|Suffrage, nation and citizenship|
|In an international perspective the women's suffrage contained an iteresting paradox: the first countries where women gained the vote were not those which had militant suffrage movements. On the countrary, they were remote colonies of British Empire or small and peripheral countries of Northeast Europe. In all of those countries, the civil society had not been stabilized and due to it, the relationship between genders had not yet grown into political conflict.
As we have learned the pioneering role of the women's vote belonged to New Zealand (1893) and Australia (1902), but less known is that the most comprehensive reform regarding the women's vote was carried out in Finland in 1906, when all Finnish people over 25 years gained, with some minute restrictions, the right to vote and stand as candidates for Parliament. Consequently, in 1907 Europe's most radical Parliament was elected, consisting of all social groups, and most significantly, including women for the first time acting in the political arena on an equal basis with men.
In my paper I will analyze from two different points of view, how and why Finnish women managed to gain their political rights earlier than their sisters in other Western countries. At first I will focus on international comparisons related to the women's vote. In particular, I will trace the common social and cultural caracteristics between the first countries which grant women's suffrage but will also note remarkable differencies, especially concerning parliamentary and societal traditions as well as developments of civil society.
Secondly, the relationship between Finland's and Russia's human and women's rights will be examined from a comparative perspective. In this sense Finland's situation was interesting. At the turn of the 19th century the country belonged as an autonomous nation to the Russian Empire. However, all of its cultural and constitutional pracitces derived from a long-standing connection with Sweden and, consequently, from Western traditions. Examining both traditions simultaneously we can possibly understand a little more clearly the complexity of civil and women's rights.|