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When Women got the Vote: Did you Know...?

Posted on April 30 2014

Not that we want to will away summer or anything, but word has it that 'Suffragette', the first movie to address the British women's rights movement of the early 20th century, is coming out next year- and we're pretty excited!

The film, featuring Meryl Streep starring as Emmeline Pankhurst, documents the  foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. 

So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, we took a trip  back in time. Back to the origins of the movement for women's suffrage and the various differences internationally!  

The women that fought for their right to be recognised cleverly used clothing to their advantage, combining style with substance, to create a powerful collective image and early form of fashion activism. Read all about Suffragette fashion- HERE!


Did you know...?

  • The Pacific colony of Franceville, declaring independence in 1889, became the first self-governing nation to adopt universal suffrage without distinction of sex or colour, however, it soon came back under French and British colonial rule.
  • Of currently existing independent countries, New Zealand was the first to acknowledge women's right to vote in 1893 when it was a self-governing British colony.
  • The first European country to introduce women's suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1906. It was among reforms passed following the 1905 uprising. As a result of the 1907 parliamentary elections, Finland's voters elected 19 women as the first female members of a representative parliament, they took their seats later that year.
  • In the years before World War I, women in Norway (1913) and Denmark (1915) also won the right to vote, as did women in the remaining Australian states. Near the end of the war, Canada, RussiaGermany, and Poland also recognized women's right to vote. British women over 30 had the vote in 1918, Dutch women in 1919, and American women won the vote August 26, 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Irish women won the same voting rights as men in the Irish Free State constitution, 1922.
  • Italy was behind, only passing the vote in 1966 along with Greece which didn't grant unconditional vote for women until 1952.
  • Israel- 1948 – women’s suffrage was granted with the declaration of independence.
  • Iran – 1963
  • Iraq - 1980
  • Central African Republic – 1986
  • Bahrain – 2002
  • Oman - 2003


  • The campaign for female suffrage began in earnest in the mid-19th century.
  • In 1881 the Isle of Man, an internally self-governing dependent territory of the British Crown, enfranchised women property owners. With this it provided the first action for women's suffrage within the British Isles. 
  • 6th February 1918 – right to vote granted, but only to women over 30 who lived in a home that earnt a high enough ‘yearly value’ and women who had been to university. 
  • It wasn't until 1928 that the voting age for women was lowered to 21 in line with men.
  • They had the support of liberal intellectuals such as John Stuart Mill, who campaigned for women's suffrage in parliament.


  • The seed for the first Woman's Rights Convention in the United States was planted in 1840, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The conference refused to seat Mott and other women delegates from the United States of America because of their sex. In 1851, Stanton met temperance worker Susan B. Anthony, and shortly the two would be joined in the long struggle to secure the vote for women in the United States.
  • 1920 The right to vote was fully granted.