The Year Women Won the Right to Vote in 46 Countries
The United States is approaching the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the constitution, passed in 1919 and ratified in 1920. Passed well over a century after the nation became a sovereign democracy, the amendment prohibits state and federal governments from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex.
The United States was not the first major nation to pass women’s voting right legislation, and it certainly was not the last. Throughout the 20th century, and even within the last few years, countries all over the globe have passed similar laws. In Saudi Arabia, for example, suffrage was finally won in 2011 for the following elections in 2015.
In many of the other countries on this list, women in religious and cultural minorities remained disenfranchised long after the dates listed.
The date the 19th Amendment passed is celebrated in the United States, marking an important milestone in women’s equality. Unfortunately, there are often small or large asterisks next to dates like these. At the time the amendment excluded Native American women, who were not considered U.S. citizens, for an additional four years.
Millions of African American women, while technically legally allowed to vote, were intentionally and systematically disenfranchised for decades after, facing widespread discrimination, violence, and unequal treatment, notably — but not exclusively — in the Jim Crow South, necessitating the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
This list of select major countries and the dates suffrage was granted to the general population, was compiled by the Nellie McClung Foundation, a women’s rights organization named for the Canadian suffragist.