The Introduction of Women’s Suffrage in Germany and Its Consequences

Start of project: January 2017

November 2018 will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the introduction in Germany of women’s right to vote. The intention of this project is to stimulate research on this historical event. An academic conference will be held in September 2017 on this subject, and a special exhibition will be on display from August 2018 to January 2019 at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt. There are also plans for a publication.

The project will address three areas: (1) First, we will ask what role women’s right to vote played in the process of achieving gender equality and how this struggle can be interpreted within the history of women’s movements. Which other factors were similarly important or even more significant, such as changes in family law? Which hopes and fears were associated with women’s suffrage in society as a whole? (2) The second question concerns what the introduction of the right to vote has meant in women’s everyday lives and in the women’s movement. What influence have female parliamentarians had on the political landscape? Have they enacted laws affecting the lives of women in particular? How did the movements for women’s suffrage and women’s rights develop after women won the right to vote? (3) Finally, we will analyze how women’s suffrage was effectively achieved, and why, after World War I, a relatively large number of states recognized this right, so that our analysis should be expanded to include an international perspective.

The project is being realized in cooperation with Dr. Kerstin Wolff (Archiv der deutschen Frauenbewegung, Kassel [Foundation Archive of the German Women’s Movement, Kassel]), the Historisches Museum Frankfurt [Historical Museum in Frankfurt am Main], and Prof. Dr. Ulla Wischermann (director of the Cornelia Goethe Centrum für Frauenstudien und die Erforschung der Geschlechterverhaeltnisse [Cornelia Goethe Center for Women’s and Gender Studies], Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main).