5 June 1915

Denmark amends its constitution to allow women’s suffrage.

Women’s suffrage refers to the right of women to vote in elections. It was a significant movement in the 19th and early 20th centuries, leading to significant changes in voting rights and women’s roles in society.

Early Beginnings

18th and Early 19th Century: The movement for women’s suffrage began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Early advocates were influenced by the Enlightenment ideals of equality and individual rights.
Mary Wollstonecraft: In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” advocating for equal education for women and laying the groundwork for future feminist movements.

The Suffrage Movement

Seneca Falls Convention (1848): The first women’s rights convention in the United States, held in Seneca Falls, New York, marked the formal beginning of the women’s suffrage movement. Organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, it produced the Declaration of Sentiments, calling for equal rights for women, including the right to vote.
National and International Organizations: Various organizations were formed to advocate for women’s suffrage, such as the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the U.S., and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

Major Milestones

New Zealand (1893): New Zealand became the first self-governing country to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Australia (1902): Australia granted women the right to vote in federal elections, although Indigenous women were excluded until much later.
United Kingdom: In the UK, women over 30 gained the right to vote in 1918, and in 1928, the voting age for women was lowered to 21, equalizing it with men.
United States (1920): The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting American women the right to vote.
Other Countries: Many countries followed suit in the early 20th century, including Canada (1917-1918), Germany (1918), and Sweden (1921).

Tactics and Strategies

Peaceful Protests and Petitions: Early efforts included peaceful protests, petitions, and lobbying. Suffragists like Susan B. Anthony used these methods to raise awareness and build support.
Civil Disobedience and Militant Tactics: Some suffrage groups, particularly in the UK under leaders like Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), adopted more militant tactics, including hunger strikes, demonstrations, and even acts of vandalism.

Opposition and Challenges

Social and Political Opposition: The suffrage movement faced significant opposition from those who believed women’s roles should be confined to the domestic sphere. Many argued that women lacked the capacity or need to participate in politics.
Internal Divisions: There were divisions within the movement itself over strategies, goals, and the inclusion of other social issues, such as racial equality and labor rights.

Legacy and Impact

Legal and Social Changes: The success of the women’s suffrage movement led to significant legal and social changes, including increased political participation by women and greater advocacy for women’s rights in other areas.
Continued Advocacy: While the right to vote was a major milestone, the broader fight for gender equality continued, influencing later feminist movements in the mid-to-late 20th century and beyond.