Å framstille kvinner som en mer ensartet politisk gruppe enn menn, er felles for mange av beretningene om kvinnestemmeretten i Norge. Ser man på kvinners og menns valgadferd før stemmeretten ble gjort allmenn i 1913, trer imidlertid andre fortellinger fram – fortellinger der kjønnstilhørigheten ikke nødvendigvis skilte enkelindividers politiske opptreden. Ved hjelp av valgdata og analyser av bredere politiske og økonomiske prosesser diskuterer artikkelen de første valgene der kvinner fikk stemme etter censusprinsippet. Vårt hovedargument er at 1800-tallets økonomiske og sivilrettslige liberalisering fikk stor betydning for kvinnestemmerettens utvikling og anvendelse uten at dette har kommet tilstrekkelig til syne i de historiske framstillingene om samme tema.
In the parliamentary election of 1909, 295,000 Norwegian women were given the right to vote for the first time in a reform enacted two years earlier. Women with a taxable income – either in their own or their spouse’s right – above a certain threshold were granted suffrage and as many as 163,000 cast their ballot. The mobilisation was decisive in the victory of the conservative parties for two reasons. First, women in general tended to vote more conservatively than men and, second, the tendency was even more pronounced in the middle and upper strata of women receiving political citizenship on a national level for the first time. This article discusses «the forgotten female elections» prior to the introduction of universal female suffrage in June 1913 in the light of broader political and economic processes. It is suggested that women’s political mobilisation was closely linked to their economic mobilisation in the previous decades. Liberalisation of the Norwegian economy from the mid-nineteenth century onwards integrated a considerable number of women into the market economy. Their changing role in the urban economy, fostered partly by government reform and partly by transformation in the real economy, is important in our understanding why the elections prior to universal suffrage were characterised by very high turnouts among city women. The article suggests that more knowledge about the female elections before 1913 challenges the established historical narratives of female suffrage in Norway, narratives that have been made with universal suffrage as the point of departure in 1913. Indeed, 1913 was the year when the Norwegian Parliament granted political citizenship to all women, but at that point women had in fact already been exercising decisive influence in parliamentary elections. The election of 1909 was the breakthrough for women as a political resource in Norway.
Da norske kvinner endelig ble innrømmet formelt likestilt statsborgerskap i 1913, vant de en sentral demokratisk rettighet. På kort sikt fikk stemmeretten liten betydning for politisk representasjon av kvinners interesser. Valgdeltakelsen økte blant kvinner, men ikke før på 1970-tallet nådde kvinnerepresentasjonen i stortingsvalg over ti prosent. Stemmerettsbevegelsen, som hadde hatt sitt viktigste grunnlag i bygdefeminismen, representerte imidlertid en bred politisk kultur som siden slutten av 1800-tallet hadde tematisert kvinners manglende samfunnsmessige medborgerskap. Stemmerettsbevegelsen bidro til å befeste og utvikle kvinners politiske rolle i organisasjonssamfunnet fram mot 1970-tallet. De kvinnedominerte organisasjonene i det sivile samfunnet fremmet kvinners interesser, og de fikk en ledende rolle i utviklingen av velferdsstaten.
Norwegian women gained equal citizenship in 1913. The unanimous vote of the national parliament was celebrated by women’s networks of organizations as a major step towards political empowerment and liberation of women. However, although universal suffrage led to growing participation by women in elections, it was not until the 1970s that women’s representation in parliament exceeded ten per cent. Representation of women’s political interests, therefore, depended on their powerful role in civil society. Since the 1890s, the claim for universal suffrage had met heavy resistance rooted in patriarchal structures, institutions and norms. However, suffrage unconditioned by income or social status was forcefully argued by a complex network of women and women-dominated organizations with a stronghold in the peripheral communities. This movement represented a broad feminist inspired political culture that not only articulated formal citizenship, the right to vote and represent, but indeed a wide range of aspects of social citizenship. While political representation of women’s interests through traditional political channels evolved slowly, even experiencing a set-back for women’s movements after 1913, this political culture materialized in large organizations exerting powerful pressure for the development of universal welfare services. In this process, universal suffrage legitimized extensive participation in society, and in the making of the Norwegian welfare state. From the 1970s on, the momentum again shifted towards political representation, as it proved harder for women to influence policy making through the voluntary organizations. While representation in parliament and political bodies increased, the number of female top leaders remained, and remains, low, however, and women are still overrepresented in low-wage jobs and underrepresented in politics. Thus, one could claim that women’s full citizenship is yet far from realized.
Folkeforbundet har ikke vært et tema i norsk kvinnehistorie. Men Folkeforbundet spilte faktisk en rolle i kvinnekampen, både nasjonalt og internasjonalt. I Genève fantes det en politisk arena hvor kvinner hadde adgang på lik linje med menn, og i Folkeforbundet ble kvinnens rettigheter satt på dagsordenen.
I den norske delegasjonen til Folkeforbundet var det en sammenhengende kvinnelig representasjon i hele mellomkrigstiden, og artikkelen viser hvordan kjønn fremstår som det avgjørende kriteriet når henholdsvis Kristine Bonnevie, Martha Larsen Jahn, Ingeborg Aas og Johanne Reutz [Gjermoe] etterfulgte hverandre som medlemmer av den norske delegasjonen.
The League of Nations has never been a topic of main interest in the writing of women’s history in Norway, but at a time when women had just been granted the right to vote, when women still had not been granted access to the Diplomatic Service, the Norwegian delegation to the League of Nations always included a woman. The League of Nations was regarded by women and women’s organisations as a new and promising platform for change, since right from the outset the question of equal representation of the sexes had been raised. Article 7 of the Covenant stated that «all positions under or in connection with the League, including the Secretariat, shall be open to men and women». That was in principle and, as the article shows, the reason Kristine Bonnevie, Martha Larsen Jahn, Ingeborg Aas and Johanne Reutz became members of Norwegian delegations to the League of Nations was simply the fact that a successive number of Norwegian Prime and Foreign Ministers regarded the claim for women’s participation to be reasonable. Reasonable given the limitation of one woman at a time and given the fact that these women all had special responsibility for what could be called typical «women’s issues»: social questions, slavery, health, children, drugs, etc. This was accepted by the women’s organisations themselves, since, in their claim for women being represented in delegations, they also argued that this should be so not just on the basis of the principle of equal rights, but also because women in general had a special role in politics where social and humanitarian issues were concerned, and thus also a responsibility.