New Zealand became the first country to legalize a woman's right to vote, in 1893. Women in the U.S. did not achieve suffrage for another 27 years.

Photograph by David Arnold
  • On September 19, 1893, New Zealand granted women the right to vote, the first nation on Earth to do so. Previously, property-owning women had been sporadically allowed to vote in places such as the Pitcarin Islands, Australia, and the U.S. territories of Wyoming and Utah. In New Zealand, suffrage was universal—this included women who did not own property, as well as Maori women. Women were not allowed to stand for elections themselves until 1919.

    Women are still denied suffrage in some parts of the world, such as Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has introduced legislation that would allow women to vote in the 2015 elections, however.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    election Noun

    selection of people to public office by vote.

    legislation Noun

    law, legal act, or statute.

    Maori Noun

    people and culture native to New Zealand.

    property Noun

    goods or materials (including land) owned by someone.

    suffrage Noun

    the right to vote.