Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or marital status. The movement's modern origins can be attributed to late-18th century France.
Limited voting rights were gained by women in Sweden, Britain, Finland and some western U.S. states in the late 19th century. International organizations were formed to coordinate efforts, especially the International Council of Women (1888) and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1904). In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation to extend the right to vote to all adult women. The women in South Australia achieved the same right in 1894 but became the first to obtain the right to stand (run) for Parliament. The first European country to introduce women's suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland—then a part of the Russian Empire with autonomous powers—which also produced the world's first female members of parliament as a result of the 1907 parliamentary elections.
In most Western nations woman suffrage came at the end of World War I, with some important late adopters such as France in 1944 and Switzerland in 1971.
For information on the current Equal Rights Amendment movement.