Asia

Asia’s boundaries are fluid, its nations and populations numerous and diverse. Human rights have flourished in a few settings but ethnic, religious, ‘racial’, and colonial histories regularly curtail opportunity as they do elsewhere. Imperialism takes its own forms as well.  China and Japan have often been hugely influential, even as they have experienced western efforts at domination at points in their histories. This region has also produced some of the earliest democratically-elected leaders, such as Ceylon’s (Sri Lanka’s) Sirimavo Bandaranaike the world’s first female prime minister in 1960.  Like many female ‘firsts’, she was the widow of the previous incumbent, her husband who was assassinated in 1959.  In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto became the eleventh Prime Minister in 1988, heir to her executed father, the former prime minister, Bulfikar Ali Bhutto. She was in turn assassinated in 2007 but her privileged family, major landlords, continues politically powerful.  Such family connections, much like those of Hilary and Bill Clinton, remind us that kinship always matters when it comes to politics all around the world.

Asia Suffrage Timeline

Right to Vote
Right to Stand for Election
Armenia
February 2nd, 1921 February 2nd, 1921
Azerbaijan
May 19th, 1921 May 19th, 1921
Bahrain
October 24th, 2002 October 24th, 2002
Bangladesh
November 4th, 1972 November 4th, 1972
Bhutan
1953 1953
Brunei
Men/women not allowed to vote since 1962. Men/women not allowed to stand for election since 1962.
Cambodia
September 25th, 1955 September 25th, 1955
China (People’s Republic)
October 1st, 1949
(also granted in 1911 after revolution)
October 1st, 1949
China (Republic of)/Taiwan
1947
Cyprus
August 16th, 1960 August 16th, 1960
Georgia
November 22nd, 1918 November 22nd, 1918
India
January 26th, 1950 January 26th, 1950
Indonesia
August 17th, 1945 August 17th, 1945
Japan
December 12th, 1945*/February 24th, 1947** December 12th, 1945*/February 24th, 1947**
Japan Notes
*”For the House of Representatives” (p. 202). **”For the House of Councillors” (p. 202).
Jordan
1974* 1974*
Jordan Notes
“Women actually exercised the right to vote and stand for election for the first time in 1989″ (p. 206).
Kazakhstan
January 31st, 1924 January 31st, 1924
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
July 30th, 1946 July 30th, 1946
Republic of Korea
July 17th, 1948 July 17th, 1948
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
June 1918 June 1918
Laos
1958 1958
Lebanon
1952 1952
Malaysia
August 31st, 1957 August 31st, 1957
Maldives
1932 1932
Mongolia
November 1st, 1924 November 1st, 1924
Myanmar
1935 March 19th, 1946
Nepal
1951 1951
Oman
1997 1997
Pakistan
1947 1947
Philippines
April 30th, 1937 April 30th, 1937
Qatar
1999 1999
Saudia Arabia
2015 Municipal Elections (expected) 2015 Municipal Elections (expected)
Singapore
July 18th, 1947 July 18th, 1947
Sri Lanka
March 20th, 1931 March 20th, 1931
Syria
September 10th, 1949* 1953
Syria Notes
“women who had reached a sixth-grade educational level; it was then extended to all literate women, and in 1953 all educational restrictions on voting were lifted for women” (p. 371).
Tajikistan
1924 1924
Thailand
December 10th, 1932 December 10th, 1932
Turkey
April 3rd, 1930 December 5th, 1934
Turkmenistan
1927 1927
United Arab Emirates
2006 2006
Uzbekistan
1938 1938
Vietnam
January 6th, 1946 January 6th, 1946
Yemen
1967 (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen)/
1970 (Arab Republic of Yemen)
1967 (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen)/
1970 (Arab Republic of Yemen)

Resources

Agnes, Flavia. 1999. Law and Gender Inequality: the Politics of Women’s Rights in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Aguilar, Carmencita T. 1990. “Women in politics in the Philippines.” Philippine political science journal, 29/30,  39-74.

Alwis, Malathi de. 1998. “Motherhood as a space of protest, women’s political participation in contemporary Sri Lanka.” In Appropriating gender. Eds. Patricia Jeffery, Amrita Basu, London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 185-202.

Alzona, Encarnacion. 1954. The Filipino woman : her social, economic and political status, 1565-1937 Manila : Benipayo Press.

Darcy, R. and David L. Nixon. 1996. “Women in the 1946 and 1993 Japanese House of Representatives elections : The role of the election system.” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, 15:3. 3-19.

Emadi, Hafizullah. 2000. “Breaking the shackles : political participation of Hazara women in Afghanistan,” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies. 6:1, 143-161.

Gilmartin, Christina K. 1995.  Engendering the Chinese revolution : radical women, communist politics, and mass movements in the 1920s Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Haque, M. Shamsul. 2000. “Representation of women in governance in Singapore : trends and problems.” Asian journal of political science, 8:2. 59-87.

Howell, Jude. 2002. “Women’s political participation in China: struggling to hold up half the sky.” Parliamentary affairs, 55:1. 43-56.

Khor, Diana. 1999. “Organizing for change: women’s grassroots activism in Japan.” Feminist studies, 25:3. 633-661.

Kubo, Kimiko. 1994. “Obstacles and opportunities : women and political participation in Japan.” in Women of Japan and Korea. Eds. Joyce Gelb, Marian Lief, Palley. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 120-149.

Lenneberg, Cornelia. 1994. “Women and political leadership in India : able politicians or token presences?” Asian studies review, 17:3. 6-13.

Ng, Catherine W. and Evelyn G.H. Ng. 2002. “The concept of state feminism and the case for Hong Kong,” Asian journal of women’s studies, 8:1. 7-37.

Robinson, Catherine A. 1999. Tradition and liberation, the Hindu tradition in the Indian women’s movement. Richmond : Curzon,

Roces, Mina. 1998. Women, power, and kinship politics: female power in post-war Philippines. Westport, Conn. : Praeger.

Soh, Chung-Hee Sarah. 1993. “Sexual equality, male superiority, and Korean women in politics, changing gender relations in a ‘patriarchal democracy’”.  Sex Roles, 28:1/2. 73-90.

Sorabji, Richard. 2010. Opening Doors: the Untold Story of Cornelia Sorabji, Reformer, Lawyer and Champion of Women’s Rights in India. London: I.B. Tauris & Co..

Tachi, Kaoru. 1995. “Women’s suffrage and the state : gender and politics in pre-war Japan.” in Feminism and the state in modern Japan . Ed. Vera Mackie. Melbourne : Japanese Studies Centre. 16-30.

Thompson, Mark R. 2002. “Female leadership of democratic transitions in Asia.” Pacific Affairs, 75:4. 535-555