Women’s Suffrage Movement of Europe Essay

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Throughout history, women have struggled for equality in all parts of the world. European women fought for suffrage for an extremely long period of time before they were granted full voting rights. Each country approved women’s suffrage at different times, but it occurred in most European countries in the early 20th century. The first country to develop universal suffrage was Finland in the year 1906(“Women’s Suffrage in Europe”). One of the last countries to become open about women’s voting rights was Switzerland, who didn’t grant women suffrage until 1971(“Women’s Suffrage in Europe”).

One of the main reasons why women desired the right to vote was because they wanted to be able to vote for new laws that would eliminate their social inequalities. (Women’s Politics: The Feminist Movement”). The women’s suffrage movement in Europe caused many social, political, and religious changes to occur. Prior to the women’s suffrage movement, many people were hesitant in supporting feminist causes. Some people simply did not think that the women’s suffrage movement was as important as other issues, such as national unity.Others did not agree with the extreme measures that some women were taking in order to fight for their right to vote (The Western Heritage).

In the beginning of the movement, women were not always united in their efforts due to disagreements about strategy. However, as more women began to realize that they wanted equality, they began to work together to fight for women’s suffrage. The movements that existed very early in the 20th century in countries such as Finland, Norway, and Denmark caused social changes in other regions in Europe. Their efforts for reform influenced many women in other countries to strive for equality.

In time, the suffrage movement caused social changes all over Europe. After a country had granted women the right to vote, women were able to become more involved politically. In some countries, along with the right to vote, women were able to become representatives in their legislative bodies. For example, in Finland, not only were women granted the right to vote in the year 1906, but nineteen women became members of the Diet.

Although many male socialist leaders such as Lenin and Stalin were intolerant of reforms for families or for women, many women became active in the socialist ovement in order to gain more freedoms economically. After the women’s suffrage movement in Europe, women were able to work with people from different political groups and organizations in order to achieve their goals. Religion in the early 20th century was effected by the women‘s suffrage movement in Europe. As more women were able to vote and even hold public office, conservative men and even other women became outraged at the changes being made. In Great Britain, a political movement that was going against the supports of women’s suffrage was referred to as anti-suffragism (“Women’s Suffrage in Europe. ).

The suffrage movement caused many Catholics to become unsupportive of the movements for women’s equality. The Catholic Encyclopedia preached that people should support the anti-suffrage movement. The Catholics and other religious groups did not believe that the tactics used to get support for women’s suffrage were appropriate. Many members of the clergy and extremely religious people believed that the suffragettes (women who were involved in the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom) were too radical. The feminist movement of the 20th century in England contributed to the women’s suffrage movement.World War I helped to advance the feminist cause.

Many women had to go into the workforce due to the labor shortage during the war. While the men were off fighting, women were able to get jobs in factories. The woman’s role was transformed from being solely about raising a family to working outside the household and making a living for herself. As the influence of women grew, they believed that they should have more rights. Therefore, they pushed for equal voting rights. The major women of the suffrage movement believed that with equal voting rights, they would be able to pass laws that would grant them more equality.

Although the United Kingdom was not the first European country to grant women’s suffrage, the movement was much more successful than those in other nations. The supporters of the movement formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage and hoped to show that women could be respectable and responsible in their political activity (The Western Heritage). The British women’s suffrage movement was more advanced than the ones in France and Germany. Hubertine Auclert was alone in her efforts to get women’s suffrage in France in the 1880’s. The National Council of French Women did not fight for women’s right to vote until years after it was formed.

Germany had many laws against political activity for women (The Western Heritage). Therefore, the suffrage movement was very underdeveloped. Another reason why the women’s suffrage movement was not very popular in Germany is because the political organizations did not have very much power and influence in politics. Many women did not feel that having more power in these organizations would help them at all.

However, as the years passed, the Union of German Women’s Organizations was founded. This organization focused largely on education for women and improving their social conditions.Women were not granted voting rights until Germany was defeated in war in 1919(The Western Heritage). In comparison to other areas in the world, Europe developed women’s suffrage very early. Many nations in the Middle East did not develop universal male and female suffrage until late in the 20th century. For example, Jordan did not extend voting rights to women until the year 1974.

Also, women were not able to vote in national elections in Qatar until this year, 2007. The struggle for equality was very violent and many women lost their lives fighting for what they believed was fair.The suffragettes in England as well as those involved in the movements in other nations in Europe sometimes risked their lives for the movement. The women’s suffrage movement of Europe was one of the most important reform movements in history. Works Cited Chevalier, Tracy.

“The Women’s Suffrage Movement. ” Tracy Chevalier. 2 Jan. 2007      ;http://www. tchevalier. com/fallingangels/bckgrnd/suffrage/;.

Kagan, Donald, Steven Ozment, and Frank Turner. “Votes for Women in Britain. ”      The Western Heritage. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, Inc. , 2004. 831-34.

Knight, Kevin. The Catholic Encyclopedia. ” New Advent. 6 Jan. 2007<http://www.

newadvent. org/cathen/index. html>. “Women’s Politics: The Feminist Movement. ” Women on the History of Europe. 4 Jan.

2007 <http://www. helsinki. fi/science/xantippa/wee/weetext/wee214. html>.

“Women’s Suffrage. ” Wikipedia. 5 Jan. 2007.

5 Jan. 2007 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/      Women%27s_suffrage#Timeline_of_women.

27s_suffrage_by_country>. “Women’s Suffrage in Europe. ” Women’s History. The New York Times Company. 3 Jan. 2007 <http://womenshistory.

about. com/library/etext/bl1911_womenv. htm>.

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