Woman's Suffrage in Asia OrI DANIEL AND ILANA TAIEB HAGERTY

Women's Suffrage in Japan

In Japan’s past, voting was limited to small, local posts and only men were allowed to vote. In the 19th century, a women’s suffrage movement rose, advocating for equal voting rights. These rights were not granted until 1945, when both men and women’s full voting rights were granted after Japan surrendered to the Allied forces and America dissolved the Japanese government and established a new, democratic system which allowed everyone above 18 to vote. The first general democratic election in Japan was held in 1946.

Nowadays, Japan has three types of elections: The election for the house of representatives held every 4 years (these representatives elect the PM amongst themselves), The house of councilors election held every 3 years, and local elections held every four years. All of these elections are open for anyone over the age of 18.

The last house of representatives election was held in 2014, where only 169 of the 1,093 candidates from eight major parties were women — far short of the administration’s stated goal of having 30 percent of public- and private-sector leadership positions filled with women by 2020.

Women's Suffrage in Saudi Arabia

In general, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are not equal to men’s rights. Saudi Arabia is the only country in which women cannot drive and a woman's male "guardian", usually a father, husband, brother or son, can stop her from traveling overseas, marrying, working, studying or having some forms of elective surgery (surgery that is scheduled in advance because it does not involve a medical emergency).

But until recently only men were allowed to vote - women only received the right to vote in January 2015, after King Abdullah announced in 2011 against the judgement of the Grand Mufti (the most senior religious figure in SA) that steps will be taken for women to have a bigger public role, sending more of them to university and encouraging female employment. But the gap is still huge- last election, only 130,000 women voted, while 1.35 million men voted; A total of only 978 women have registered as candidates for different municipal positions versus 5,938 men.

While women's suffrage has in many other countries been a transformative moment in the quest for gender equality, its impact in Saudi Arabia is likely to be more limited due to a wider lack of democracy and strong social conservatism.

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Ori Daniel
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