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Women's Suffrage Rights Education
Suffrage Parade, 1913, New York Suffrage Parade,
1913, New York
Initial Caphe great multitude of countries spanning the globe has slowly come to recognize and preserve women’s voting rights. The right to vote has a direct impact on women’s rights in all other realms, as women can participate in the formation of government and law. It was not until near the end of the nineteenth century, in 1893, that the first country, New Zealand, granted women the right to participate in national elections on the same basis as men. In the years prior to 1940, 26 countries followed suit.

While women’s suffrage is now almost universal, history shows long delays between men and women gaining the right to vote in individual countries; the time elapsed between men’s suffrage and women’s suffrage ranged from one to 134 years, with the average delay for women amounting to 47 years. As of 1995, women had a legal right to vote everywhere in the world except in 6 countries in the Middle East—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates—as well as in Brunei, a small oil-rich monarchy in Southeast Asia.

Since 1954, numerous International United Nations Conventions have been held to protect and further women’s rights throughout the world. (Visit the WomenWatch U.N. Web site for more information.)

By 1995, as a result of United Nations efforts,

See the charts below for capsule information about women's suffrage in dozens of countries around the globe, and a comparison of international educational opportunties for women.

Gap in Years Between Men’s and Women’s Right to Vote
New Zealand    
Norway    
Denmark    
Austria    
Netherlands    
US    
UK    
Spain    
Turkey    
Cuba    
Phillippines    
Italy    
France    
Japan    
Belgium    
Peru    
Greece    
Switzerland    
Jordan    
Portugal    
  1980 1970 1960 1950 1940 1930 1920 1910 1900 1890 1880 1870 1860 1850 1840 1830 1820

 

Countries Granting Women Voting Rights by Decade
Before 1910
Finland
New Zealand
1910s
Austria
Denmark
Germany
Iceland
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
ex-USSR
1920s
ex-Czechoslovakia
Lebanon
Mongolia
Sweden
United Kingdom
United States
1930s
Brazil
Cuba
Pakistan
Philippines
Spain
Sri Lanka
Thailand
Turkey
Uruguay
1940s
Albania
Argentina
Bangladesh
Belgium
Bulgaria
Burma
Cameroon
Chile
China
Costa Rica
Dominican Rep
Ecuador
France
Guatemala
Hungary
Indonesia
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea, North
Korea, South
Laos
Liberia
Malta
Mexico
Niger
Panama
Romania
Senegal
Singapore
Syria
Trinidad & Tobago
Venezuela
Vietnam
ex-Yugoslavia
1950s
Barbados
Benin
Bolivia
Colombia
Cote d’Ivoire
Egypt
Ethiopia
Gabon
Ghana
Greece
Guinea
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
India
Madagascar
Malaysia
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Nepal
Nicaragua
Peru
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Sudan
Tanzania
Togo
Tunesia
1960s
Afghanistan
Algeria
Australia
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Canada
Chad
Congo
Cyprus
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Gambia
Iran
Kenya
Lesotho
Libya
Malawi
Morocco
Nigeria
Paraguay
Rwanda
Swaziland
Uganda
Zaire
Zambia
1970s
Angola
Fiji
Jordan
Mozambique
Papau New Guinea
Portugal
Switzerland
Yemen
1980s
Central African Republic
Iraq
Nambia
Zimbabwe
1990s
Cambodia
South Africa
Women and Education

Securing women’s human rights has been a struggle and continues to be a struggle as the legality of political participation and protection for women often does not translate into a reality. In many countries gender-biased cultural norms persist and supercede women’s legal rights. Access to education, especially higher education, is more limited for girls than boys, and below you will find a chart with more information on women and education.


Female Education as a Percent of Male Education, 1995
  Literacy Rate Elementary Secondary Higher Education Average
Latin America 97 95 106 89 97
Middle East 75 86 71 64 74
South Asia 57 73 58 45 58
Far East 84 90 85 68 82
Oceania 81 86 81 47 74
Africa 69 82 78 54 71
Developing Countries 77 84 75 64 75
Information has been reproduced, with permission, from "Women...A World Survey" by Ruth Leger Sivard, Copyright 1995 by World Priorities Inc., P.O. Box 25140, Washington DC, 20027, USA