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Norway gives women partial suffrage

This Day in World History

14 June 1907

Norway gives women partial suffrage


On 14 June 1907, Norway’s Storting (Stortinget) demonstrated the difficulty faced by women’s suffrage advocates around the world. On the one hand, the national legislature approved a bill that would allow some of Norway’s women to vote for lawmakers and even to win seats in the Storting. On the other hand, the male lawmakers limited national voting rights to women who had the right to vote in municipal elections.

First woman to cast her vote in the municipal election, Akershus slott, Norway, 1910. Oslo Museum collection (via DigitaltMuseum) under Creative Commons License.

Those limits meant that only women who were at least 25 years old and met certain tax-paying thresholds had the right to vote. The Storting voted by a 3-to-2 margin not to enact universal female suffrage.

From the 1300s to the 1800s, Norway was joined with its neighbors Denmark or Sweden. While reforms in the late 1800s created a powerful Norwegian legislature and considerable autonomy over domestic conditions, Norway did not gain full independence until 1905. Even then, the legislature accepted a king and put a constitutional monarchy into place.

Democratic reformers were among of the forces pushing for these changes in the late 1800s. Norwegian men gained the right to vote in 1898. A women’s suffrage movement had been active since 1885 but was unable to convince the Storting to extend the right to women. Norway’s women did enjoy some advances. In 1854, they gained the right to inherit property, and in the 1890s, they won the right to control their own property.

Nevertheless, it was another six years after the 1907 vote for the Storting to agree to full women’s suffrage. While the delay may have frustrated Norway’s women, they were still better off than the women in all but three other countries. Only New Zealand, Australia, and Finland allowed women to vote at that time.

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