The nation needs her vote

The nation needs her vote

Women suffrage is the right of women to vote. The term is also extended to mean the rights related to property ownership, payment of tax, or marital status. The movements can be dated back to 18th century France. It was a culmination of the coordinated efforts of several organizations, such as the International Council of Women (1888), and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1904). In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation to grant the right to vote to all adult women.
In fact, it has been 92 years since women received the right to vote and the Onarga Historical Society has brought the suffrage movement to light. The 19th Amendment was officially declared a part of the US Constitution on 26th August, 1920. In the 19th century, as male suffrage was gaining popularity in many countries, women suffrage began to be raised as a question. By this time, women were receiving education, participating in reform movements and taking increased interest in politics. Supporters of the drive to allow equal voting rights for women were called suffragists. The movements that took place encompassed a wide and diverse range of views, coming from both men and women. A major reason that people gave for campaigning for the cause was that women were temperamentally kinder and softer towards the weaker sections of the society, especially children. Therefore, it can be assumed that women voters will have a civilizing effect on politics. The society gradually woke up to the belief that though home is a woman’s domain, she should be given the power to influence politics which in turn also affects her home. Society also realized that women should be given an equal footing with men. The ‘universal’ adult franchise should be applicable to all adults, irrespective of age, sex, caste, creed, race, religion etc.
In India, the Women’s Indian Association (WIA) in 1917 sought for the right for women to vote and to hold legislative offices on the same basis as men. It was endorsed by the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League at that time. In 1919, the British set up provincial legislatures following the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms, which had the power to grant women’s suffrage. Initially, it had a few hitches in the form of nationalist agenda, favour to upper-class women etc. but gradually such loopholes were overcome. In the course of time, in the Government of India Act 1935, the British Raj set up a system of separate electorates and separate seats for women. However, women leaders opposed segregated electorates and demanded adult franchise, and the Congress promised to bring the latter into effect, in 1931. Finally, when it came to power, equal voting right for men and women was enacted in 1947.
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Women activists in the USA, like Susan B.Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Candy Stanton campaigned for years before their voices were heard! Carrie Chapman Catt and other suffragettes had to convince President Woodrow Wilson and other political leaders that women too, should be given the right to vote. Effie Hobby is the historical woman who was 23 when women first got the right to vote in the US, and since then, she has voted for every election right from 1920. She feels it is a privilege, and must be utilized.
Today, those of us that have taken this right for granted, should go back to times when voting was limited to adult males who owned property, as it was believed that property owners had the strongest motive for a good government. Women of this century are blessed to have this right, and should make the most of it. As a responsible citizen of this country, she should make her contribution count.

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