Today is International Women’s Day. I’ve developed the habit to write a post every year around this date stressing the absolute need to create a culture of respect and equality, a culture that values diversity. Today I’d like to highlight this concept again, this time remembering one of the bigger fundamental achievements women reached: the right to vote.
Pew Research Center conducted an analysis regarding women’s right to vote in 198 countries and self-administering territories, finding out that it was New Zealand in 1893 which was the very first country to formally allow women to vote in national elections, while Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have been the most recent territories to introduce universal suffrage.
In general, before 1960 more than half the analysed countries [129 out of 198] granted women the right to vote, including the USA and all but 6 European nations. And I’m very happy to say that today “none of these 198 countries and territories bar women from voting because of their sex, [even if it’s necessary to specify that] some countries do not hold national elections”.
In some territories some legal or cultural restrictions apply, sometimes even after enfranchisement. In some places women’s vote was initially restricted to certain backgrounds based on demographic factors such as race, age, education level or marital status; in others they were able to vote in national elections before they could express their opinion in the local ones or vice versa. In general once women acquire their right to vote, very few countries rescinded that right, but the exceptions are obviously very noticeable [i.e. Afghanistan].
Women often turn out to vote at higher rates than men, and I do not think it’s a coincidence.