Resolutions on Women’s Suffrage

The resolutions of the 1st International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907.

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

RESOLUTIONS ON WOMEN‘S SUFFRAGE

1st International Conference of Socialist Women
Socialist 2nd International
17.08.1907

Reproduced by
The Red Flag

This Resolution was adopted at the 1st International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Stuttgart in August 1907.

RESOLUTIONS ON WOMEN‘S SUFFRAGE

1

The demand for women‘s suffrage arises from the economic and social transformation caused by the capitalist system of production, especially, however, from the revolutionizing of woman‘s labor, of her position and her mind. It is by its nature a consequence of the bourgeois-democratic principle, which calls for the setting aside of all social distinctions that do not rest on property, and proclaims in the sphere of public as well as of private life the complete legal equality of all adults as a right of personality. For this reason women‘s suffrage has always been demanded by individual thinkers in connection with every struggle which the bourgeoisie ever took up for the democratization of political rights as a necessary condition of their political emancipation and class rule. Efficient force as a demand from the masses has, however, first accrued to it from the increasing number of women who have to earn their living, and especially owing to the numbers of the female proletariat who have been drawn into the modern industry. Women‘s suffrage is necessarily bound up with the economic emancipation of woman from the household and her economic independence of the family on the strength of her activity as an earner.

From the standpoint of principle the active and passive suffrage means for the female sex, as a whole, the recognition of their social maturity; from the practical point of view it is the means to obtain political power, so as to remove the legal and social hindrances which stand in the way of the development of woman‘s life and activity. But owing to the class antagonisms, which are just as influential in the world of women as in that of men, the value and main object of the suffrage is different for women of the different classes. The value of the suffrage as a weapon in the social struggle is in inverse proportion to the size of the property possessed by the individual and the social power conferred by that property. Its main object differs, according to the class position; it is either the complete legal equality of the female sex, or it is the social emancipation of the proletariat through the conquest of political power for the purpose of abolishing class rule and bringing about the socialist society which alone affords a guarantee for the complete emancipation of woman as a human being.

In consequence of the class antagonisms between women, the bourgeois women‘s movement does not march united, with closed ranks and the highest development of force, in support of universal women‘s suffrage. The proletarian women, consequently, must rely on their own strength and on that of their class for the conquest of their full political rights. The practical needs of their struggle for emancipation, together with their historic insight and sense of justice, make the proletariat the most consistent champion of the complete political emancipation of the female sex. Social-Democracy, as the political fighting organization of the class-conscious proletariat, supports, therefore, women‘s suffrage both in principle and in practice. The question of women‘s suffrage gains increased importance as the class war increases in severity. In the ruling reactionary parties the tendency grows to strengthen the political power of property by the introduction of a limited women‘s suffrage. The limited women‘s suffrage is not so much to be looked on as the first step to the political emancipation of the female sex, as far more the last step in the social emancipation of property. It emancipates woman not as a personality but as the bearer of a certain income and property, and thus becomes in effect a plural suffrage for the propertied classes, leaves large numbers of the proletarian women without political rights and in consequence does not mean the political equality of the entire female sex. For the proletariat the necessity grows of revolutionizing the minds and of placing their adult members, without distinction of sex, well-armed in the front of the battle. The fight for universal women‘s suffrage is the best means of making the situation serve the interest of the proletariat‘s struggle for emancipation.

In accordance with these considerations the 1st International Conference of Socialist Women declares:

The socialist women‘s movement of all countries repudiates the limited women‘s suffrage as a falsification of and insult to the principle of the political equality of the female sex. It fights for the only living concrete expression of this principle: the universal women‘s suffrage which is open to all adults and bound by no conditions of property, payment of taxes or degrees of education or any other qualifictions, which exclude members of the working class from the enjoyment of the right. They carry on their struggle not in alliance with the bourgeois women‘s righters, but in alliance with the Socialist Parties, and these fight for women‘s suffrage as one of the demands which from the point of view of principle and practice is most important for a complete democratization of the suffrage.

The Socialist Parties in all countries are bound to fight with energy for the introduction of women‘s suffrage. Consequently their fight for the democratization of suffrage in the legislative and administrative bodies in the State and Commune must especially be fought also as a struggle in favor of women‘s suffrage and this demand they must raise in their propaganda as well as in Parliament and insist on it with all their power. In countries where men‘s suffrage is already far advanced or completely achieved the Socialist Parties must also take up the fight for the universal women‘s suffrage, and with that naturally put forward all the demands which remain in order to obtain complete citizenship for the male proletariat.

It is the duty of the socialist women‘s movement in all countries to take part in all struggles which the Socialist Parties fight for the democratization of the suffrage, and that with all possible energy, but also to see that in this fight the question of the universal women‘s suffrage is insisted on with due regard to its importance of principle and practie.

2

That as all socialists recognize that the freedom of women must include both economic as well as political freedom before it can be complete, every effort should be made by socialists to assist the women‘s suffrage, the women‘s trade-union and the women‘s cooperative movements in their respective countries and to arouse the workers in all these movements to the necessity for uniting together for the realization of socialism.

3

That the women of the socialist and labor movement, standing especially for the protection of home and family and believing that the interests of the different countries are identical, and not antagonistic, urge that strong efforts should be made to spread anti-militry feeling and to promote international fraternity.

4

That this Conference urges the adoption of a system whereby necessitous mothers shall receive monetary assistance at the time of the birth of children, and whereby mothers with children dependent upon them shall receive continued adequate support to enable them to attend to their children without having to work for wages.