Moina Shaiq discusses the role of women in Islam, claiming that they had the right to vote before American women did. In point of fact, the only Muslim women who were granted the right to vote before American women received it in 1920 were in the new Soviet republics. The Crimean People’s Republic, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and the Kyrgyz SSR were all under the rule of local Communists, atheists who granted women the right to vote precisely to weaken Muslim power. Local Muslims were not pleased that women were given the right to vote, but the Communists simply ran roughshod over them.
With the exception of Albania, all the Muslim states that throughout the 1920s and early 1930s gave women the right to vote were Soviet republics, under Communist rule, where the suppression of Islam was state policy. These include the Kyrgyz SSR, the Tadzhik SSR, the Turkmen SSR, the Kazakh SSR, and the renamed Azerbaijan SSR.
One Muslim state, Turkey, did grant women the right to vote — in local elections — in 1930, and in national elections in 1934. But this should not be attributed to Muslim desires. Turkey was then ruled by the determinedly secular Ataturk, who granted women the right to vote as part of his campaign of secularization, including complete legal equality of the sexes, which was enacted not because of, but despite, the power of the Turkish ulema.
Another fact left out of Moina Shaiq’s presentation is that the major Muslim states gave women the right to vote very late. Syria granted women the right to vote in 1949, Egypt and Lebanon granted it only in 1957, Iran did so in 1963, Jordan in 1974, Iraq in 1980, Kuwait in 2005, Saudi Arabia as late as 2015.