Women’s political rights are one of the bulwarks of democracy. It is one of the founding principles that guide the institution of government. Without the right to vote, how could a constitution be put into place and representative governments be legitimate? Without access to certain services such as health care, education, work, and political representation, how could a society to sustain growth? Without equal rights, we cannot say that all people are treated equally or fairly. Without equal opportunity in education, work, and health care, how can we say that equal is best, especially when we ignore other issues such as those relating to gender, ethnicity, religion, and race?
When women reach the age of majority in most countries, they gain political rights that go far beyond the franchise, or suffrage movements for women in other countries. For example, in Switzerland, women can stand and run for office, can be a judge, and can even stand for the country’s highest office. They can also be a property speculator and can be granted property by the government. As the United Kingdom’s first woman prime minister, Clementinejad Gavina, has often stated, "If women have the right to vote, then I don’t mind being called a female chauvinist pig, a Fenriswolf, a backstabber, or a thief. I prefer to be called a courageous warrior."
How does this impact on women’s suffrage efforts? There are four major ways this is manifested today. First, through regional patterns: women are more likely to be able to vote for their local representatives, if their community is a majority ethnic minority. In areas with a high percentage of women, vote getting candidates gain support from ethnic minority groups. The second way is by extending suffrage to more categories: regional, national, and international.
In countries with the most political rights for women, there is a higher likelihood of women attaining enfranchisement. It is true in Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. Latin America has seen a rise in the number of women attaining enfranchisement, due to political, economic, and social reforms promoted by the governments of these countries. In Latin America, women are now able to choose which gender represents them politically, and have greater access to education, employment, housing, health care, equal representation in the workplace, and other aspects.
The third way to manifest political and franchise rights for women is in the developing world. Many women living in the developing world have no option but to vote for a male-headed government because of gender discrimination. They cannot choose freely who their head of state will be, whether it is a male or female. In countries where the franchise is not yet available to women, the right to vote is granted to individuals, such as women or children living in rural communities, using money awarded from development projects to purchase a franchise. In the wake of the world war, many people living in the developing world were displaced from their homes; women were forcibly taken to the cities to work in factories; and political and social rights were stripped from them.
Whatever the circumstances of a country’s evolution, rights for women are still present. Today, they can be found everywhere in the world, although they are often still unequal in relation to men. Enfranchisement is possible in countries with universal literacy, a level of political and economic development, a highly developed economy, and progressive gender policies. If there are no women politicians running an electing body, women can still exercise their franchise rights, if they are residents of that country, or abroad. Regional patterns can also reveal local patterns of political and social enfranchisement.