Wednesday, June 08, 2016

110 Years Ago Finnish Women Won The Vote

On June 1, 1906, 110 years ago,  this happened:

In tiny Finland, then part of the empire of Russia, women won the right to vote in the semi-independent Finnish elections.  The next Finnish parliament (voted in during 1907) had nineteen female members.  Here are thirteen of them:

The biographies (in Finnish, sorry) of those nineteen women make fascinating reading.  They were politically active, some to the extent of later spending time in prison for their political convictions. * They were teachers, journalists, seamstresses and servants.**  They were concerned with the position of women in the Finnish society and sought to improve that position through legislation, but they also had other political concerns.  They made a difference.

Those nineteen women were the world's first female members of parliament.

* That would be the socialists or communists.  Several of them were imprisoned during the Finnish Civil War and one woman even later.

** The occupations I listed are the ones which had more than one representative.  The women also included a weaver, a farmer's wife, an entrepreneur (who was also one of the founding members of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party!), a life-long feminist activist (Alexandra Gripenberg) and even a woman who was a manager of a bank from 1917 to 1925.  Miina Sillanpää became the first Finnish female minister during the 1920s, was responsible for beginning the organizing of female labor and created a network of homes for unwed mothers.  She has earned a permanent place in Finnish history.