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A century of women’s voting rights in Denmark

In 1908, Danish women were granted the right to vote in local elections. In the first election in 1909, women won 1 per cent of the seats. Today, women have 27 per cent of the seats in local authorities. Still Denmark is behind the other Nordic countries with a representation of more than 40 per cent women in national and local politics.

The centenary of Danish women's struggle for suffrage is marked and celebrated in style with a festive parade through Copenhagen on Sunday 20 April.

 
 

KVINFO/16.4.2008  On 20 April 1908, the electoral law allowing women to participate in local elections was passed. At the following year’s elections, on 12 March, 127 women were voted into office. In total they won a little over 1% of the seats contested; the highest percentage was in the municipality of Copenhagen where 10 women corresponded to 17.5% of seats, whereas the 23 women returned by the rural districts of Jutland corresponded to only 0.5% of their local authority seats.

Women’s entry into local politics was greeted with much enthusiasm and was celebrated by, for example, the, at the time, widely-reported "festivities" held in Copenhagen City Hall, an event at which all the speakers were – sensationally – women; as one of the organisers said:

“Women have had to listen to men for all these years – and so on this occasion we would like to return the favour!”

In 1913 Lovise Nielsen became the country’s first female chair of a parish council, and in 1950 local politician Eva Madsen became the first female mayor. 

Not enough women in local politics
Another six years were to pass until, in 1915, women were also granted the right to vote in national elections. In 1918 the first four women were elected to the Danish parliament. There have always been more women in parliament than in local authorities. In parliament today, 37% of MPs are women, and 26% in the present government are women. In comparison, 27% of politicians in local authorities are women. 

Women’s representation in the other Nordic countries now stands at over 40%, in national and local politics alike. Denmark is also losing ground to its other European neighbours.

Translation: Gaye Kynoch

 
Read more:
Danish women's struggle for suffrage 1915 
 
Statistics on women in politics:
 
April 20th events
Copenhagen:

Parade in celebration of women's suffrage:

3.15 pm from Frederiksberg Town Hall towards Copenhagen Town Hall Square - join the parade through Copenhagen

4.30 pm Copenhagen Town Hall Square: entertainment, food and drink for sale, information booths, music and speeches.

7 pm Open air concert with Anne Linnet, Szhirley, Clemens and others artists

The parade is organised by women's unions and organisations, political parties, sports organisa-tions and many, many others

Aarhus:

Speeches, music, entertainment and exhibitions, for more information contact
The Women's Museum

 
 
     



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