Europe

The origins of women’s rights are often associated with this region. From very different perspectives both capitalist and communist nations have regularly claimed to lead. The Nordic countries, sometimes quizzically referred to as the ‘magical kingdoms’ because of their social advances, are often celebrated. In fact, feminism’s progress here has been uneven.  Equally unfortunately, supposed superiority in the status of women has sometimes provided an excuse for European adventurism in other parts of the globe, in India in the past and in Afghanistan in the present, to give only two examples. Imperially-mined European women, like others in North America, sometimes operated from the same assumption of superiority when they founded the first international women’s groups, such as the International Council of Women (1888), the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1904) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1915). That unhappy connection should not, however, obscure significant advances in women’s political rights in the region since the 19th century and the valuable work done by such global ‘sisterhoods.’ They and their successors are largely responsible for the achievement of UN Women today.

Europe Suffrage Timeline

Right to Vote
Right to Stand for Election
Albania
1920 1920
Andora
April 14th, 1970 September 5th, 1973
Armenia
February 2nd, 1921 February 2nd, 1921
Austria
December 19th, 1918 December 19th, 1918
Azerbaijan
May 19th, 1921 May 19th, 1921
Belarus
February 4th, 1919 February 4th, 1919
Belgium
May 9th, 1919*/March 27th, 1948** February 7th, 1921*/March 27th, 1948**
Belgium Notes
*”Right to vote in national elections to the widows and mothers of servicemen killed in World War I, to the widows and mothers of citizens shot or killed by the enemy, and to female political prisoners who had been held by the enemy” (p. 34). **Right to vote extended to “all women… with the same conditions applied to men” (p. 34).
Bosnia and Herzegovina
January 31st, 1949 January 31st, 1949
Bulgaria
October 16th, 1944 October 16th, 1944
Croatia
August 11th, 1945 August 11th, 1945
Cyprus
August 16th, 1960 August 16th, 1960
Czech Republic
1920 1920
Denmark
1908 (local authorities)/
June 5th, 1915
1908 (local authorities)/
June 5th, 1915
Estonia
November 24th, 1918 November 24th, 1918
Finland
July 20th, 1906 July 20th, 1906
France
April 21st, 1944 April 21st, 1944
Georgia
November 22nd, 1918 November 22nd, 1918
Germany
November 12th, 1918 November 12th, 1918
Greece
January 1st, 1952 January 1st, 1952
Hungary
1918 1918
Iceland
June 19th, 1915 June 19th, 1915
Ireland
June 2nd, 1918 (Women over 30 years of age)/
July 2nd 1928
June 2nd, 1918 (Women over 30 years of age)/
July 2nd 1928
Italy
February 1st, 1945 February 1st, 1945
Kazakhstan
January 31st, 1924 January 31st, 1924
Latvia
November 18th, 1918 December 18th, 1918
Liechtenstein*
July 1st, 1984 July 1st, 1984
Liechtenstein Notes
Last country in Europe to grant women suffrage.
Lithuania
October 5th, 1921 October 5th, 1921
Luxembourg
May 15th, 1919 May 15ht, 1919
Macedonia
December 31st, 1946 December 31st, 1946
Malta
September 5th, 1947 September 5th, 1947
Moldova
April 4th, 1978 April 4th, 1978
Monaco
December 17th, 1962 December 17th, 1962
Netherlands
August 9th, 1919 November 29, 1917
Norway
1907* 1907*/1913
Norway Notes
*“Special conditions related to private mans, property, and income. Those restrictions were removed in 1913” (p. 289).
Poland
November 28th, 1918 November 28th, 1918
Portugal
May 5th, 1931* May 5th, 1931/
November 16th, 1934/
June 2nd, 1976
Portugal Notes
*“In 1931, women were given the right to vote and stand for election, with the restriction that they had to have completed secondary or higher education (men only had to know how to read and write). All citizens who were literate were granted the right to vote and stand for election in 1934. Some restrictions on women, however, remained for election to certain local administrative bodes under a l968 law. Full equality of the sexes with regard to the franchise and right of election to all bodies was achieved in 1976″ (p. 312).
Romania
1929*/
1946**
1929*/
July 1946**
Romania Notes
*”Restricted electoral rights” (p. 316). **”Under the same conditions as men” (p. 316).
Russia
June 1918 June 1918
San Marino
April 29th, 1959 September 10th, 1973
Slovakia
1920 1920
Slovenia
August 10th, 1945 August 10th, 1945
Spain
December 9th, 1931 May 8th, 1931
Sweden
1862/
1918 “local elections”/
May 1919 “granted”/
1921 “in effect”
1862/
1918 “local elections”/
May 1919 “granted”/
1921 “in effect”
Switzerland
February 7th, 1971 February 7th, 1971
Turkey
April 3rd, 1930 December 5th, 1934
Ukraine
March 10th, 1919 March 10th, 1919
United Kingdom
February 2nd, 1918 (“over 30 years of age”)/
July 2nd, 1928
February 2nd, 1918 (“over 30 years of age”)/
July 2nd, 1928

Resources

Dahlerup, Drude and Lenita Freidenwvall, et al. 2008. Electoral Gender Quota Systems and their Implementation in Europe.Women in Politics Centre. Stockholm University. http://www.europeanpwn.net/files/euquotaonderzoek.pdf

Freeman, Jane. 2002. “Women in the European Parliament.” Parliamentary Affairs. 55:1. 179-188.

Hellsten, Sirkku K., Anne M. Holli and Krassimira Daskalova, eds. 2005. Women’s Citizenship and Political Rights. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

LeGates, Marlene. 2001. In Their Time: A History of Feminism in Wesstern Society.  London: Routledge.

Lovenduski, Joni. 1986. Women and European Politics. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Mertus, Julie. “Human Rights of Women in Central and Eastern Europe.” Journal of Gender & the Law. 6. 368-484.

Mertus,Julie. 1999. “Women in Kosovo: Contested Terrains.” In Gender Politics in the Western Balkans. Ed. Sabrina P. Ramet (Philadelphia, Penn: Pennsylvania State University.

Norris, P. and J. Lovenduski (1995). Political Recruitment: Gender, Race and Class in the British

Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Offen, Karen. 2000. European Feminism 1700-1950: A Political History. Stanford University Press.

Raaum, N. C. (1999). ‘Women in Parliamentary Politics: Historical Lines of Development.” In C. Bergqvist, A Borchorst, A. Christensen, V. Ramstedt-Silén, N. C. Raaum and A. Styrkársdóttir (eds.), Equal Democracies? Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries, Olso: Scandinavian University Press.

Ravnbol, Camilla I. 2010. “The Human Rights of Minority Women: Romani Women’s Rights from a Perspective on International Human Rights Law and Politics.” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights. 17:1. 1-45.

Ruthchild, Rochelle G. 2010. Equality & Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917. Pttsburgh, Penn.: Univeristy of Pittsburgh Press.