By Hannes Richter
The roots of women’s suffrage movement in general can be found in the 18th century: Olympe de Gouges, widely regarded as being the first champion of female suffrage, published her declaration of rights of the woman and the female citizen (Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne) after the French Revolution in 1791.
De Gouges was arrested two years later and executed in 1793. During the 19th century, industrialization, urbanization and the corresponding societal changes led to increasing demands for representation and political integration of previously disenfranchised groups, ranging from the bourgeoisie to workers. However, gender equality initially was not part of this bourgeois revolution, despite a few demonstrations by female workers like those taking to the street in Austria in August 1848, protesting a misogynist wage policy.The struggle for the right to vote for women would eventually last for decades and was subject to a variety of factors, including the war economy. The following provides an outline of the history of the women’s vote in Austria.
Austrian women fighting for women’s rights | Die Welt der Habsburger
With the foundation of the first women’s associations in 1867 there began a battle for equal rights for women which still continues today. Personalities such as Marianne Hainisch and Adelheid Popp fought for women’s rights in education and for female suffrage.
The beginnings of the Austrian women’s movement originated from the events of 1848: the Democratic Women’s Association protested against lower wages for women. Ridiculed by many men, and because the 1867 Law on Assembly and Association denied women membership of explicitly political associations, it was dissolved shortly afterwards. Its spirit re-emerged in new associations that devoted themselves to charitable and educational concerns.