Calling the America of the early 20th century a “man’s world” is an understatement. In most of the country, women were not considered full citizens. The march toward women’s suffrage — and the rights that came with it — was slowly moving ahead. But setbacks were common. In Oregon, women found themselves once again shut out of the larger political process. In the fall of 1908, the state’s male electorate dealt the suffragists one of the most resounding blows in their long battle for voting rights. Men overwhelmingly voted against granting suffrage to women. It was the movement’s fourth defeat since 1884. Meanwhile, a young woman in the state’s capital was quietly making political history. On a Saturday morning in February 1909, Carolyn B. Shelton took a seat at the Oregon governor’s desk in Salem. She was the nation’s first female governor.
They cannot post their portraits on campaign ads. They won’t be driving to campaign rallies. And they will have to pitch to men from behind screens to comply with strict segregation laws. This is electoral campaigning for women, Saudi style. The municipal poll on December 12 is the first time that women will vote and stand in a nationwide election, which is only the third voting experiment ever to be held in the conservative kingdom. It is, moreover, a partial election, with only half the seats up for grabs, the rest appointed. And, to top it all, the councils have limited authority. And yet, instead of frustration, I saw excitement in the faces of women running in the elections. For Saudi suffragettes, change comes at such a slow pace that every little step helps.
The candidate strode down the aisle separating hundreds of male and female supporters at a campaign rally in Kabul. She shook hands with the women filling the chairs to her right. To the men on the other side, she simply nodded. Habiba Sarabi is the most prominent woman running on a ticket in the April 5 election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Sarabi once served as Afghanistan’s first female governor, and her current bid to become Afghanistan’s first female vice president is part of an effort to get out the women’s vote as candidates scramble for every ballot. Women “can affect the transition, the political transition,” she said in an interview after addressing the rally to support Sarabi and her running mate, presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul. The event was held in a wedding hall in a Kabul district dominated by her ethnic minority Hazara community.
The drop in the representation of women in local government confirms the need for laws on increasing the number of women in decision-making positions, the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities said on Tuesday.
“The ministry is disappointed at the decline in the percentage of women as councillors in the country from 40% in 2006 to 38% after the 2011 local government elections,” the department read.
According to Gender Links research and advocacy organisation, which analysed representation at the May local government elections, in 1995 representation of women in local government was at 19% overall; 29% in 2000; 40% in 2006 and then dropped two percentage points to 38% for May 2011.
Minister of Gender Affairs Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro has said the highest corridors of power throughout the region continue to reflect unacceptably low levels of female representation, despite recognition of their positive influence in building democracy and fostering social programmes.
“There is an absence of a critical mass of women in ministerial positions as the movers and shakers of Caribbean political economies,” the minister noted during a workshop on Thursday at the City View Hotel to promote women’s participation in politics for good governance.
The General Election Commission announced on Saturday that it would not allow any illegal practices by candidates during their poll campaigns. It said as many as 5,609 are contesting the municipal council elections scheduled to be held on Sept. 29.
Jedaie Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the commission, said candidates should obtain special permission from local election committees to carry out election campaigns and publicity. “Candidates should follow certain rules and regulations during campaigns in order to avoid disciplinary action,” he said.
The commission said it had observed a number of illegal practices during the last election when some candidates formed alliances while some others circulated a list of candidates on the basis of tribes and ideological inclinations.
Swiss women have come a long way since 1971, the year they were granted the right to vote at the federal level. Exactly 40 years after their first chance to do so, around 125 representatives of the Swiss political, social and economic scenes celebrated the milestone in Bern on Monday.
On February 7, 1971, 66 per cent of Swiss men voted in favour of allowing women to vote as well. The first opportunity came on June 6 of that year – when nationwide issues included environmental protection and financial regulations.
Many women who remember that momentous year were at the Bernerhof on Monday to reminisce and discuss what still needs to be done.
Forty years ago today women gained the right to vote in Swiss federal elections.
Despite this development coming long after suffrage movements in other countries, a fair bit of resistance to female voters remained in Switzerland.
Political scientist and pollster Claude Longchamp told public television some difficulties still linger.
The Shoura Council recommended to the government on Monday that it take necessary measures to allow Saudi women to vote in municipal elections under Islamic law.
The decision was taken unanimously by members of the council, which also discussed the annual report of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs during its 38th regular session, chaired by the Shoura Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh in Riyadh on Sunday.