Explore posts on people and organizations!

This section introduces readers to both champions and opponents of suffrage extension. This may mean little more than the bare bones story of an individual or organization, although at least one bibliographic reference is included. As with other posts, we limit contributions to 500 words, a length sufficient we hope to introduce the subject without pretending to be comprehensive. We have begun with better-known contributors to campaigns. We welcome additions. If readers have special family or other knowledge about participants, we would be particularly happy to include it as part of the recovery to which this site is dedicated.

Leymah Gbowee

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Gbowee was born in Liberia and in her teens was deeply influenced by that nation’s descent into civil war. Married with children, she faced near starvation as a young mother. She became increasingly committed to Christian peace activism and earned an undergraduate degree at Mother Patern College of Health Sciences. She used her training to help child soldiers and helped organize the Women in Peacebuilding Network and the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, which brought together Christians and Muslims.

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Tawakkol Karman

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Tawakkol (spelling varies) Karman was born into a prominent political family in Yemen and is married and the mother of three children. She has an undergraduate degree in commerce and a graduate degree in political science. Karman is a prominent Yemini human rights activist, journalist, and co-founder of Women Journalists without Chains (2005).

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Ellen Johnson was born to an ethnically mixed family in difficult circumstances in Monrovia. She studied economics and accounting at the College of West Africa and completed a Master of Public Administration at Harvard in 1971. She married at age 17 and has four sons. In the 1970s she worked for the Liberian government in a period of great political turbulence.

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John Campbell Gordon

by Veronica Strong-Boag

The Earl of Aberdeen has been best known as the British Viceroy of Ireland (1886; 1905-1915) and Governor General of Canada (1893-96). His grandfather, Lord Aberdeen, had been prime minister of the United Kingdom and his family were leading landlords in eastern Scotland. Deaths of a father and two older brothers brought him unexpectedly to the title in 1870. This Gordon was also a Victorian and Edwardian feminist and suffragist. He developed that allegiance as a result of his evangelical, scientific, and political faith and his marriage to Ishbel Marjoribanks (1857-1939) in 1877. A progressive Presbyterian, he was deeply influenced by the social gospel of his day and a supporter of foreign and domestic missions, settlement houses, urban renewal, children’s welfare, and labour unions.

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Ishbel Marie Marjoribanks Gordon

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Ishbel, commonly referred to after her marriage in 1877 to John Campbell Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, as the Countess of Aberdeen, was born the third of five children and the second daughter of an ambitious and wealthy family with connections to Scotland and India. As a teenager she was deeply influenced by the Protestant social gospel, as evident for example in the early settlement house movement, and determined to apply its message of hard work and individual responsibility to her own life. Barred from Girton College, Cambridge, by her family’s determination that she marry well, she nevertheless had tutors who ensured her fluency in French and German and she took up a lifetime of self-education.

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Seneca Falls Convention of 1848

by Genevieve LeBaron

Standing at the opening of the world’s first women’s rights convention, at the front of the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19, 1848, the convention’s main organizer Elizabeth Cady Stanton declared that the time had come for public action, to inaugurate, as she later recalled, “the greatest rebellion the world has ever seen.”  For the next two days, three hundred people met to discuss not only the social and civil condition and rights of women, but also their political rights, particularly the right to vote. When the meeting was over, one hundred people had signed Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments—patterned after the Declaration of Independence—which detailed the “injuries and usurpations” that men had inflicted onto women.

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Margaret Thatcher

by Veronica Strong-Boag

In 2011, the film, “The Iron Lady,” directed and written by and starring a woman, reignited longstanding controversy about Britain’s first female prime minister. Once again feminists wondered what to make of her and the social and print media went wild with debate.

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Kim Campbell

by Genevieve LeBaron

Canada’s first and only female prime minister, in office for only four months (June 25, 1993 to November 4, 1993), Kim Campbell has long been a subject of feminist debates about representation, gender, and politics in Canada. She was also its first female Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and Minister of National Defence, in the latter case a first in NATO as well. As the first woman to have held office in all three levels of government (municipal, provincial, and federal), Campbell is often heralded as trailblazer for women. When Campbell appeared before her volunteers after being elected leader of the Conservative Party, they started chanting “Four more years!” Campbell shook her head and yelled “Ten more years!”—reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s promise to take the British Conservative Party into the next millennium.

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Hilary Rodham Clinton

by Genevieve LeBaron

In the late 1990s, many in the United States loved to hate then First Lady Hillary Clinton. Indeed, after her husband Bill had been president for four years, scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in 1996 that “Hillary-hating has become one of those national pastimes which unite the elite and the lumpen.” The same year, historian Garry Wills noted, “Hillary Hate is a large-scale psychic phenomenon. At the Republican convention there was a dismemberment doll on sale. For twenty dollars you could buy a rag-doll Hillary with arms and legs made to tear off and throw on the floor” (as quoted in Kohrs 1998: 1). Talk shows were full of speculation about Clinton’s purported lesbianism and drug use andThe Nation declared, early in her husband’s presidency, that the country had a “quasi-pornographic obsession” with Hillary (17 May 1993). Clinton’s U.S. Senate election campaigns in 2000 and 2006 brought little relief from the onslaught.

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