women were barred from voting in ancient Greece and republican Rome, as well as in Europe's few democracies by the end of the 18th century.
• Women's voting rights became a topic in the nineteenth century, and the struggle was especially fierce in the United Kingdom and the United States, but those countries were not the first to grant women the right to vote on a national level.
• In 1881, some women on the Isle of Man (which is part of the British Isles but not the United Kingdom) were granted the right to vote.
• New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in, but not to stand for, parliamentary elections in 1893.
• Women had won the right to vote in national elections in New Zealand (1893), Australia (1902), Finland (1906), and Norway by the early twentieth century (1913).
• The enfranchisement of women in Europe and elsewhere was accelerated by World War I and its aftermath.
• Between 1914 and 1939, women in 28 more countries gained either equal voting rights or the ability to vote in national elections including Soviet Russia (1917); Canada, Germany, Austria, and Poland (1918); Czechoslovakia (1919); the United States and Hungary (1920); the United Kingdom (1918 and 1928); and Burma (1918 and 1928) and (Myanmar; 1922).
• In a number of those countries, women were first given the right to vote in municipal or other local elections, and possibly provincial elections, before being granted the right to vote in national elections.
• France, Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia, and China were added to the group after WWII.
• In India, the constitution of 1949 established full suffrage for women.
• In 1956, women in Pakistan were granted full voting rights in national elections.
• By 1971, women were allowed to vote in federal and most cantonal elections in Switzerland, and full voting rights were granted to women in Syria in 1973.
• The United Nations Convention on the Political Rights of Women, which was adopted in 1952, mentioned that women should be allowed to vote in all elections on an equal footing with men.
• In Saudi Arabia, women were first allowed to vote in municipal elections in December 2015.
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE IN BRITAIN
• In the United Kingdom, Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for women's suffrage in her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), and the Chartist movement demanded it in the 1840s.
• From 1850s onwards, prominent liberal intellectuals in England, most notably John Stuart Mill and his wife, Harriet, became more vocal in their support for women's suffrage.
• Although Parliament granted women taxpayers the right to vote in municipal elections in 1869, they were still denied the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
• The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies was founded in 1897. Its members were known as suffragists, and their goal was to achieve women's enfranchisement through peaceful and legal means. It believed in using literature to educate the public and petitions and bills to influence the government.
• A group of suffragist women were growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the lack of progress being made. As a result, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Emelie Pankhurst and her daughters, was founded in 1903. As their motto, "deeds not words," made clear, the group preferred to call themselves suffragettes and aimed to win their cause through militant and illegal tactics.
• The group heckled politicians, staged mass protests, attacked prominent buildings, set fire to unoccupied homes and churches, went on hunger strikes, and was forced to eat when arrested.
• The suffragettes held two of the most famous mass rallies in 1908 and 1913, the first of which drew around 300,000 people.
• The British government granted property-owning women over the age of 30, the right to vote in 1918. Ten years later, in 1928, all women over the age of 21 were granted voting rights, bringing them on par with men.
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE IN USA
• The nascent United States had limited the right to vote to white men who met certain property ownership requirements.
• In 1848, the nation's leading suffragists met at Seneca Falls, New York, for a historic women's rights meeting.
• This meeting is regarded as the start of the American women's suffrage movement.
• In 1868, at the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, granting citizenship to all persons born or naturalised in the country and granting voting rights to black men, despite the fact that most states still prohibited women from voting. In the 1875 case, the US Supreme Court, too, ruled against women's suffrage.
• At the turn of the century, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) led the movement, while the more radical National Woman's Party (NWP) pressed the US Congress to pass the amendment.
• On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE IN INDIA
• Female participation in the freedom struggle, beginning with the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal (1905-08), as well as support from British suffragists, fuelled India's woman suffrage movement.
• Margaret Cousins established the Women's Indian Association in Adyar, Madras, in 1917 to give women a voice in government policy. Equal rights, educational opportunity, social reform, and women's suffrage were all priorities for the organisation. Herabai Tata was named general secretary and Annie Besant was named president.
• On December 15, 1917, Sarojini Naidu led a delegation of 14 prominent women from across India to present the demand for women's suffrage to be included in the new Franchise Bill being developed by the Indian government.
• In 1918, the British Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, which gave women over the age of 30 who were eligible to be, or married to someone who was eligible to be, a local government elector, the right to vote. British citizens living in other parts of the Empire were not subject to this law.
• In the 1920s, different provinces of British India granted women limited suffrage rights. Women's suffrage was expanded under the Government of India Act 1935, which included reserved seats for women in both the central and provincial legislatures.
• With the passage of the Indian Constitution in 1950, which provided for universal adult suffrage, full voting rights were granted.