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.Full Article: Closing Pakistan’s electoral gender gap | The New Times | Rwanda.
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.Full Article: Women Cut Out of Election by Zimbabwe’s Proof of Residence — Women & Girls.
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.Full Article: France elects record number of women to parliament | Reuters.
… 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.Full Article: Non! Nein! No! A Country That Wouldn’t Let Women Vote Till 1971.
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.Full Article: Happy birthday, 19th Amendment!.
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.Full Article: Tokyo elects first female governor | World news | The Guardian.
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.Full Article: Japanese politics a man's world as few females stand in 2016 Upper House election | The Japan Times.
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.Full Article: Iran's new parliament has more women than clerics.
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.Full Article: Iran set to elect record number of women into parliament | World news | The Guardian.
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.”Full Article: Barriers for women in Nauru elections | Radio New Zealand News.
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.Full Article: Saudi Arabia elects up to 17 female councillors in historic election | World news | The Guardian.
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.Full Article: Saudi Arabian women vote for first time in local elections | MSNBC.
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.”Full Article: Saudi women are voting and running for office for the first time - The Washington Post.
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.Full Article: Scores of women 'divorced or abandoned' for voting in Tanzanian elections | World news | The Guardian.
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”.Full Article: Two disqualified as first Saudi women begin campaign for election | The Guardian.
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.Full Article: Saudi municipal elections sees withdrawal of 120 women candidates - Al Arabiya News.
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.Full Article: In Saudi Arabia, women can now cast a vote and run for office.
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.Full Article: From the U.S. to Saudi Arabia, Women Had to Fight to Vote.