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women's suffrage movement definitions

Britannica Concise

Movement to grant women the right by law to vote. Women's voting rights became an issue in the 19th cent., especially in Britain and the U.S. In the U.S. the women's-suffrage movement arose from the antislavery movement (see abolitionism) and the emergence of such leaders as L. Mott and E. C. Stanton, who believed that equality should extend to women as well as blacks and organized the Seneca Falls Convention (1848). In 1850 L. Stone established the movement's first national convention. Stanton and S. B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Assn. in 1869 to secure an amendment to the Constitution, while Stone founded the Amer. Woman Suffrage Assn. to seek similar amendments to state constitutions; in 1890 the two organizations merged as the National Amer. Woman Suffrage Assn. Following Wyoming's lead in 1890, states began adopting such amendments; by 1918 women had acquired suffrage in 15 states. After a women's-suffrage amendment was passed by Congress, a vigorous campaign brought ratification, and in August 1919 the 19th Amendment became part of the Constitution. In Britain, the first women's-suffrage committee was formed in Manchester in 1865. In the 1870s suffragists submitted petitions with almost 3 million signatures. Despite growing support, suffrage bills were continually defeated; in frustration, some suffragists became militant activists under the leadership of E. and Christabel Pankhurst. Parliament finally passed the Representation of the People Act in 1918. Women had already won voting rights in New Zealand (1893), Australia (1902), Finland (1906), Norway (1913), and the Soviet Union (1917). They were followed by Poland (1918), Sweden (1919), Germany (1919), and Ireland (1922); France, Italy, India, and Japan passed women's-suffrage laws after World War II.



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