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Sister suffragettes: Spain celebrates 90 years of votes for women
Monday, October 4, 2021 @ 3:44 PM

WOMEN all over Spain have plenty to be grateful for this month – the 90th anniversary of the female vote which, even for residents who can never cast their ballot because of being a foreigner, was still a life-changing turn of history which has made a real difference for approximately 50% of the population.

On their way to the polling station for the first time (photos 1, 2, 4 and 5 from the National Library, or Biblioteca Nacional)

That's because it wasn't just about elections, even though that was the sole quest for the women's suffrage movement in Spain which ended with the Constitution of 1931. As a result of this landmark new law, female views are taken into account when building the institution that runs the country, being able to vote made ladies actually start to think about politics, as it was finally something they were 'allowed' to have opinions on, and felt encouraged to become involved on the front line. And perhaps as a result of the feminine influence in national and local government formation, life, legislation and society began to change towards equality between the sexes – or maybe this new outlook was purely a result of the suffrage debate itself, causing women to suddenly become aware that, actually, there was no sensible or practical reason for their being treated any differently to their menfolk, and that they should not have to just accept this as their lot in life.


Not just a stroke of the pen

As was the case in most countries – and the suffrage movement, active from the early 19th century, was international – equality at election time was not just a case of, “okay, girls, if that's what you want, we'll sign the paperwork, then.” It was an ongoing battle on the part of its supporters against continued discrimination within this new freedom: Prerequisites such as property ownership, which basically only encompassed spinsters and widows with an inheritance; married women being allowed to vote only with their husbands' permission; women's minimum voting age being much higher than men's, all had to be beaten down along the way.

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