Women's suffrage i.e. our right to vote is civil liberty; one which we sometimes take for granted.
For many women around the world, the fundamental right to vote is a recent luxury; the women in Saudi Arabia won the right to vote in 2015.
Victory for women in the U.S.
The 26th of August commemorates the historic event of 1920; the 19th constitutional amendment when Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation that gave US women the constitutional right to vote. This grave change was an acclamation of all those peaceful non-violent aggregates of women which began in 1878. Henceforth, since 1971, August 26th has been celebrated as Women's Equality Day.
In India, the women were enfranchised in 1921 under British Rule in the City of Madras for the first time. However, it's only after independence that universal suffrage was enforced by the constitution.
In the year 1917, the Women's Indian Association (WIA) was set up in Adyar, Madras under the shadow of prominent social and political activists such as Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Muthulakshmi Reddy, Herabai Tata, Dorothy Jeenarajadasa and others; a multiethnic group of women aiming to abolish customs like early marriage, forced widowhood and to promote women's education and upliftment.
The Journey towards universal suffrage
During the same year, the WIA had put forth a request to the then touring Montagu-Chelmsford Commission for women's suffrage. However, they were rejected with the notion that the Indian scenario was not developed enough. The Indian Women did not attain the right to vote in the 1910s.
In the 1920s members of the WIA contributed to the 'National Convention' for framing of the Commonwealth of India Bill 1925. The Bill was comprehensive, represented the Indian Soul and demanded the fundamental right of no discrimination based on sex. Unfortunately, the Bill remained unpassed. But it had a tremendous impact on the framing process of the final draft of the Indian Constitutional.
Thereby, in 1950, universal suffrage ensured women of all statuses could cast votes and contest in elections. The Indian woman had finally crossed a milestone; a gigantic step towards gender equality. India became the first large democracy to adopt universal adult suffrage from its very inception.
The year 2020 marks the centennial of this epic breakthrough towards gender equality.
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