Postpone the Woman’s Vote
October 1, 1931 — Before the Court, Palacio de las Cortes, Madrid, Spain
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to ask the House to pay respectful attention to the problem being discussed here, because I believe that it is not a minor problem, nor one that we should pass over lightly. The female vote is being discussed at this time, and it is significant that a woman like me, who does nothing more than render a fervent cult of work, should get up this afternoon and tell the House simply that the female vote should be postponed. That I think this is not the time to give the vote to Spanish women. This from a woman who, at the critical moment of saying it, renounces an ideal. I want to emphasize to the House that the fact that two women who are gathered here have different opinions means absolutely nothing, because within the same parties and the same ideologies there are different opinions. This is the case in the radical party where Ms. Campoamor is a figure and Mr. Guerra del Rio is a figure. So, I don’t think this is a reason to use a bit of a satirical tone, because this problem has to be considered in its entrails and not on its surface.
At this moment we are going to either give or deny the vote to more than half of the Spanish people and it is necessary that the people who feel the republican fervor, the democratic and liberal republican fervor, do not rise here to say; it is necessary to postpone the female vote. And it is necessary, ladies and gentlemen, to postpone the female vote, because in order to change this judgement, I would need to see mothers in the street asking to have schools for their children; I would need to have seen mothers in the street forbidding their children to go to Morocco; I would need to see Spanish women united, all asking for what is indispensable for the health and culture of their children. As for the rest, Deputies, I believe that by doing so I have served the Republic, I also believe that I have served it with the utmost modesty in my reach, as I have committed myself to serve it as long as I live, it is because of this state of conscience that I rise this afternoon to ask the House to awaken the Republican conscience, to stir up the liberal and democratic faith and to postpone the vote for women. I am asking this not because it would diminish the capacity of women in the least; no, ladies and gentlemen[h3] , it is not a question of capacity, it is a question of opportunity for the Republic. That is why I am asking for the postponement of the female vote or its conditioning; but if we condition the woman’s vote, perhaps we could commit some injustice. If we postpone the female vote, no injustice is committed, in my opinion. I understand that women, in order to become attached to an ideal, need some time of harmony with the ideal. Women do not throw themselves into questions that are not clear to them, and that is why I believe that some years of conversion with the Republic are necessary for women; so that we see the women that the Republic has brought to Spain rather than the women that the monarchy did not bring: those twenty thousand schools that the Minister of Public Instruction did not find this morning, those laboratories, those popular universities, those cultural centers where women can place their children to make them true citizens.
When some years pass and the woman sees the fruits of the Republic, and when women reap the fruits of the Republic in the education and in the lives of their children, the fruits of this Republic in which they are working with this ardor and with this detachment, when the Spanish woman realizes that only in the Republic are the rights of citizenship of their children guaranteed, that only the Republic has brought to their homes the bread that the monarchy had not left them, then, Members of Parliament, women will be the most fervent, the most ardent defenders of the Republic; but, at this moment, when Mr. President has just received the signatures of Spanish women who, with their strong faith, believe at the present time that the ideals of Spain must go another way, when I fervently wished for thousands of signatures of Spanish women in support of the Republic, when I wished for thousands of signatures and thousands of women in the streets shouting “Long live the Republic! and “Long live the Government of the Republic!”, when I asked that that caravan of Spanish women who were going to pay a tribute to Primo de Rivera should have a compensation of these same Spanish women in favor of the Republic, I must humbly confess that I have not seen it, that I cannot judge Spanish women by these university girls who were in prison, honored female scholastic youth, because they were only four young female students. Nor can I judge Spanish women by these women who leave their daily work to support, with their husbands, their home. If Spanish women were all workers, if Spanish women had gone through a university period and were free in their conscience, I would stand up today in front of the whole House to ask for women’s suffrage.
But in these hours I get up to say the opposite and say it with all the courage of my spirit, facing the judgment of women who do not have this fervor and these republican feelings that I think I have. It is for this reason that I stand up clearly to say to the House; that between the conditionality of the vote or its postponement; I believe that its postponement would be more beneficial, because I judge it as more just, as well as that, after a few years of being in the Republic, of living for the Republic, of fighting for the Republic and of appreciating the benefits of the Republic, you would find in the woman the most enthusiastic defender of the Republic. For today, ladies and gentlemen, it is dangerous grant the vote to women. I cannot sit down without making my thoughts and feelings clear and without saving my conscience absolutely for the future. This is what I wanted to present to the House.
Translation by Hannah Abigail Foley.
Source: Diario de Sesiones de las Cortes Constituyente de la República Española. Comenzaron el 14 de Julio de 1931. Tomo III, Comprende desde el 48 al 62 (Madrid: Cesores de Rivadeneyra) 1933, pp. 1351-1352.
Copyright 2021 by Hannah Abigail Foley. Used by permission. All rights reserved.