In 1872, Susan B. Anthony illegally voted and her arrest revitalized the Suffrage movement. In 1890, with Susan B. Anthony at the head of the organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed (NAWSA).
Carrie Chapman Catt the lead NAWSA final push, with two million members, to make universal suffrage a reality. The Nineteenth Amendment became a part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
The movement started in the Victorian era. In 1872, the National Society for Women’s Suffrage was formed which later turned into the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
In 1913, Parliament passed the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act, commonly referred to as the Cat and Mouse Act. This allowed for the release of those whose hunger strikes, while imprisoned for the sometimes violent tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union until they were fed and healthy so the striking women would not become martyrs.
The outbreak of World War I resulted in a pause of all political movements. In 1918, a coalition in Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, granting all men, as well as women over the age of 30 who met the minimum property qualifications the right to vote. In 1928, the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed, which gave women over the age of 21 the right to vote on equal terms with men.
In Russia, two years after the October Bolshevik Revolution when Vladimir Lenin came to power, women’s equality was theoretically recognized and women’s suffrage was granted. Lenin wrote that “to effect [woman’s] emancipation and make her the equal of man, it is necessary to be socialized and for women to participate in common productive labor.”
Suffrage, however, really meant nothing because of the Communist Party’s monopoly of power. Independent feminist organizations and journals were shut down. Despite the prevailing Soviet ideology of gender equality and the fact that many women had jobs and earned advanced degrees, they did not participate in political roles.
Hendrick Smith, the former Russian correspondent for the New York Times, noted that the emancipation of women had led to their exploitation. He recounts “Under capitalism, women are not liberated because they have no opportunity to work. They have to stay at home, go shopping, do the cooking, keep house and take care of the children. But under socialism, women are liberated. They have the opportunity to work all day and then go home, go shopping, do the cooking, keep house and take care of the children”