Political rights of women occupy a special place in the learning of human rights and in the current law as they provide a full participation in public life and in the implementation of state power. Woman’s discrimination has existed in the area of political rights.
Women did not have equal political rights with men and were not allowed to take part in government. These problems can be solved by removing gender discrimination and understanding the fact that women and men have equal political rights. Women should participate in elections and referendums. They can be elected to various elected bodies. Women have the right to formulate and implement national policy and to hold government positions at all levels; to participate in non-governmental organisations and associations, which are concerned with the public and political life of the country. Internationally, women should have the opportunity to represent their country and participate in the work of international organisations without any discrimination. All these reforms have been already provided in many countries, and one can believe they will be provided in whole world as soon as possible.
Parpart, Connelly, and Barriteau (2000) stated that the seeds of the women-and-development concept were planted during the 1950s and 1960s.
At that time, 50 countries got freedom from colonialism. The women participated in the independence movement. They were sure that they should join men in order to build new nations.
According to Janet Momsem (2010), gender relations have been interrogated in terms of the way development policies change the balance of power between women and men.
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies, which are aimed at defining, creating, and protecting equal political, economic, and social rights of women. This includes a commitment to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminist is a person who is an advocate or supporter of human equality.
According to Lise Ostergaard (1992), women represent powerful human resources in development, they perform the major part of the world’s labour and they do so under very underprivileged conditions.
In the U.S., Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) raised up her voice for protecting women's rights first. She is considered the first American feminist. Her famous phrase entered the history “We do not start obey the laws, in which decision we were not participated, and power, which does not represent of our interests”. According to Mary Ellen Snodgrass (2006), Abigail Smith Adams envisioned democracy as the first liberation of women.
In the UK, Wollstonecraft Mary (1759-1797) put forward a demand of civil equality of women in her book Protection of Women (1792). According to Maria J. Falco (1996), Mary Wollstonecraft argued that women were equal to men as human beings and as citizens, she also insisted that women’s special place in the political community was to be recognised.
The organised movement began in 1848 when in Seneca Falls (NY, USA), the Congress passed a law to protect the rights of women under the slogan "All men and women are created equal." John Stuart Mill (1870) published his work The Subjection of Women, in which he noted that "the legal subordination of one sex to the other – is wrong in itself, and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other."
Since the mid-19th century, the opposition of liberal European and American movements for women's rights and Marxism originated. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did not consider the topic of oppression based on sex as an important aspect of their theory. Their views did not include the analysis of women's social experience. Their followers saw themselves as representatives of the interests of all the oppressed without distinction of sex.
The views of Marx and Engels laid the foundation for developed later socialist and Marxist feminism. Female labour has always been in the focus of Marxist theme. Appreciation of the importance of economic factors in ensuring the independence and equality, history (consideration of the rights and privileges only in a historical context) and, therefore, understanding of the historicity of any ideology (including the ideology of male preference) enriched feminism theoretically and methodologically.
Since the mid-19th century, in the Old and the New World educated women of the privileged class began actively to incorporate into social life, demanding political equality. The main centres were in the second half of the 19th century in the UK and the U.S. Therefore, the English term “suffrage”, which means the right to vote at all, went down in history as the definition of political direction in feminism.
The first permanent group of supporters and fans of the need to give women the right to vote in the UK was Sheffield Association for Female Suffrage. It was established in 1851. Till 1867, in Manchester Society Women's Suffrage was created with the active participation of Lydia Becker and Richard Pankhurst. Society activists, who were led by L. Becker, launched intense distribute propaganda, starting publication of Women's suffrage magazine and won popularity and credibility over a short period. In 1868, company was transformed into the National Federation of the Suffrage Societies (NFSC) that brought together 5000 members during one year. Due to the unique activity of its members in several U.S. states, women were allowed to vote (in 1869 in Wyoming, in 1893 in Colorado, in 1896 in Idaho and Utah). In 1888, feminists of various countries united in the "International Council of Women". Supporters of the struggle for the right to vote made its significant part.
At the end of the century, the British Parliament passed a law that gave the right to secured unmarried women to enter universities, medical schools, to own property and manage it (since 1882), and in 1894, it gave women the right to vote in local elections.
However, adoption of the law on the right of women to participate not only in local, but also in parliamentary elections was postponed. This led to some frustration of liberal methods. Dissatisfied people united around a radical feminist Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Evelyn and Kristabel. Elizabeth Crawford (2001) stated that “Emmeline Pankhurst joined the executive committee of the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1880”. In 1903, the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage was conversed to Women’s Social and Political Union, which spawned a new direction in suffragist – militarism. It promoted aggressive techniques to draw attention to the requirements of the right to vote for women. Women chained themselves to railings in public places, set up unauthorised rallies, smashed windows of government buildings with stones, and announced a hunger strike in prison as defiance.
After World War II, one of the important tasks of the women's movement was fighting for the actual realisation of women's rights recognised by law.
Feminist movements differ by the ideology. There are liberal, socialist, Marxist, and radical feminist movements.
Liberal feminism still has the largest number of supporters. Its revival is associated with the book of American feminist Betty Friedan Feminine Mystique (1963), which argues that the modern white American women have not equal opportunities with men according to the realisation of the rights prescribed by law.
Radical feminism, which was formed in the 20th century, is the brightest direction in feminism currently. Radical feminists consider women as a biological "class" that is discriminated and exploited, which is a conceptual model for the study of other forms of oppression (A. Dzhahhar and P. Rosenberg).
Feminism has many meanings. Its number is growing all the time – the movement for gender equality, involvement of women in all fields of science and society, understanding the differences between male and female, and overcoming these differences. However, feminism arose from awareness of woman and her right to self-determination.
The political changes, which feminism brought in the past, have changed the society much more than in all previous centuries, especially it has changed human rights. Feminism as an ideological and political movement has changed the outlook of the society. There was a great revolution that destroyed biological man and biological woman, or at least led to the fact that biological difference between them became generally insignificant for social role organisation. Feminists have reached women’s right to vote in elections, a wide choice of occupations with wages, which are more or less comparable to the men’s salary of the same profession, the right to apply for a divorce, the right of women to have control over their own bodies, and the right to decide what medical interventions for them are permissible, including selecting contraception and safe abortion, and many other social changes. The history and evolution of feminism have given the public an opportunity to understand that equality is not the same number of women and men in parliament. It is freedom from stereotypes to choose their path. Currently, feminism remains an important social movement that has achieved the greatest success in the field of culture. Gender inequality persists in the focus of feminism in all its forms. Equality of men and women is the question of equality of human existence. Historical experience requires respecting human rights irrespective of gender.
Women play an important role not only in state politics, but in providing international peace and security. Pierson (1987) stated that despite the frequent stereotypical association of women with pacifism, women did not find it easy to work for peace.
According to Elizabeth J. Porter (2007), all women are not natural peacemakers; some of them are aggressive combatants, particularly in Algeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.
By the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the Security Council recognised the importance of promoting a gender perspective at all stages of peace processes, including peacekeeping, peace-building, and post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution gives impetus to the work of the United Nations, civil society, and all other stakeholders on the serial issues of peace and security with a gender perspective. To maintain and strengthen peace and security, it is important to take measures, which are aimed at meeting the needs of women and their equal participation and full involvement in mediation and negotiation processes in all aspects of maintenance.
According to Betty Reardon (1993), the United Nations Declaration on the Participation of Women in Promoting International Peace and Cooperation makes it evident that UN considers women’s civil and political participation essential to peace.
With the implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) of the Security Council, significant results have been achieved, including increasing protection of civilians in armed conflicts, including women and girls, and enhancing the participation of women in the processes of peace and security. However, the situation is far from being satisfactory and is still characterised by difficulties and problems, especially in the post-conflict phase, where the potential contribution of women to peace-building is limited due to their exclusion from decision-making, an incomplete account of their needs, and insufficient funding.
The resolution calls to ensure equal and full participation of women in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and urges to increase the participation of women and to ensure gender mainstreaming in all activities in the field of peace-building. In the development of the ideas set out in resolution 1325, the Security Council adopted resolution 1889 (2009), which called for further expansion of women's participation in political processes and the development of indicators to assess progress in the implementation of resolution 1325.
Nowadays, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is supporting women's implementation, peace, and security in at least 37 countries. Its activities include support for developing women’s peace unions and helping prepare for implications of the peace process. UN supports work with peacekeepers in order to detect and prevent sexual violence and supports creating security and justice institutions that protect women and girls from violence and discrimination. It implements initiatives to promote public services that respond to the needs of women, ensure their access to economic opportunities, and build women’s implication in public decision-making at local and national levels.
Women have proved that the problem of global nature is not the subject of just rude, harsh, critical men’s minds, but also the one of fragile and tender women's hearts. It is said that a woman and politics are two things that are incompatible, but one can see the opposite again and again. In recent years, there has been a tendency for the independence of women. Men’s qualities, such as protecting and making decisions, appear weaker and weaker while women are increasingly becoming responsible for themselves and for their life.
Now, there are six women presidents in the world. In addition, there are three ruling Queens in the world: Elizabeth II (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Beatrix (Netherlands), and Margrethe II (Denmark). Slogan "Woman – for President" has been not frightening. On the contrary, it is popular in various countries.
The problem of gender inequality has gotten its consistent development for several past centuries. Women as a social group have been virtually excluded from the realm of "high politics" until the XXth century. As a result of the struggle, women all over the world, especially in the European and Scandinavian countries, have political and social rights and have created their own associations, movements, have begun to play an active role in international relations.