These days it seems odd to think that women were once prohibited from voting - It wasn't just women either of course with many denied the ability to vote. This year though some two billion voters across fifty countries will take to the polls and cast their vote.
The first country to grant women the right to vote was New Zealand in 1883; It was the culmination of years of work and only a few months later women went to the polls for the first time.
In contrast, it wasn't until 1920 when America granted the vote to women, and 1928 in Great Britain. The year was 1902 in Australia. It's interesting to note that the last European country to allow women the ability to vote was Switzerland in 1971 - I'm not sure why this is the case though.
In Australia it is compulsory to vote if over the age of eighteen which I don't think I agree with. I prefer the American system where it's a choice. The reason is that many who only vote because they have to may not fully understand, or care, about the policies and parties they vote for - Casting their vote simply because they want to avoid the fine. Many times I've heard people say they got the name ticked off, drew a smiley face on the ballot paper and walked away. These are often the loudest complainer's when policy doesn't go their way also. I think a system where people vote if they choose to may be better.
Regardless of the system I think it's pretty great that a country as small and out of the way as New Zealand was the first to give women the ability to vote. It took a little while for the ripples to work their way outward but they did eventually.