Today of course we all know that men and women are equal. We have (or at least should have) the same rights and chances. But it was not always like this. Gaining even fundamental rights was a long and thorny way, and it is not very long ago that the fight for it was in full swing.
For thousands of years, it was “common knowledge” that women were not created – nor fitted – to take a place in society, to work and decide without being overviewed by men. They lacked, so everybody believed, both physical and mental stability, as well as intellect, and were to be compared with children. (Read a lengthy article about the attitudes towards women in history here.). But during the 18th and 19th century, a strong confidence grew among women that this was not true at all and that they could do the same things as men – equally well. Bit by bit they fought for it – for being allowed to graduate at universities, to become teachers, doctors and lawyers. Bit by bit they gained these rights. But one still was not in their reach, in most of European countries and American states: The right to vote. The right to really influence society and politics. This was the reason why they started a crusade – the women’s suffrage movement.
March 3rd, 2013 is the 100th anniversary of an important date in the history of the US branch of this movement: The “Woman Suffrage Procession” taking place in Washington, D.C.
It was not the first or the last of those Marches, but it was a decidedly big and well-covered one. Many photos exist from there (Just take a look at this wonderful collection over at The Atlantic). And it had an impact, if not for the march itself, though many prominent women took part, then for the aftermaths. The way the women were treated by the police and the crowd (more than 300 were injured) led to a senate hearing after which the head of the police was replaced. Many people became more aware of the suffrage movement, and began to question the way women were treated. It took till 1920, however, till the 19th Amendment finally allowed all American women to vote.
Celebrate the Women’s suffrage movement and the 100th anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C. with a few links I’ve put together.
Read an in-depth-article on the March in Washington on the Library-of-Congress-Website. Here you can also find a huge collection of texts and pictures on the Women’s suffrage movement. About.com provides another good collection of pictures. TIME magazine featured a slide show “A woman’s right to vote” some time ago, too and there are wonderful, powerful photographs to find on BuzzFeed.
This short video shows a few moving pictures that survived from the beginning of the 20th century:
There is a nice Flickr Set providing a few photographs of original documents related to the movement. This page on History.com puts together quite a few interesting links to articles, photos and videos on the topic.
Here you find a brief overview on who were the women in the center of the Suffrage movement.
This website “Woman suffrage Memorabilia” is a treasure trove of memorabilia of that important time of history. See magazines, ribbons and much more there.
Not everyone was happy about the women’s wish for the vote, which can be seen in these two letters to the NYT from 1918, or this article, called “A famed biologist’s warning of the peril in votes for women” (links to PDF!). It is als a motif in this parody on Lady GaGa’s song “Bad romance” that explores the suffrage movement.
Finally women succeeded: Read a collection of NYT articles featuring the Passage of the 19th Amendment. But it should take decades till the right to vote was given to women all over the globe. The last country granting its women this right is Saudi Arabia, whose female citizens will vote for the 1st time in 2015.