US Presidential election 2016: Understanding Women's Suffrage

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The US Presidential elections has been building up a long-tumultous history dating back to 1920. A crucial turn in the history of democracy, US saw a turning point which not only allowed women to practice their rights, but also let them participate in the nation's administration.

When we talk about a Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina, it is not to be forgotten what women in the history of US democratic elections have to go through to reach this level. Much needs to be done even now, albeit the 104 women serving the Congress.

Hillary Clinton

What is Women's Suffrage?

Women's Suffrage or the legal right of women to vote in the US was regional and was observed in certain pockets of the United States until it got nationalised in 1920.

The movement for the same began to gather strength in 1840. In fact, the Seneca Falls Convention, in 1848, was the first women's rights convention that passed the first resolution in favour of the Suffrege, despite opposition from quarters who believed that it was too extreme an idea.

[Read: US presidential election 2016: Caucus/primary schedules & results]

After the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the women hoped that their fight to vote will finally get a force and the Supreme Court would rule in favour of them. In fact, several attempts of the Suffrege to vote were turned down when they were sent away from polling booths.

The leader of NAWSA Susan B. Anthony was, in fact, arrested for voting in 1872 and was sent on trial which further ignited the movement. When the Supreme Court ruled against the movement, fresh campaigns for the cause began.

In 1916, over 200 workers from NWP (National Woman's Party), which is a militant group, were arrested on charges of picketing at the White House. While some women went on hunger strike, there were others who had to undergo forced feeding captivity.

[Read: Party raiding: An interesting tactic in US presidential election primaries]

Following this, the two-million-member NAWSA, under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, made a national suffrage amendment its top priority. Given the tenacity of the movement and a series of votes in the U.S Congress and state legislatures, the 19th Amendment finally became a part of the U.S Constitution on August 26, 1920. It stated:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

A one-of-a-kind achievement in the history of United States, women's suffrage changed the face of the State. But with a price!

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