“Universal Suffrage”

General female and male suffrage was established in 1948. It was a prelude to the introduction of a representative government, which was agreed to by the Allied Forces during World War II in the “Atlantic Charter”. The vision laid out in this charter was a world of sovereign states or self-governing territories with representative governments. The first step towards decolonization started with the introduction of universal suffrage. Up till then, the right to elect a parliament was limited by a census and capacity suffrage from which women were actively excluded. 

The advocates of female suffrage who met on Wednesdays at the “Kas di Pueblo” (“People’s House” –NVP-Headquarters) were called "Damanan di Djarason", (“Wednesday-Ladies"). Two well-known figures in this struggle were Adèle Rigaud and Clarita da Costa Gomez. It was Adèle who took the initiative to organize a signature campaign in February 1948 and managed to collect 1.013 signatures in just four days. 

Adèle Rigaud, member of the Catholic Party was the first woman to become member of the board of a political party. She was also the first woman who took the initiative to introduce a female segment in the Catholic Party. Rigaud was convinced that the female population could no longer be withheld from- and had to be involved in the political decision making. She could not accept that being able to choose was a right that only pertained to the male inhabitants of Curaçao. She used the signatures to sustain a petition to Dutch Parliament for general suffrage including the female population. This petition was finally granted in 1948 after long and interesting discussions in Dutch Parliament.

One could in fact affirm that the basis of our political system emerged in 1948 with a multiple party system in which by way of free elections on the basis of general female and male suffrage, all members of Parliament were chosen by the eligible voters.

On March 27, 1949 the first Election for the parliament of the territory of the Netherlands Antilles was held with universal suffrage.