Women's suffrage 100 years on: everything fine?

Several European countries introduced women's suffrage in 1918: Britain, Poland, Germany and Austria. A ceremony was held in Berlin on Monday to mark this milestone, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for a higher percentage of women in the German parliament. The media discuss just how far governments have come in terms of equal rights.

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Libération (FR) /

Excluded from the commemoration ceremonies

Germany has taken a reserved approach to commemorating the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, notes Libération's Berlin correspondent Johanna Luyssen:

“Germany has been distinctly downbeat in celebrating one hundred years of women's suffrage. Of course there was an official ceremony. ... But the event didn't make headlines - also because on the very same day the distinctly non-feminist Interior Minister Horst Seehofer officially confirmed that he would soon be stepping down as CSU leader. ... Women's suffrage was introduced in Germany with the proclamation of the Weimar Republic. But 100 years later the subject seems to be very much a side issue, excluded from the grand commemoration procession.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

France shows the way

Tagesspiegel recommends that Germany take a look at how its neighbour has dealt with the issue:

“Above all the small number of nominations and poor listings for women are to blame for their low level of participation in political institutions and parliaments; this was already a disappointing realisation for the women's rights movement after their first vote in 1919. ... The percentage of women in the German Bundestag was under 10 percent until 1983, and is still markedly below 30 percent. At the municipal the average level is 25 percent. ... A gender parity law like that introduced in 2000 in France to promote equal access to election mandates would end this unfair situation.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Polish women fight on

Taking stock of developments in Poland Gazeta Wyborcza also voices dissatisfaction with the progress regarding women's rights:

“Polish women still haven't been given all they deserve. They demand more pay, as they did in 2007, for example, when 3,000 nurses set up their 'white town' opposite the prime minister's office. They fight against discrimination in business. And their protests have been growing ever louder since the terms 'discrimination' and 'sexual harassment' were incorporated into the labour laws in 2004. They reject the tightening of the anti-abortion law and organise mass protests.”