Women And The Right To Vote

Australia led the world in granting political rights to women.

However, despite granting the vote to all women in 1903, progress was slow in other areas, and it was not until 1926 that women were able to both vote and stand for all Houses of Parliament in all parts of the Commonwealth.

The right to vote and sit in Parliament was confined to men and women over the age of 21 years.

The Commonwealth rights excluded Aboriginal natives of Australia, Asia, Africa or the Pacific Islands except New Zealand, unless they already had the franchise at the State level. Aboriginal Australians were not granted the full franchise at the Federal level until 1962.

At the Federation referendums of the late-1890s and the first Federal Election in 1901, only women from South Australia and Western Australia were entitled to vote.

The first woman to win election to an Australian Parliament was Edith Cowan. She was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly district of West Perth in 1921 and held the seat until 1924.

The first country to grant women the right to vote was New Zealand in 1893.

Women’s Political Rights In Australia
State Right to Vote Right To Sit First Woman Elected
South Australia
1894
1894
1959
Western Australia
1899
1920
1921
Commonwealth
1902
1902
1943
New South Wales
1902
1918 LA
1926 LC
1925 LA
1931 LC
Tasmania
1903
1921
1948
Queensland
1905
1918
1929
Victoria
1908
1923
1933


Women’s Political Rights In Selected Countries
Country Right to Vote Right to Sit First Woman Elected
New Zealand
1893
1919
1933
Australia
1902
1902
1943
Finland
1906
1906
1907
Norway
1907/1913
1907/1913
1936
Denmark
1915
1915
1918
United Kingdom
1918/1928
1918
1918
Germany
1918
1918
1919
Czechoslovakia
1918
1918
1920
Austria
1919
1919
1919
Canada
1919
1919
1921
Netherlands
1919
1917
1918


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