Teaching Women’s Rights
From Past to Present

Primary Sources
with Discussions and Activities


Suffrage - When, Where, and
Obstacles to Overcome

Suffrage (the right to vote)

1)  First find out when women in the United States achieved the right to vote in national elections.

2)  Examine the cartoons below:
Identify the obstacles to women's political participation as shown by these cartoons.

Poster by Women in Nigeria

Cartoon from India
ISIS Women in Action 1/88

Cartoon from
Life Magazine, 1914

Cartoon about Indian proposal to reserve Parliament seats for women.

Cartoon from the Chicago Daily News, 1920

3)  Click Here to go to the Suffrage Fact Sheet

After studying the Suffrage Fact Sheet, answer the following questions:

  • How many countries gave women the right to vote before the U.S.?

  • Why did the biggest surge in voting rights come during the late 1950s?

  • What nation granted female suffrage in the 19th century?

  • Name some countries where women won the vote directly after WWII.

  • If you were for women's right to vote, what arguments would you use?

  • If you were against women's suffrage, what arguments might you use?

4)  What is your Opinion?

  • Worldwide, women tend to vote less than men.What do you think would happen if women began to vote in equal proportion to men? Do you think women's vote would significantly change national policies? Would women world wide vote differently than men? Why or why not?

  • What are some of the reasons why women do not get elected to office in equal numbers to men?

  • What is a more powerful tool for women, suffrage or winning political office? Will a simple increase in women's representation increase women's political power?

  • To be seen as politically powerful in the traditional sense, do women have to become "like men." Why or why not?

In our book, I Will Not Bow My Head, there is a lesson on the suffrage movement in England.

Resources for current discussion and figures on women in politics:


1) The World's Women 2000, The Trends and Statistics - U.N. Publications.

2) The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World: Revised and Updated - by Joni Seager, Penguin Books, New York, ©2003.


Heads of State: 20th Century:  Links to female presidents, prime ministers, and queens.

Women and Politics:  Links to sites such as GENDER AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION, information on women’s roles in politics.

Women World Leaders: 1945-2004:  Listing with some biographic information of reigning queens, presidents, prime ministers, governors-general, and rulers currently in office.

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
Click for Author Information

| Home Page | Lessons | Thematic Units | Biographies | Essays |
Reviews: | Curriculum | Books | Historical Mysteries |
| About Us |
Women in World History Curriculum