Why did the women of France not receive the right to vote until after World War Two?

Why did the women of France not receive the right to vote until after World War Two?


I expect the gender balance distortion caused by the losses in WW1 will have made the politicians reluctant to give the female majority the vote.


Maybe i have an idea about that base on the situation in Québec (French speaking province of Canada).
I would like someone from France to corroborate that idea.
While in Canada, women gain the right to vote in 1917, women in Québec gain the right to vote only in 1940.
It was mostly because of highly conservative catholic ideas.

Here is a quote to prove it : Cardinal Louis-Nazaire Bégin: “The entry of women into politics, even if only by suffrage, would be a misfortune for our province. Nothing justifies it, neither natural law nor the social interest; the authorities in Rome approve of our views, which are those of our entire episcopate.”

So, i guess it was the same for France.

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My wife agrees with him. That’s among her favorite quotes actually.

France allready in 1905 Made a law on a rigid separation of state and church (Laïcité). So it seems is unlikely to me that the unwillingness to grant woman the right to vote in France was because of Catholic Conservatism. 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State - Wikipedia


Perhaps Anna Deinhard will give the answer to this riddle in an episode of ‘On the homefront’ of 1944, unless it will be given earlier in an episode of ‘Out of the foxholes’.


All the following is from Wiki.

After World War I, French women continued demanding political rights, and despite the Chamber of Deputies being in favor, the Senate continuously refused to analyze the law proposal. Surprisingly, the political left, who were generally supportive of women’s emancipation, repeatedly opposed the right to vote for women because they would support conservative positions.

Some dates, just before WW2 :

June 19, 1928, March 21, 1929, June 26, 1931: three times refusal of the Senate to put the question of the vote for women on the agenda.
1936: in July, the Chamber of Deputies voted unanimously in favor of women’s suffrage (475 against 0), but the text was never placed on the Senate’s agenda. The Popular Front appoints three women under-secretaries of state: Suzanne Lacore, Irène Joliot-Curie and Cécile Brunschvicg.

If the radical party is reluctant to engage firmly in favor of the vote for women, it is because of the doubts it expresses about their autonomy vis-à-vis the Church, whose hold will not fail according to it to tip the female vote in favor of right-wing candidates, or even in favor of forces hostile to the regime. Masonic anticlericalism, the main cement of a political formation with otherwise quite disparate positions, thus indirectly reflects on women, perceived as individuals under the influence, and not as independent citizens. Nourished by the founding struggles of the regime, the radicals raise the specter of a still fragile Republic, endangered by the enlargement of the electorate to a population whose political maturity and republican devotion seem doubtful to them.

The support shown by the Pope for the vote for women from 1919 further strengthens in the minds of the radicals the idea that the Catholic Church is trying, through women, to regain an influence on society that is in the process of being lost. If it launched into the campaign in favor of the vote several Catholic women’s organizations, the Pope’s announcement played against the measure among the secular elites of the Republic. The argument of a threatened regime finds new strength in the crisis of February 6, 1934. By bringing to light the hostility and the capacities of action of the enemies of the Republic, it distances itself a little more, in the spirit of the radicals, the expiry of the right to vote of women.

During WW2 :

The Second World War is an acceleration of the debate on the suffrage of women in France. It was within the French Resistance that a debate took place between 1942 and 1944 between the various representatives of the movements, unions, associations and underground parties that made it up. General de Gaulle kicked off the debate in 1942 when, after having received in London for the first time a representative of the internal Resistance movements, Christian Pineau, he offered them a first draft of a political project. . This document, called “Declaration to underground newspapers” contains the proposal to give the right to vote to women but the measure remains unclear. It is in fact affirmed that: “as soon as the enemy is driven out of the territory, the men and women of our region will elect the National Assembly which will decide sovereignly on the destinies of the Nation”.

Secondly, the first resistant institutions begin the debate on the proposal of the leader of Free France. Within the National Council of the Resistance, the opposition of the representative of the radical resistance Paul Bastid prevents a decision being taken. The CNR was in fact operating on the unanimity rule of its members to adopt a proposal. As soon as one of the members, in this case Bastid, threatened to quit the organization if the right to vote for women was adopted, the CNR could no longer deal with the issue.

At the same time, the PCF (French Communist Party) made women’s right to vote one of the pillars of its political propaganda. The Liberation of Corsica between September and October 1943 is accompanied by the organization, by the Communists, of municipal elections by show of hands where women vote but are also elected, although this election does not enter into any specific legal framework. It was not until the establishment of an institution, the Consultative Assembly of Algiers, larger in its composition and based on majority rule, to see the right to vote for women granted.

On April 21, 1944, the right to vote was granted to women in France by an ordinance (after an amendment by the Communist Fernand Grenier) of the French Committee for National Liberation, signed by Charles de Gaulle from Algiers. The right to vote of women is confirmed by the ordinance of October 5 under the Provisional Government of the French Republic, but it is not used until April 29, 1945 for municipal elections, then in October for elections to the constituent Assembly.