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Interwar Fascism and the Franchise

Women's Suffrage and the Ligues

Daniella Sarnoff

This article addresses the fascist leagues' policies and philosophies regarding the political role of women, particularly the question of female suffrage. Unlike the parliamentary Right, which did not attempt to mobilize women until 1935, the fascist leagues envisioned women as key political players as early as 1924. Often invoking female work and sacrifice during the war, as well as women's supposedly superior moral aptitude, the leagues presented themselves as the forces that truly respected women's potential and importance in the state. To the leagues the domestic identities and concerns of women were not only compatible with fascist notions of politics, but rendered women potentially better fascists and citizens. Leaders of the organizations expected women to be wives and mothers, producing more children for France, while at the same time the leagues advocated that women engage in national politics and world affairs.