Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The right to vote | The Small Desk

Here in the UK the general election is almost upon us: you can't turn on the TV without seeing an electoral candidate holding a baby! Whilst many of us feel ambivalent about who to vote for and are not convinced an individual vote makes a difference, we must remember that we are lucky to have a choice, especially us women! I thought it might be interesting to share with you some twentieth and twenty-first century info on just how recently certain sections of the population have been allowed to vote, to remind you how lucky we are to have the right to vote.

The last place specifically* women CANNOT vote: 
  • Saudi Arabia
Women have still not had the right to vote in Saudi Arabia; however they are meant to be allowed to vote in this year's municipal elections (date to be determined). Some women fear there may be an excuse made not to let this happen, but here's hoping.

Countries that surprised me were so late to give women the vote:
  • Switzerland didn't give women the vote until 1971.
  • Portugal was even later and didn't give women the vote until 1976. (Made possible by the Revolution of 1974).

Was Britain the first to give women the right to vote?
  • No! New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States all gave women the vote before Britain did.
  • Britain granted women the vote in 1928**. This means that my great aunt Edna, who was born in 1907, would have been one of the youngest women in Britain ever to have the vote! 
Edna, possibly aged 21, and my Grandfather, possibly aged 18

Who gave women the vote first and when?
  • New Zealand in 1893.

(Shocking) Right to vote based on ethnic origins: 
  • Australia did not grant the aborigines the right to vote until 1962.
  • Black South Africans did not gain the right to vote until 1994.

These are the people who cannot vote in the UK in this election:
  • members of the House of Lords
  • EU citizens resident in the UK
  • prisoners
For more information, click here.

Finally: if you live in the UK and you still don't know who to vote for this website can help you decide:

I realise many of my readers are not based in the UK, therefore will not be having to make this decision, but when you have the opportunity to vote in your country please do so, as it is a privilege that so many have fought for.

This post is dedicated to my great aunt Edna (1907–2008)

*Brunei, the UAE and Vatican City have restrictions on both genders.
** In 1918 women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification were allowed to vote, but it was very restrictive.
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