Reframing Suffrage Narratives: Pacific Women, Political Voice, and Collective Empowerment

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    Dominant narratives of women’s suffrage have been shaped in ways that marginalize Pacific women’s experiences. Such narratives have emphasized the struggles of Global North women to achieve individualized political empowerment, primarily through the right to vote, from the late 19th century. By measures of struggle, individual empowerment and temporality, Pacific women have been characterized as passive recipients of the vote in the late 20th century. In this article, we contest these narratives through foregrounding Pacific women’s political contributions, and reconsidering how suffrage is defined in Global South contexts. By revisiting the Pacific women’s suffrage story and highlighting activism that mirrors and extends the strategies adopted by suffragists around the world to claim political voice, we put forward a more comprehensive picture of women’s franchise in the Pacific. In doing so, we uncover tensions between collective conceptualizations of political empowerment and the individual rights-centred approach favoured by dominant suffrage narratives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)392-411
    JournalJournal of Pacific History
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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