Hidden Belgium: The politician who didn’t want women to vote

Hidden Belgium: The politician who didn’t want women to vote

A sculpture stands in the middle of Place Saint-Boniface in Brussels. As you sit drinking a beer on one of the café terraces, you might be curious to know who it represents.

It was placed here in 1926 in memory of Count Charles Woeste who had died the previous year. Born in 1837, he was a Catholic politician who played an important role in the construction of the St Boniface church that stands behind him.

The sculpture includes a woman gazing at him adoringly and two children laying a wreath. But not every woman in the country admired Woeste, as he fought fiercely in parliament to make sure that Belgian women did not get the vote.

Woeste was long dead before women were finally allowed to enter polling stations to vote in national elections. The first time was in June 1949.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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