Starting with connections forged between American and British abolitionists in the 1830s and 1840s, women activists developed a propensity for literally hopping around the globe to attend conventions. Elizabeth Cady Stanton first met Lucretia Mott at an anti-slavery conference in London in 1840. Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Anna Howard Shaw were all intrepid world travelers.
Women’s international networks were especially vibrant in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1880s the World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union promoted political equality for women in places such as New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. In 1888 the International Council of Women brought together existing women’s groups, primarily from North America and Western Europe, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as its prime instigators. Its offshoot, the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA), which was founded in Berlin in 1904 “to secure the enfranchisement of the women of all nations,” fed the growth of the women’s suffrage movement worldwide.
This poster by artist Anna So’os Koranyi was created for the IWSA’s seventh annual conference (Internationaler Frauenstimmrechts-Kongress) held in Budapest, Hungary from June 15-20, 1913. Undeterred by the distance, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Jane Addams both made the trip, as did IWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt. With local arrangements in the highly capable hands of Rosika Schwimmer, the IWSA welcomed its largest gathering to date: representatives from twenty-five countries, including China. The world’s women might come together, but the expectation was that women from Western Europe and North America would lead.