Political Legacies

  • Jane S. Jensen


After women acquired the right to vote and seek public office, the first to enter the political arena were not those who had played key roles in the struggles as they had become disillusioned because of the modest gains made by women.1 Instead, widows and daughters of prominent politicians were the first to take advantage of the newly acquired rights. For example, one-third of the women who entered the U.S. Congress between 1916 and 1963 were widows of politicians.2 Of the 26 women to win a parliamentary election in Ireland before 1981, 13 were widows of male members of parliament or male members of the independence struggle, 4 were daughters, 3 were sisters, and 1 was a granddaughter.3 In Sri Lanka, of the 17 women elected to the parliament between 1947 and 1977, more than one-half were elected as a replacement for a husband or father 4


Prime Minister Vice President Political Arena Male Member Parliamentary Election 
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    Michael Gallagher, “166 Who Rule? The Dail Deputies of November 1982,” Economic and Social Review, 15 (July 1984), p. 253.Google Scholar
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    Manik de Silva, “A Birthday Bandwagon,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 116 (Apr. 30, 1982), p. 34.Google Scholar
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    For a similar interpretation of Bandaranaike’s assumption of a political role after the assassination of her husband, see Krishna Prasanna Mukerji, Madame Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Colombo: M.D. Gunasenu & Co., 1960).Google Scholar

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© Jane S. Jensen 2008

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  • Jane S. Jensen

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