100 years ago, German women won the right to vote -- but who were these women?

The names of many German suffragettes were lost after the revolution of 1918 and many others disappeared during the Nazi era. It's time to remember them again.

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
100 years ago, German women won the right to vote -- but who were these women? - NewsMavens
Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg, Wikimedia commons

Why this story matters:

German women won the right to vote in 1918 -- although this was not a full emancipation -- West German women were not allowed to work without their husbands' consent until 1977, for example.

Today, women only make up about 20% of the German parliament, and the gender pay gap still exists. 

The exhibition covered in the story recommended below, however, captures the gradual pace of social changes -- the fact that German women started working in specialized jobs such as teaching before World War One, for example. The war itself, which decimated the population of able-bodied men fit to work, and forced employers to hire women.

Reading about this now, one can only wonder how the changes bound to happen in today's workforce will affect women's pay and representation in the future.

Details from the story:

  • Clara Zetkin co-founded International Women's Day in 1911, was a member of the Reichstag and, so Kaiser Wilhelm II claimed, the "most dangerous witch of the German Reich."
  • The Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs is sponsoring an anniversary campaign for 100 years of women's suffrage.
  • In Frankfurt am Main, an exhibition called Damenwahl! (Women’s Vote) has been designed to reacquaint visitors with the story of these women.
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