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Women suffrage in Denmark – new stamp issue released

Women suffrage in Denmark – new stamp issue released
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StampNews.com would like to inform our readers about a new stamp issue introduced by Post Danmark. The item painted by Lise Malinovsky marks the centenary or women suffrage. The painting is a contemporary interpretation of the march organized in celebration of women gaining the right to vote and stand for election to the Folketing and Landsting. The issue was unveiled and put into circulation on the 13th of June.

It was a huge victory for Danish women when they won the right to vote and stand for election in 1915. Before had gone decades of campaigning, which had mobilized thousands of women and which culminated in a large march on the royal residence Amalienborg on 5 June 1915.

CAMPAIGN FOR POLITICAL INFLUENCE

Democracy was introduced in Denmark with the Constitutional Act of 5 June 1849. However, the democracy only applied to men – and not even all of them. To be entitled to vote and stand for electoral office, you had to have a clean criminal record, be self-supporting, over 30 years of age and head of your own household. For several generations, schoolchildren had the seven groups deemed unsuitable for participating in democracy impressed upon them: females, fools, felons, servants, the poor, bankrupts and foreigners.

The debate on women's influence became an issue on the political agenda when the Liberal politician Fredrik Bajer introduced a bill on giving women the right to vote in 1886. One of his arguments was that women should not be excluded from political life like children and criminals.

The bill was passed in the Folketing, but rejected by the Landsting, which back then had the final say. The Conservative politician Carl Ploug said: "I certainly do not think that women are particularly suited to legislative activities. [...] Nor do I think that ordinary women as a whole really want to be able to vote".

FIRST BREAKTHROUGH

Outside the Rigsdagen however, the emerging women's liberation movement was busy pointing out that women were extremely suited to politics. In 1871, the Danish Women's Society was formed as the first feminist society, later to be followed by several suffrage societies, including Kvindelig Fremskridtsforening (Women's Progressive Society).

However, it was not until the Danish political system changed in 1901 that things really started to shift. The first breakthroughs came in 1903 when women became entitled to vote in the parochial church council elections, and in 1908 when women won the right to vote in the municipal elections and were thus able to be elected to the local town councils. At the municipal elections the following year, 50 per cent of women went to the ballot box, and 127 women were elected to the municipal town councils. Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before women would also gain the right to vote and stand for election to the parliamentary chambers Folketing and the Landsting.

CHEERED WITH FLAGS AND FLOWERS

With the large parade through Copenhagen on 5 June 1915, more than 12,000 women celebrated that they had finally become

part of democracy. Wearing long white dresses and red sashes, the women signalled the birth of a new Denmark. The march was tightly choreographed around twokey events of the day: The king's signing of the new constitution and the meeting in the Rigsdagen, where prime minister Zahle handed the signed constitution to the chairman of the Folketing. In a calm and dignified manner, the women took to the streets of Copenhagen and were cheered with flags, rounds of applause and flowers before quietly withdrawing again.

WOMEN ONLY

On 5 June 2015, the march through Copenhagen is being repeated, following the same route as 100 years ago. Women are invited to contact the National Museum of Denmark if they would like help styling themselves in 1915 dress and to join the march which is arranged by the Danish Women's Society and the National Museum of Denmark.

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