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Demonstrations in front of the parliament, Ljubljana, March 23 1993. Photo: Tone Stojko. © Muzej za novejšo zgodovino Slovenije [National Museum of Contemporary History], collection Tone Stojko, inv. n. TS19932303_22.

Our researchers dr. Irena Selišnik and dr. Dagmar Wernitznig participated at “Suffrage now” conference on August 13-14 2021. Event was held by Aula Magna, Stockholm University.

About the conference:

This conference commemorates the centennial of the introduction of universal and equal suffrage in Sweden. The aim is to initiate and present research on the introduction of women’s suffrage and its consequences in a comparative and global perspective and bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries in order to share their expertise and experiences and participate in a critical dialogue on women’s suffrage, gender and democracy.

Women’s votes. Hand drawn in flat color. Getty Images


Researcher Irena Selišnik participated at a round table, titled “Gender and Democracy in a Troubled World” along with Mona Lena Krook, June Purvis, Ramola Ramtohul, Marian Sawer and moderator Lenita Freidenvall. She also presented paper, titled “Constraints and Limitations of Women’s Right to Vote in Time of Crisis: Interwar Yugoslavia and theoretical solutions on women’s right to vote in Slovenia”.


In the presentation I will focus on discourse and political ideas on women’s right to vote in Slovenian part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. As Slovenian women in interwar Yugoslavia lost the right to vote in spite great hope after the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians was
established, activities to gain the suffrage intensified in the scope of International women’s organizations that have branches also in Yugoslavia (International Council of Women and Women’s Suffrage Alliance). Through perspective center-periphery organizations we can
there for observe some differentiations in regard to pursue the actions for women’s right to vote however the greatest differences in regard to how passionate should the suffrage be pursued in Yugoslavia were in the chronological terms between 1920’s and 1930’s. In that
time the crisis of different political ideas became evident and different answers for improving democracy were ascending. Part of that was also reflection on the right to vote as it was/is considered as integral cornerstones of the notion of democracy, critical voices in women’s
movement and viewpoints emerged that suffrage should not be as important goal as before and skepticism towards democracy became more acclaimed. In that scope we will there for focus on this different ideas how to solve political crisis (and the role of women’s suffrage in
it) which contained thoughts to incorporate group interests in state governance together with women’s interests or that women should through women’s association influence as critical public and represent mechanism of control over the state. The paper will be based on
historical sources.

Researcher Dagmar Wernitznig held a presentation titled „So much to vote for – Suffrage and Gender in the North-Eastern Adriatic Region during the Greater War“.


But even the peasant women were sufficiently independent to vote against their priests’ advice, for a Slav told me that many of the women had come to the priests for absolution for having voted for Austria.*

My proposed poster presentation attempts to contextualise the aftermath of the First World War at the intersections of newly gained franchise rights for female citizens, plebiscites, nationalism, and iconographies of motherhood. This research is part of a lager project, namely an ERC Advanced Grant, which is entitled ‘Post-War Transitions in Gendered Perspective: The Case of the NorthEastern Adriatic Region’ ( and led by Professor Marta Verginella at the University of Ljubljana. For this specific contribution, I aim to highlight and unpack the Carinthian plebiscite of 1920 with regards to female citizens, who have only been entitled to cast a vote since 1918 after the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy and
the subsequent formation of what later became known as the First Austrian Republic. Within the concept of geographic demarcations, aspects of citizenship, national belonging or affiliation, and minority rights, palpably, were paramount. Hence, the female voting corpus –
in most cases of quantitative significance in post-conflict times, due to the substantial decimation of the male population on battle fields – attained a pertinent part in referendabased rights to self-determination. This poster is designed to illuminate women’s contribution to gender-related and multi-ethnic democratization dynamics during transitional periods after wars, especially in their socially defined roles as maternal caretakers of the family specifically and custodians of the nation as well as bearers of soldier-sons generally. Additionally, the
nexus of maternalism, electoral rights, and propaganda will be analysed trough transnational prisms by incorporating Sarah Wambaugh’s work and writings about this plebiscite and women’s impact on it. The Cincinnati-born Wambaugh (1882–1955), herself an ardent
suffragist, engineered a somewhat unprecedented career as the foremost and global expert on plebiscites within the predominately masculine and patriarchally defined ranks of the League of Nations. (285 words, excl. citation)
* Sarah Wambaugh, ‘Frontiers by Plebiscites,’ Sarah Wambaugh Papers, 1919–1948; 89-M64, box 2, folder 3, 16a. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass

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