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Hemispheric Struggle for Women's Suffrage

Extending the vote to women was the first goal of CIM. When the Commission was first formed in 1928, the United States and Canada were the only countries in the Americas where women had the right to vote.

The reasons for which women were finally granted suffrage differed greatly from country to country, which "underscores the political diversity of the hemisphere." Supporters almost always advocated women's suffrage arguing that women would produce a "more moral society." Women themselves throughout the region understood that access to the vote was a first step toward political enfranchisement and empowerment.

Early feminists in Latin America recognized that there were advantages in addressing the question of women's rights in an international forum and that the leverage provided through this inter-American body was crucial to the expansion of political and civil rights in their own societies. CIM was instrumental in pushing for the debate of the issue of female suffrage at the national and international levels, and gradually—over the next thirty years—women throughout the Americas won the right to vote and to stand for office.

The struggle to extend effective suffrage to the women in the Americas, which so animated the presence of women at the international conferences of 1923, 1928, and 1933, came to a successful conclusion when in 1961, Paraguay granted women the right to vote and in 1965, Guatemala, which had granted suffrage to a restricted group of women in 1945, extended the right to vote to all women. The circumstances in which women in most of the English-speaking nations of the Caribbean, as well as Belize, Guyana, Suriname, and Canada, acquired the right to vote were different. Universal suffrage and participation and women's active role in political life predated independence in the English-speaking Commonwealth.

Women's Suffrage in the OAS Member States  

 

Country
Year
Country Year
Canada*
1918
Barbados
1950
United States
1920
Antigua and Barbuda
1951
Ecuador
1929
Dominica
1951
Brazil
1932
Grenada
1951
Uruguay
1932
Saint Lucia
1951
Cuba
1934
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  
El Salvador (limited)
1939
Bolivia
1952
Dominican Republic
1942
St. Kitts and Nevis
1952
Jamaica
1944
Mexico
1953
Guatemala (limited)
1945
Guyana
1953
Panama
1945
Honduras
1955
Trinidad and Tobago
1946
Nicaragua
1955
Argentina
1947
Peru
1955
Venezuela
1947
Colombia
1957
Suriname
1948
Paraguay
1961
Chile
1949
Bahamas
1962
Costa Rica
1949
Belize
1964
Haiti  
1950

 

* Except Quebec Province where women were granted the right to vote in 1952

 

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