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Women’s Suffrage Essay Draft 2
Essay Sample on Women’s suffrage movement
Women saw major gains in political if not social and economic equality in many countries at the end of World War II. Carrie Chapman Catt helped pave the way, although she had turned eighty in 1939 and did not attend the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War that year. She was back in 1942, though, and saw the committee dissolved in the spring of 1943. In the middle of World War II, it was succeeded by the Women’s Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace (Van Voris, 1987). When the war ended in 1945, Catt called for another women’s crusade.
Once again, she rallied women around the world to work for equality and peace. On January 10, 1944 (her eighty-fifth birthday), Carrie Chapman Catt told an audience of 650 persons that Hitler had taken the vote away from women in twelve European countries. This wartime reminder marked the beginning of another phase in the struggle. She implored all loyal suffragists to help these women regain the ballot, and she joined with her longtime admirer, American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in a plea for world peace (New York Times, 1944a).
The elderly Catt continued to maintain some influence as the matriarch of the International Alliance of Women as well as through individual contacts and other international women’s organizations. Public recognition of previous efforts did not help contemporary women, and new rights were slow to be won. Carrie Chapman Catt had learned from World War I that women’s rights depended fundamentally on peace. In August 1945, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of woman suffrage in the United States, she pointed out that of the thirty-four countries that had given women the vote before the war, fifteen had robbed them of it since.
Catt also promoted the International Alliance of Women as they prepared for their first postwar meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the following year (New York Times, 1945a). As Catt again tried to rally women in American and world organizations, similar stirrings were underway in other nations as well. In Central America in 1944, the Nicaraguan Liberal party called for woman suffrage, which was not awarded for another decade. In the Middle East, a bill for woman suffrage was introduced in the Chamber of Deputies in Lebanon.
This prompted Iraqi and Egyptian feminists to call for the ballot again in their countries. Egyptian women had been demanding the right to vote since 1919 (New York Times, 1944b). In December 1944, Middle Eastern women called a landmark meeting to discuss ways to secure equal rights. Delegates came to Cairo from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Trans-Jordan, and Iraq. While Egypt’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Fahmy Nokrashi Pasha said this meeting was an effective step toward an Arab federation, it meant more to women in that region.
At the opening session, Lali Abou Hoda, headof the Trans-Jordanian delegation, tellingly remarked that this was the first meeting the women of her country were ever permitted to attend. Rose Shahfa of Lebanon proposed that women be represented at the forthcoming peace conference (New York Times, 1945b). Despite their enthusiasm, suffrage was still at least a decade away. As the war drew to a close, the women’s rights movement gained momentum unexpectedly.
General Charles DeGaulle added a political grace note to the war effort by according French women in the homeland suffrage long-distance from his exile headquarters in Algiers (Florence, 1944). DeGaulle did this just when he was going to need the women most, before the Allied invasion. By December when the men were back in their own territory, they raised concerns about the need to educate French women on the use of the vote. The men feared that women would be too conservative and would support only Catholic candidates.
They raised the possibility that suffrage enacted under the Provisional Government might not be continued in the new Republic. At that time, sixty-nine percent of the women reportedly wanted the vote while twenty-six percent were opposed (New York Times, 1945c). Many of the men’s fears were dispelled on April 30, 1945, when more women than men voted, including nuns. The Communists made a good showing after they promised larger food rations if they won. Women retained suffrage, although men continued to fear that they would be too conservative and the Catholic Church would exert undueinfluence.
Like the French, the Italians began to make democratic promises under wartime stress. In their case, they switched allegiance from the Germans to the Allies before Italy was back under their own control. In 1944, the new Government of National Union promised “a constituent and legislative assembly, to be elected by the people convened in free public meetings and acting under universal suffrage, as soon as the hostilities end. ” This was interpreted to include votes for women for the first time. Mussolini had never gotten around to it. The Communists and the Socialists also said they favored votes for women (Sedgwick, 1944).
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National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection
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The National American Woman Suffrage Association
Formed in 1890, NAWSA was the result of a merger between two rival factions–the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), led by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell , and Julia Ward Howe. These opposing groups were organized in the late 1860s, partly as the result of a disagreement over strategy. NWSA favored women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment, while AWSA believed success could be more easily achieved through state-by-state campaigns. NAWSA combined both of these techniques, securing the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 through a series of well-orchestrated state campaigns under the dynamic direction of Carrie Chapman Catt. With NAWSA’s primary goal of women’s enfranchisement now a reality, the organization was transformed into the League of Women Voters.