A Closer Look at Women’s Voting Rights Around the World

Submitted by Marty Allison, Chair of the Girl Scouts of Colorado Global Action Team

As we recognize the centennial of the 19th amendment and the women’s suffrage movement, Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Global Action Team takes a closer look at women’s voting rights around the world .

Can you believe that in 1689 women landowners in the State of Friesland, what we call the Netherlands today, were first able to vote! Throughout history, women have had many restrictions to their right to vote. Age and marital status were just two of them. Younger men could vote before women could. Women could vote, but not run for elections. Single women or widows could only vote in local elections. A woman’s level of education might determine her eligibility to cast a vote. Or, how about how only mothers with legitimate children could vote in local elections? In South West Africa, only white women could vote and not the native African women. In 1945 in the Dutch East Indies, Indonesia today, only European women could vote. In Liberia, Africa, in 1946 indigenous men and women did not get to vote until 1951 while American women could vote much earlier than that.

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in 1952, they enacted the Convention of the Political Rights of Women. But, still it was 1962 before Australia allowed Aboriginal men and women to vote when South Australian women of European descent were able to vote way back in 1894!
In Kuwait, women were able to vote in 1985, but it was revoked in 1999 only to regain the vote in 2005. In Afghanistan, the Taliban revoked women’s right to vote in 1996 and after their fall in 2001, women regained the right to vote. Saudi Arabian women gained the right to vote in local elections in 2015 and be appointed to local positions.

While we celebrate 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the United States, we also take a closer look at the history of women of color’s voting rights. Did you know . . .

  • Full exercise of Black voting rights was intended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Native American women were largely excluded from voting before the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924; some states and localities still passed laws effectively barring Natives from voting until the late 1940s.
  • Not until the late 1940s and 1950s were restrictions on Asian American voting removed.

Today, we are proud that women in all of the 150 countries of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) (https://www.wagggs.org/en/our-world/) have the right to vote!

Resources

Interested in joining the Global Action Team? Email GSCO staff liaison, Aimee Artzer, at aimee.artzer@gscolorado.org.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.