One hundred years ago, women in the United Kingdom gained the right to vote, and today, most women in the developed world are enfranchised. But in many developing countries, the resistance that British suffragettes faced a century ago, rooted in misogyny, persists. This is certainly true in Pakistan, where the general election set for July 25, provides an ideal opportunity to advocate for change. At first glance, Pakistan seems progressive. The law has permitted women to vote since 1956, almost a decade after independence from Britain. Since then, the number of women in parliament has steadily increased, aided by a 33 per cent quota and rules dictating how many women must be included on party lists.
As Zimbabwe prepares for a general election in 2018, rights activists are criticizing the government’s decision to reintroduce a proof of residence requirement for voter registration, saying it disenfranchises a large number of potential voters – many of them women. After proposals to relax the rules on proof of residence drew criticism from various political parties, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in June reinstated the requirement that all voters must produce a document confirming their permanent address before they can register to vote. But activists say the move disqualifies anyone who doesn’t have a fixed address, doesn’t own property or simply can’t get hold of the necessary documentation.
France voted a record number of women into parliament, election results showed on Monday, after President Emmanuel Macron’s victorious Republic on the Move (LREM) party fielded a gender-balanced candidate list. Of the 577 newly elected lawmakers, 223 were female, beating the previous record of 155 set after the last election. That sent France leapfrogging from 64th to 17th in the world rankings of female parliamentary representation and to 6th place in Europe, overtaking Britain and Germany, according to Inter-parliamentary Union data compiled at the start of June. LREM, which won an overwhelming majority in Sunday’s ballot, had the highest proportion of women elected, at 47 percent.
… Women in Switzerland didn’t get the vote until 1971. The men of Switzerland, over and over, exercised their democratic right to deny voting rights to their mothers, daughters, and sisters. They had time to change their minds. Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Swiss adult males began gathering in town squares for public balloting in 1291. To this day, to amend the national constitution, the entire nation must vote. Democracy in Switzerland is direct—and bottom up. Constitutional rights aren’t changed by legislators; change requires national referendums. Since the 1880s Swiss women, in growing numbers, had asked the voters—meaning men—to give them the vote. And the men kept saying no, which, in a direct democracy, is their right. Democracy and progress aren’t always friends.
Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment (ratified on August 18, 1920).
Full Text of the 19th Amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Constitution has never prohibited women from voting and for many years before the adoption of this amendment women did vote in several states. The 19th amendment established a uniform rule for all states to follow in guaranteeing women this right. The states ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 after a long campaign by advocates, who achieved limited success changing state laws. The women’s suffrage movement started in the era of the Andrew Jackson administration.
Tokyo has elected its first female governor to take charge of the city amid troubled 2020 Olympic Games preparations after a foul-mouthed campaign of misogyny and mudslinging. Yuriko Koike claimed victory after exit polls and early vote counts pointed to a strong lead for the former defence and environment minister. “I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen,” she said in a voice slightly hoarse after two weeks of campaigning. The election, which was contested by a record field of 21 candidates in a city home to 13.6 million people, was called after the previous governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, resigned over a financial scandal involving the use of public funds to pay for lavish hotels and spa trips.
Japan: Politics a man’s world in Japan as few females stand in 2016 Upper House election | The Japan Times
A key issue female Japanese voters focus on in election season is whether the men who dominate politics are serious about welcoming more women to their ranks. More female lawmakers are needed to speak for Japanese women at a time when the nation faces challenges such as an acute shortage of places at children’s day care facilities. Out of 389 candidates in Sunday’s Upper House election, 96 are women, down nine from the Upper House election three years ago. The ratio of female candidates to males is up by 0.5 percentage point to 24.7 percent because the overall number of people running has fallen from 433 to 389.
Iran’s new parliament will have more women than clerics when its members are sworn in this month, a first in the Islamic republic and a sign of the country’s evolving politics. Official results Saturday showed that reformist and moderate politicians allied with President Hassan Rouhani won a big victory in second round parliamentary elections. The outcome saw them outnumber their conservative rivals — many hardliners lost seats — for the first time since 2004 and capped a remarkable comeback for reformists after years of isolation.
With reformist-backed candidates securing a sweeping victory in Tehran, and moderates leading in provinces, a record number of women are set to enter the next Iranian parliament. Estimates based on the latest results show that as many as 20 women are likely to enter the 290-seat legislature known as the Majlis, the most ever. The previous record was set nearly 20 years ago during the fifth parliament after the 1979 revolution, when 14 women held seats. There are nine women in the current Iranian parliament. Eight of the women elected this time were on a reformist-backed list of 30 candidates standing in the Tehran constituency known as “the list of hope”. Among them is Parvaneh Salahshori, a 51-year-old sociologist and university professor originally from Masjed Soleyman, in the south of Iran. Her husband, Barat Ghobadian, also a university professor, was disqualified from running. As the results were being counted, an interview surfaced online showing Salahshori speaking out about discrimination against women in Iran, pleasing many women’s rights advocates. She also said women should be able to choose whether or not to wear the hijab, a taboo subject in the Islamic Republic.
An aspiring female candidate in Nauru Ann Hubert says cultural barriers are holding women back from being involved in politics in the country. Elections are to be held later this year, and the United Nations has held a series of workshops hoping to increase the participation of women. Ms Hubert says women are more educated than men in Nauru, but both women and men see Parliament as a man’s job. “When it came to the actual polling day, it just went back to like voting for the men. Because either your parents wanted you too, or because your husband told you to vote, and then it went back to the cultural, it’s the man that you should vote for, because they should be running the country, not the women.”
Saudi Arabia has elected its first female local councillors in a historic step for a country where women are banned from driving and face routine discrimination. Results from Saturday’s municipal council elections indicated there were about 17 female winners. These included four in Jeddah, one near Mecca – home to Islam’s holiest site – and others in Tabuk, Ahsaa and Qatif. Several more, reported by al-Sabq online newspaper, were expected to be confirmed later. Rasha Hefzi, a prominent businesswoman who won a seat in Jeddah, thanked all those who supported her campaign and trusted her, pledging: “What we have started, we will continue.” Hefzi and other candidates used social media to contact voters because of restrictions on women meeting men and bans on both sexes using photographs.
Saudi women have won seats on municipal councils in a landmark election that allowed them to run for office and vote for the first time.
The official Saudi Press Agency said at least eight women who vied in Saturday’s election will be seated on local councils. Al Arabiya television reported at least 12. A total of 7,000 candidates, male and female, contested 2,100 seats. Official results are expected later Sunday. King Abdullah ordered the inclusion of women in municipal elections — the only nationwide vote in the absolute monarchy – before he died in January. He also named women to the 150-member Consultative Council and opened more areas of the labor market to them as part of a gradual easing of restrictions on their role in society and the economy.
Saudi Arabian women voted for the first time on Saturday in local council elections and also stood as candidates, a step hailed by some activists in the Islamic patriarchy as a historic change, but by others as merely symbolic. “As a first step it is a great achievement. Now we feel we are part of society, that we contribute,” said Sara Ahmed, 30, a physiotherapist entering a polling station in north Riyadh. “We talk a lot about it, it’s a historic day for us.” The election, which follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011, is for two thirds of seats on councils that previously had only advisory powers, but will now have a limited decision making role in local government. This incremental expansion of voting rights has spurred some Saudis to hope the Al Saud ruling family, which appoints the national government, will eventually carry out further reforms to open up the political system.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi women are voting and running for office for the first time | The Washington Post
One candidate wants more recycling. A rival envisions community centers with day care. How about creating Western-style public libraries? asks another. These are hardly the rallying cries of revolutionaries. But, in the ultraconservative context of Saudi Arabia, such appeals are breaking new ground: They are coming from some of the more than 900 female candidates in the kingdom’s first nationwide election in which women are able to run — and vote. The balloting Saturday for municipal council seats across the kingdom — from Riyadh’s chaotic sprawl to oil-rich outposts — marks a cautious step forward in a nation where social change does not come easily. It must always pass muster through a ruling system that may be Western-allied but still answers to a religious establishment very wary of bold moves, particularly regarding the role of women. Women still cannot drive. They must receive a male guardian’s permission to travel abroad alone, and they face other daily reminders of Saudi Arabia’s strict brand of Islam and the state’s punishing stance against any open dissent. “Saudi Arabia has done a great PR job in selling these elections as part of much-touted reforms,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a Washington-based political affairs group. “The reality is that not much changes.”
Up to 50 women in Zanzibar have been divorced for taking part in the recent Tanzanian elections against the wishes of their husbands, according to lawyers and women’s rights campaigners. Mzuri Issa, coordinator of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, said 47 women were divorced for voting contrary to their husband’s orders in a tightly fought ballot that remains undecided. Issa added some women did not take part in the election for fear of being divorced or for fear of violence, while others complained that they were forced to cast ballots for candidates they did not support. The divorces were confirmed by the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZFLA) and the Mwanakerekwe district Kadhi court in Zanzibar. “Some of the women were not allowed by their husband to vote but those who refused to see their right trampled on were either divorced or abandoned,” Issa told reporters.
Hundreds of Saudi women began campaigning for public office on Sunday, in a first for women in the conservative kingdom’s slow reform process – even as two activists were disqualified. More than 900 women are standing alongside thousands of men in the 12 December municipal ballot, which will also mark the first time that women inSaudi Arabia are allowed to vote. “I’ve been eliminated as a candidate for the municipal elections,” Loujain Hathloul said in a message on Twitter. “I will be filing my objection via the appropriate channels.” Saudi authorities detained Hathloul for more than two months after she tried to drive into the kingdom last December from the United Arab Emirates, in defiance of a Saudi ban on women driving. She could not immediately be reached but earlier told Agence France-Presse that she wanted to run “to increase the percentage of women’s participation”.
At least 120 female candidates out of a total 1,019 running for Saudi Arabian municipal council elections have withdrawn their candidatures, according to the spokesman for the National Committee for Municipal Elections Jidai al-Qahtani who was quoted on Tuesday in Arabic daily al-Hayat. He said the total number of candidates stood at 7,380, but a total of 384 candidates have withdrawn. Fifty of the candidates who withdrew were from Riyadh. The last day for withdrawal in Riyadh was on Thursday 19 Nov. All remaining candidates are required to go through the fourth phase and campaign for their election.
When voter registration opened in August, few of Rana’s friends noticed, and the 25-year-old recent college graduate drew curious looks when she brought it up. None of them were planning to participate in Saudi Arabia’s Dec. 12 municipal elections — the first vote in which women will be allowed to stand as voters and candidates. “My friends know about the election, but they are not excited about it,” she recalled on an October afternoon from her office in a Jeddah PR company. “They didn’t register [to vote].” Rana had felt differently. Sure, it was a small step, and maybe little would come of it. But she was insistent. “We need women to get into this process,” she told her friends and family — and herself. “Women can do things for society.” But in Rana’s case, those things don’t include registering to vote. Rana ticked off the many obstacles she encountered. The window for registration was too brief, the documentation required too onerous, and her legal guardian — which all Saudi women require for even the most basic bureaucratic chores — wasn’t around to arrange her paperwork. And her family, inclined to think of politics as a man’s domain, discouraged her efforts.
Voting rights for Saudi women took another step forward this week. Female candidates began registering to run in upcoming municipal elections — and for the first time, women will be able to vote for them. Voter registration began in mid-August and goes through mid-September. Sunday marked the start of candidate registration for the Dec. 12 municipal elections. The developments came ahead of King Salman’s visit to the White House on Friday, when he and President Barack Obama are expected to discuss counterterrorism efforts, the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and the Iran nuclear agreement.
Wednesday marks the 95th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. At the same time, one of the last countries to deny women the vote is preparing to open its polls: this December, women will vote in Saudi Arabia for the first time. This achievement, like the ones that came before it, wasn’t handed to Saudi women, who have been pressuring their government for years. Around the world, women have only won suffrage because they’ve demanded it. “There’s no other movement for women’s rights that’s as international as votes for women,” says Ellen DuBois, distinguished professor of history and gender studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. A century ago, American women were deep into their own chapter of the movement—and closing in on victory. The first international votes for women came sporadically during the 19th century. Women in Sweden and Scotland won some local voting rights, and Great Britain opened local elections—but only to unmarried women who also owned property. Then, in 1893, women in New Zealand won the full right to vote.
Saudi Arabia: Women are registering to vote in elections across the country for the first time ever | The Independent
Women are registering to vote in national elections for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia. In what the kingdom’s officials describe as a “significant milestone in progress towards a participation-based society”, municipal elections will be held across the country later this year. And in a remarkable move for a country where women’s rights are severely limited, women have been allowed to both vote and stand for election themselves. According to the Saudi Gazette, two women named Jamal Al-Saadi and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat became the first to register as voters in their country’s history when they arrived at the opening of electoral offices in Madinah and Makkah respectively on Sunday.
Election authorities in Pakistan today nullified the results of a by-election held in a remote district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last month that barred women from exercising their right to vote. Masroor Shah, a lawyer representing human rights activists and who challenged the legality of the elections, said that Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Raza Khan has declared the by-elections of Lower Dir null and void and has ordered new elections. “Women from Dir have testified before the three-member inquiry commission that they were not allowed to vote,” Shah said. “The announcements had been made from a mosque’s loud speakers to stop women from participating in the elections.”
In some of the most socially conservative regions of Pakistan this weekend’s local government elections will be men-only affairs. Local politicians and elders say parties contesting elections for district and village council seats in Hangu and parts of Malakand, districts of the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), have struck deals barring women from voting. There are fears of similar arrangements across KP, a province bordering Afghanistan where many Pashtun communities observe purdah traditions so strict that many female candidates do not publish photographs on election posters.
United Kingdom: Women are at risk of falling off the electoral register – and out of the political debate | The New Statesman
As we take the time to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women today, it’s important to recognise the low turnout of women at the last general election. A study carried out by the ‘House of Commons Library at the request of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, showed that 9.1 million women didn’t turn out to vote in the 2010 general election’. The number of women turning up to vote has declined over the years. In 2005 and 2010 there were more male voters than female. Furthermore, 64 per cent of women voted in the last general election, compared to 67 per cent of men. The difference is even wider amongst younger voters with only 39 per cent of young women voting compared to 50 per cent of young men. The general election on 7 May is going to be crucial and the number of women that turn up to vote will certainly make an impact on which political party gains power. It’s therefore really important that women turn out to vote. It is alarming to read that in 2015 that the turnout gap between sexes is getting wider, with women falling further behind when it comes to voting.
As Tunisia prepares for the October 26th legislative elections, the small number of women at the head of the electoral lists is drawing criticism. According to thinker and human rights activist Amel Grami, “the left meets the right” when it comes to the role of women in politics. “Here, ideological affiliations become absent,” she said. “Gender takes prevalence over other criteria such as competence, energy, and integrity.” During the ratification of the new Tunisian constitution in February, Ennahda rejected voting in favour of what is known as “horizontal sharing”, that is, the number of male heads of electoral lists should be equal to the number of female heads. Meanwhile, liberal and leftist parties are waging a battle for women’s right to equality with men in decision making positions. However, it appears that the progressive parties have rejected women from the first election event.
The Saudi Council of Ministers approved late Monday the Law of Municipal Councils that grants women equal rights with men to vote and contest municipal elections. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja said that the Cabinet took the decision after reviewing a report presented by Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and a Shoura Council decision. The councils will have not more than 30 members, including two-third of elected members and one-third nominated by the minister.
With fears that women’s rights are being eroded in Iraq, prospective female lawmakers are determined to push women’s issues to the fore of campaigning for this month’s elections. Despite a constitutional requirement that a quarter of all MPs be women, Iraq lags on key indicators such as female employment and literacy, and there is a bill before parliament that opponents say dramatically curtails women’s rights. Also at issue ahead of 30 April elections are high levels of violence against women, discrimination at the workplace and poor school attendance. “I did not expect that we will fight for women’s rights in this country,” said Inam Abdul Majed, a television news presenter and an election hopeful running in Baghdad. “I wanted to fight for better education, better services, better life conditions… But we are in this big trouble now, and it is a primary problem to be solved.”
Mariam Wardak is one of those young Afghans with her feet in two worlds: At 28, she has spent much of her adult life in Afghanistan, but she grew up in the United States after her family fled there. She vividly remembers the culture shock of visits back to her family’s village in rural Wardak Province a decade ago. “A woman wouldn’t even show her face to her brother-in-law living in the same house for 25 years,” she said. “People would joke that if someone kidnapped our ladies, we would have to find them from their voices. Now women in Wardak show their faces — they see everybody else’s faces.” Ms. Wardak’s mother, Zakia, is a prime example. She used to wear a burqa in public, but now has had her face printed on thousands of ballot pamphlets for the provincial council in Wardak. She campaigns in person in a district, Saydabad, that is thick with Taliban.
Republican attempts to use voter identification laws to suppress voting by people more likely to vote for Democrats has created a class of victims it probably was not intended for. Women. Even Republican women. The GOP has tried to thinly veil its efforts by claiming that voter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but the figures on voter fraud — which is almost nil everywhere — show that to be a phony excuse. The real reason is to make voting more difficult for blacks, Hispanics, the young, the elderly and the poor, who traditionally tend to vote for Democrats. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in June, several states raced to put new voter ID laws into effect. Attention initially focused on the way such laws affected African-Americans and Hispanics. Now the focus of concern is on women. To quote the governor of Texas, a state that’s making harder for women to vote, “Oops.”
Some states that have tightened their voter identification laws are using workarounds to avoid voting problems for women whose names have changed because of marriage or divorce – even as opponents of the laws warn there is still potential to disqualify female voters. Voter ID laws are intensely controversial: the Justice Department is currently suing Texas and North Carolina to block their new, stricter laws, and lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have also prevented voter ID laws from being implemented. Legislators supporting voter ID laws say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud; opponents say laws requiring certain types of identification disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. They may also create problems for women who have changed their names after marriage or divorce, advocates say.