Lithuania in the News
23rd December, 2006
A First for European Feminism in Lithuania a Century Ago
Constitutional Court Judge
Toma Birmontienė.
Photo courtesy Lietuvos Rytas.
It is possible that Lithuania could have been the first country in Europe to introduce voting for women. Until now it has been taken for granted that that distinction belonged to Finland, which had granted the vote to women in October 1, 1906,
The Vilnius City Hall (Vilniaus miesto rūmai),
where the Vilnius Grand Parliament met.
Today it houses the National Philharmonic.
with Europe this year celebrating the 100 year anniversary of this event.
However, a judge of Lithuania’s Constitutional Court, Toma Birmantienė, has discovered that in 1905, a year earlier than in Finland, the Vilnius Grand Parliament (Didysis Vilniaus Seimas) had demanded that "women have equality before the law and have equal universal voting rights". At that time Lithuania was part of the Russian Tsarist Empire, which in 1905 was in turmoil. The Vilnius Grand Parliament met December 4 -5, 1905, with delegates from all parts of Lithuania and demanded autonomy for Lithuania. Among the 2,000 delegates there already were seven elected women.
Some commentators have queried whether the Vilnius Grand Parliament was a true parliament, as then Lithuania was not independent, but was part of Russia. But Finland was also part of Russia at that time. The Vilnius Grand Parliament was, in fact, a true representative of Lithuania and had been called without the knowledge of the Russian administration.

Further information: Lietuvos Rytas 5/12/06