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100 years since female enfranchisement

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

By Amy Nicholas

The year 2018 marks 100 years since the enfranchisement of German women. While suffrage for [most] men was provided for following German Unification in 1871, the female suffrage movement in 1870 still had a significant way to go.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the fight for women’s voting rights gained real momentum.  In 1873 Hedwig Dohm, feminist and author, demanded political rights for women in her writing and called for women to liberate themselves from their political oppression. 

Hedwig Dohm. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1902, the "German Association for Women's Voting Rights" is founded in Hamburg: the first ever association whose only goal is the fight for women’s suffrage. For the first time in 1908, following the abolition of the Prussian Association Law, (das Preußische Vereinsgesetz) the ban on women joining political associations and parties is lifted.

On the 30th of November 1918, the Electoral Law of the Empire (Reichswahlgesetz) came into force, and with it the enfranchisement of all male and female citizens in Germany. January 19th 1919 marked a Milestone in Germany’s history: eligible women were not only able to vote in this election, but could be voted for and elected to parliament. 82% of the female electorate turned out on this day to vote, an impressive majority by both today’s and 20th century standards.

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