Compare and Contrast Essay of Women's Suffrage Movements in South America and Europe from 1750-1914

Updated on March 3, 2013
French suffragettes
French suffragettes | Source
Olympe De Gougues: leading French suffragette
Olympe De Gougues: leading French suffragette | Source


Throughout history, women have played a vital role in society. From nurturing family life in the home to fighting in revolutions to participating in politics, women have shown constant bravery and sacrifice in the face of the world’s adversity. Although today, women enjoy illustrious careers in business and politics, this was not always the case. By comparing and contrasting women’s suffrage movements in Western Europe and the lack there of in Latin America, we can see a clear picture of women’s roles from 1750 to 1914.


Women’s roles in Western Europe and Latin America can be compared in that neither group of women had many rights. In Western Europe, specifically France, women supported charities, worked as teachers, and were able to participate in political discussion in French salons (places of gathering much like coffee houses) but did not have the right to vote, divorce, or work in politics. French women were allowed to work in small businesses, often alongside their husband, but this was only common amongst lower class women and would never have been acceptable with the aristocracy. Even after the first French Revolution, which was meant to be a fight for total equality, this remained the case. French women would not gain the right to vote until the 1940’s, but, by 1894, women in Britain and Scotland were given the right to vote in local elections as long as they were married and owned property. In Latin America there was no revolution for freedom, as there was in France. Brazil was handed its independence by Portugal without any need of a rebellion. Therefore, women in Latin America were content to remain in the position they always had, in the home. While Latin American women did gain the newfound freedom to participate in political discussion, much like the women in French salons, they still did not have the right to vote. Cultural hindrances also kept Latin American women from attaining positions in politics or business. Latin American women were expected to follow the Catholic cultural belief that women should improve society as wives and mothers rather than in politics or other prominent positions. Women’s roles in Western Europe and Latin America were very similar in that neither region expected women to work outside of the home, and some parts of Western Europe, like Latin America, still had not given women the right to vote by 1914.


Although women’s roles were very similar in Western Europe and Latin America the mindset behind women’s roles was very different. Although most countries in Western Europe did not allow women to vote from 1750 to 1914, it was apparent that the tides were changing. Unlike in Latin America, women in Europe were fighting for suffrage and demanding rights. During the first French Revolution, women demanded the right to bear arms, so they could participate in the rebellion. After the new, democratic, French leadership wrote the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,” a woman named Olympe de Gouges wrote the “Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizen.” Her declaration included the right to vote, divorce, own property in marriage, be educated, and have a career. Although the men in government did not take this declaration seriously, it was obvious that the fight for women’s suffrage in Europe was not going away. Slowly but surely women began gaining rights in the Balkans, the Pacific, and, just a few years after 1914, in Western Europe. Although women’s suffrage did not become fully realized in Europe until after the period between 1750 to 1914, it was gaining momentum and would come to fruition soon after. However, in Latin America women’s suffrage was not a large movement and women did not gain the right to vote until the 1930s, with some restrictions. This was probably because there was no revolution in Latin America to inspire women to fight for their rights. Revolution was happening everywhere in Europe, but Brazil was given their independence by Portugal, probably because Portugal was so weak after the Napoleonic Wars that they would not have been able to handle a rebellion in Brazil, if one occurred. Although women had similar roles in Western Europe and Latin America from 1750 to 1914, the women themselves had different mindsets toward women’s suffrage, and the attitude toward women’s rights was very different.


Overall, women’s roles in Western Europe and Latin America were quite similar, but the main difference was the desire for change in Europe where there was none in the Latin realm. Despite hindrances, the women of Western Europe and Latin America, during the mid-eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, paint a clear picture of women’s roles, bravery, and sacrifice from 1750 to 1914.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      S Williams 

      5 years ago

      Nice article, but Latin America did have many revolutions throughout this period. You chose Brazil to show that it didn't but that was an exception, not a rule. Haiti, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Gran Colombia, Central America, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, The Dominican Republic, and more, all had to fight bloody wars for independence. It was not in any way handed to them. Brazil just got lucky that Portugal was so weak, but the rest were originally Spanish and French colonies.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      7 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent history and comparative analysis of these two suffrage movements, MasonZgoda. Western Europe's movement compares to our movement though we may have been slower.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)