Beginning today, the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington, DC, in tandem with the National Council of Women in Finland, will celebrate 100 years of full political rights for women in Finland. The museum will exhibit photographs and other articles that trace the triumph of Finnish women’s rights starting in 1907, when women gained not only the right to vote but also to run for and hold elective office.
Finland — the first European country to extend the vote to women — has always been a forerunner for the fights for women’s rights. American women didn’t win the vote for another 15 years. Finland’s current second-term president, Tarja Halonen, is a woman, and women compose 38 percent of the Finnish parliament — compared to a worldwide average of just 16.6 percent.
According to the Sewall-Belmont website, the museum “explores the evolving role of women and their contributions to society through the continuing, and often untold, story of women’s pursuit for equality.” The building also serves as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party, which was founded by Equal Rights Amendment author and suffragist Alice Paul and celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The exhibit will continue through December 15.