Possibly the biggest change in the political landscape of the 20th Century has been the enfranchisement of women. When the century began, only one small country (New Zealand) allowed women to vote, but now, as the century comes to a close, only one small country (Kuwait) does not allow women to vote.
The map, however, can be slightly misleading. Many of these nations have not had long histories of democratic rule, so the vote that women were granted was practically meaningless. Also, the voting rights shown on the map are at the national level; for some women, the right to vote in state, provincial or local elections came earlier or later.
Obviously, the right to vote does not necessarily translate into full and immediate equality in law, tradition or economics, but it's usually the first vital milestone. Not only does it give women a say in the world around them, it also states clearly and unequivocally, that women should have a say in the world around them.
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Last updated July 1998
Copyright © 1998 Matthew White