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.
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:
In colonized countries, women demanded the right to vote not just from stable republics, but from colonial powers. Anti-colonial nationalist movements in some cases encompassed womens suffrage. For example, in India in 1919, poet and political activist Sarojini Naidu headed a small deputation of women to England to present the case for female suffrage before a select committee set up to create a proposal for constitution reforms aimed at the inclusion of some Indians in government. Although the British committee found the proposition preposterous, they allowed future Indian provincial legislatures to grant or refuse the franchise to women. To the British surprise, many did, making it possible within a short span of time for women to be represented, however limited, on a par with men. Universal suffrage for all adults over 21 was not achieved, however, until it became part of Indias 1950 Constitution.
Other choices include the astrolabe, aqueducts, and the printing press. Low Percentage Thematics include: (mentioned above), (Silk Roads, Gold-Salt trade, OPEC, NAFTA), (Fall of Rome & Soviet Union), (WWI and WWII), and Global problems such as pollution and deforestation. BUT IT REALLY COULD BE ANYTHING!
The Impact of Nationalism
The ideas of Qasim Amin reflected those who closely linked the emancipation of women and rejection of veiling to national movements for independence. For this group, the changing roles of women in society were important ways to convince the overseas colonial rulers that their subject nations were ready to govern themselves. Women were encouraged to be symbols of the new state. Those who resisted these ideas of social progress were mocked. Turkish elites, for example, mocked women covered in black, calling them "beetles." Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who began to build a secular nation-state in 1923, denounced the veil, calling it demeaning and a hindrance to civilized nation. But he did not outlaw it. Shortly after, in Iran in the 1930s, Reza Shah Pahlevi did, issuing a proclamation banning the veil outright. For many women, this decree in its suddenness was not liberating but frightening. Some refused to leave home for fear of having their veil torn from their face by the police.
Male leaders of nationalist movements encouraged women to join them and appear more freely in public. Slowly some women did. In 1910, a young Turkish woman attracted attention by daring to have herself photographed. At about the same time, educated women in Turkey began to leave the house unveiled, but still wearing hijab. The most dramatic public unveiling was undertaken by Huda Shaarawi in Egypt in 1923. Following suit were Ibtihaj Kaddura in Lebanon, Adila Abd al-Qudir al-Jazairi in Syria, and much later Habibah Manshari in Tunis. Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi remembers the fight her mother had with her father about replacing her heavier traditional veil with "a tiny triangular black veil made of sheer silk chiffon. This drove Father crazy: 'It is so transparent! You might as well go unveiled!' But soon the small veil, the litham, became the fashion, with all the nationalists' wives wearing it all over Fez - to gatherings in the mosque and to public celebrations, such as when political prisoners were liberated by the French."
Women's organizations also played an important role in transforming dress, although this was a minor issue in their struggle for women's political rights and for legal reforms. It should be stressed that for many women it was not the fact of wearing the veil that was the issue, but that the veil symbolized the relegation of women to a secluded world that did not allow them to participate in public affairs...
Inter-regional and Pan-national Organizations: Region specific coalitions also strengthened individual movements. Although Latin American women participated in several inter-American and European conferences, they had more success when they formed supportive alliances within the South American continent. The first South American International Feminine Congress took place in Buenos Aires in 1910. And, although the 1928 founded Inter-American Commission of Women at first was driven by North American issues, it increasingly geared itself to the needs of Latin American women. By the 1940s, the Commission had become an almost exclusively Latin American organization.
The book begins with an essay on Nationalism as a Problem in the History of Political Ideas, a critique, from a postcolonial standpoint, of the theories of Elie Kedourie, John Plamenatz, Ernest Gellner, and Benedict Anderson.
The League of Nations and United Nations: The establishment of these international bodies significantly forwarded the goal of universal female suffrage. In 1946 a Commission on Women was established, and the Convention of the Political Rights for Women was adopted in 1952.
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.
The International Woman Suffrage Association: The International Woman Suffrage Association, established between 1899 and 1902, held its first meeting in Berlin in 1904. A series of Congresses followed, each with the aim of improving womens rights, and each providing a stimulus for similar transforming movements throughout the world. At the Alliances seventh meeting in Budapest in 1913, euphoria about success was in the air, causing American Carrie Chapman Catt to claim: Our movement has reached the last stage....Parliaments have stopped laughing at woman suffrage, and politicians have begun to dodge!
Rather than offering unasked for advice, non-Muslims might educate themselves with regard to local customs and religious belief, and offer support when it is requested by people within the culture itself. Following is an excerpted essay from a section in the curriculum unit . The essay provides an historical look at Islamic dress. The section contains primary source accounts on the topic from a variety of times and places.
Full suffrage occurs when all groups of women are included in national voting and can run for any political office. In most cases women won the right to vote in uneven stages. New Zealand in 1893 was first. Liberalism was a strong force in this pioneering land which increasingly rejected what it viewed as archaic attitudes from the Old World. The support of social reform issues, including temperance, gave New Zealand suffragists the edge they needed. The now famous Womens Suffrage Petition is credited with being a major force for this success. Signed by close to one quarter of the female adult population, the petition was the largest of its kind in New Zealand and other western countries. It is comprised of 546 sheets of paper, all glued together to form one continuous roll 274 metres long, with the signatures of over 10,000 adult women. A few Maori women signed, but at this time they mainly were concerned with achieving political participation rights for the whole tribe.