A Peek Into Several European Countries
by Destiny Albritton
Before 1969, married women did not have the right to obtain a Portuguese passport or leave the country without the consent of their husbands. Until the 1970’s women in Portugal had dramatically fewer personal, political and economic rights than men. Women were seen as subordinate and in marriages usually deferred to their husband’s judgement as far as decision making was concerned. Women were not considered equal to men for the good of the family. The idea was that if women had no other right but to work within the home, perfecting home-making and child-rearing skills, Portuguese family life would be uplifted and thus the society as a whole would prosper. Women were allowed to vote, though, only if they had a secondary education and were married. The privilege of voting could have been revoked if a women separated from her husband though.
In 1976, the constitution in Portugal was amended and women were given rights equal to those of men. Citizens of at least eighteen years of age may now vote in Portugal. In the 1990’s women became more active in the professional world with developments of new initiatives to improve the roles of women in society, such as the Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights in 1991. Today, more than half of students enrolled in higher education in Portugal are women and the standard of living for women has improved because of legal reform.