100 years of female suffrage in Germany: the unknown story

Source: The Local

100 years of female suffrage in Germany: the unknown story
A poster in the Damenwahl (women’s vote) exhibition in Frankfurt am Main promotes the Women’s Day in 1914. Photo: DPA
The English suffragettes are world famous, whilst the pioneers of German women’s suffrage are much less known. Now their story is being rediscovered.

Who were Clara Zetkin and Hedwig Dohm? Minna Cauer, Helene Lange, Anita Augspurg and Louise Otto-Peters? On a game show, most Germans would probably struggle if asked questions about these names. They are all figures who helped women to gain the vote in Germany – a right that on November 12th will have existed for 100 years. Women gained the right to vote in the autumn of 1918 during the transition period from imperial rule to the Weimar Republic.

The name Clara Zetkin is the most recognizable: in 1911 she co-founded International Women’s Day, she was a member of the Reichstag and became a socialist icon in the GDR. According to Kaiser Wilhelm II, she was the “most dangerous witch of the German Reich”.

It is not only Zetkin though: other women’s rights activists are also being rediscovered and celebrated. The Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs is sponsoring an anniversary campaign for 100 years of women’s suffrage. In Frankfurt am Main there an exhibition called Damenwahl! (Women’s Vote). The exhibition will offer an insight into the early women’s movement in Germany, which is not as well-known as the suffragette movement in Great Britain (their story became a film starring Meryl Streep).

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9 replies

  1. My father voted against the women’s right to vote simply because the bible states: “Women should be silent in public” (not exact wording). That’s why women got the right to vote rather late in Switzerland.

  2. Before the right to vote to women was given in Switzerland in my home village the ladies were asked if they wanted to vote and the majority said NO. (My mother said Yes however).

  3. In a ‘function’ relating to the right for women to vote our village Doctor said : ” We all know that the ladies have ‘that time of the month’ and it is well known that they are not rational during those days. What about if a vote comes ‘during those days’? It would be sort of dangerous.” (not joking).

    • It’s really sad , that a “Doctor” said that, know that God has made women responsible for caring and upbringing of children and if their rational was questionable 1/4 of the month then most of the kids would turn up demented or worst. Who cares about votes at that point. Women may be moody but that does not comprise their ethics or their rationale. They still know right from wrong, just because That are menstruating , it does not make them monsters or inhuman or any less than anybody who votes or does not menstruates. It’s just how God designed it all.

  4. Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971.[1] In 1991 following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI) became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues; AI is the smallest Swiss canton with c. 14,100 inhabitants in 1990.[2]

    A previous referendum on women’s suffrage was held on 1 February 1959 and was rejected by the majority (67%) of Switzerland’s men. Despite this, in some French-speaking cantons women obtained the right to vote in local referendums.[1] The first Swiss woman to hold political office, Trudy Späth-Schweizer, was elected to the municipal government of Riehen in 1958.[3]

    Wikipedia.

  5. ” In a ‘function’ relating to the right for women to vote our village Doctor said : ” We all know that the ladies have ‘that time of the month’ and it is well known that they are not rational during those days. What about if a vote comes ‘during those days’? It would be sort of dangerous.” (not joking). If it is true then I can only comment Oh My God. Poor ladies.

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