Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting) in the 20th century

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Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting) represents formal changes and reforms regarding women's rights. That includes actual law reforms as well as other formal changes, such as reforms through new interpretations of laws by precedents. The right to vote is exempted from the timeline: for that right, see Timeline of women's suffrage. The timeline excludes ideological changes and events within feminism and antifeminism: for that, see Timeline of feminism.



  • El Salvador: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • El Salvador: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • China: In 1902, the Empress Dowager Cixi issued an anti-foot binding edict, but it was soon rescinded.[2]
  • Bavaria, Germany: Universities open to women.[3]
  • Sweden: Public medical offices open to women.[4]
  • Nicaragua: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Nicaragua: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Württemberg, Germany: Universities open to women.[3]
  • Egypt: Article 291 of the Egypt Penal Code, adopted in 1904 and inspired by a French provision, allowed any individual who committed sexual assault to avoid penalty if he entered into marriage with the female victim; it was eventually repealed in 1999.[5][6][7]
  • Argentina: University preparatory secondary education open to females.[8]
  • Iceland: Educational institutions open to women.[9]
  • Russia: Universities open to women.[9]
  • Serbia: Female university students are fully integrated in to the university system.[10]
  • Finland: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Honduras: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Honduras: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Honduras: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Korea: The profession of nurse is allowed for women.[12]
  • Nicaragua: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Saxony, Germany: Universities open to women.[3]
  • France: Married women given control of their income.[13]
  • France: Women allowed guardianship of children.[14]
  • United Kingdom: Matrimonial Causes Act 1907
  • Iran: Compulsory primary education for females.[15]
  • Iran: The first Iranian school for girls is established by Tuba Azmudeh, followed by others in the following years.[15]
  • Japan: Tohoku University, the first (private) coeducational university.
  • Japan: The punishments for abortion grew more severe in 1907 when the penal code revised: women could be incarcerated for up to a year for having an abortion; practitioners could be jailed for up to seven.[16] The Criminal Abortion Law of 1907 is still technically in effect today, but other legislation has overridden its effects.[16]
  • Norway: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Sudan: The first school open to Muslim girls.[17]
  • Uruguay: Divorce is legalized.[18]
  • United States: Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 provided for loss of citizenship by American women who married aliens.[19] Section 4 provided for retention of American citizenship by formerly alien women who had acquired citizenship by marriage to an American after the termination of their marriages. Women residing in the US would retain their American citizenship automatically if they did not explicitly renounce; women residing abroad would have the option to retain American citizenship by registration with a US.consul.[20] The aim of these provisions was to prevent cases of multiple nationality among women.[21]
  • England and Wales: The Qualification of Women (County and Borough Councils) Act 1907 is an Act of Parliament (7 Edw. VII) that clarified the right of certain women ratepayers to be elected to Borough and County Councils in England and Wales. It followed years of uncertainty and confusion, which included challenges in the courts when women first tried to stand for the London County Council. Women had been elected to separate boards dealing with the Poor Law and the 1870 Education Act and were entitled to serve on the new urban and rural district councils from 1894. Women had lost their influence on education boards when the free-standing boards were absorbed into newly established councils. Women had also lost places when towns grew and obtained Borough status.[22] The 1907 Act which was seen as a victory for the Women's Local Government Society[23] gave widows and unmarried women the right to stand anywhere in local government.[22]
  • Belgium: Women may act as legal witnesses in court.[9]
  • Denmark: Juridical professions of lower rank open to women.[24]
  • Denmark: Unmarried women are made legal guardian of their children.[25]
  • Korea: Secondary education for females through the foundation of the Capital School for Girl's Higher Education.[26]
  • Ottoman Empire: The Young Turks introduce several reform in favor of gender equality: the professions of doctor, lawyer, and civil servant as well as public places such as restaurants, theatres and lecture halls open to both genders.[27]
  • Peru: Universities open to women.[28]
  • Prussia, Alsace-Lorraine and Hesse, Germany: Universities open to women.[3]
  • Sweden: First women are employed in the Swedish Police Authority.[29]
  • United States: Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908), was a landmark decision in United States Supreme Court history, as it was used to justify both sex discrimination and usage of labor laws during the time period. The case upheld Oregon state restrictions on the working hours of women as justified by the special state interest in protecting women's health. The ruling had important implications for protective labor legislation.
  • United States, New York City: The New York City Board of Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited smoking by women in public.[30]
  • France: Married women are given the legal right to be consulted by husbands before the husband disposes of family property, and to press charges against the economic mismanagement of the husband.[31]
  • Sweden: Women granted eligibility to municipal councils.[32]
  • Sweden: The phrase "Swedish man" are removed from the application forms to public offices and women are thereby approved as applicants to most public professions and posts as civil servants.[4]
  • Mecklenburg, Germany: Universities open to women.[3]
  • Ecuador: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Spain: Universities fully open to women.[33]
  • United States: The White-Slave Traffic Act, or the Mann Act, is a United States federal law, passed June 25, 1910 (ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825; codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 24212424). It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann of Illinois, and in its original form made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In practice, its ambiguous language about "immorality" has resulted in its being used to criminalize even consensual sexual behavior between adults.[34] It was amended by Congress in 1978 and again in 1986.[35]
  • Luxembourg: A new educational law gives women access to higher education, and two secondary education schools open to females.[36]
  • Portugal: Civil offices open to women.[37]
  • Portugal: Legal majority for married women[37] (rescinded in 1933).[38]
  • Portugal: Divorce legalized.[38]
  • Taiwan: In Taiwan from 1911 to 1915 foot binding was gradually made illegal.[39]
  • Canada: In 1911 in Sault Ste. Marie, Angelina Napolitano, a 28-year-old, pregnant immigrant, killed her abusive husband Pietro with an axe after he tried to force her into prostitution.[40] She confessed and was sentenced to hang after a brief trial, but during the delay before the sentence was carried out (a delay necessary to allow her to give birth to her child), a public campaign for her release began.[41] Her supporters argued that the judge in the case had been wrong to throw out evidence of her long-standing abuse at Pietro's hands (including an incident five months before when he stabbed her nine times with a pocket knife).[41] The federal cabinet eventually commuted her sentence to life imprisonment.[41] She was the first woman in Canada to use the battered woman defense on a murder charge.[42]
  • France: Women allowed to bring paternity suits.[14]
  • Norway: Women are given limited access to public offices.[43]
  • Republic of China: In 1912, the new Republic of China government banned foot binding.[44]
  • South Africa: In the South African case, Incorporated Law Society v. Wookey, 1912 AD 623, the Appellate Division found that the word "persons" used in the statute concerning admission of attorneys to the bar included only men, and thus Madeline Wookey could not be a lawyer.[45][46][47] This case came about because although a law firm was willing to enroll Wookey as an articled clerk, the Cape Law Society refused to register her articles.[46] Wookey then applied to the Cape Supreme Court, which ordered the Cape Law Society to register her.[46] The Cape Law Society then appealed this to the Appellate Division, claiming that Wookey could not be admitted as a lawyer because she was female.[46]
  • United States: Starting January 1, 1912, the Massachusetts government started to enforce a law that allowed women to work a maximum of 54 hours, rather than 56 hours. Ten days later, the women workers found out that pay had been reduced along with the cut in hours.[48] There was a strike about it in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and mill owners soon decided to settle the strike, giving workers in Lawrence and throughout New England raises of up to 20 percent.
  • Russia: Married women allowed their own internal passport.[52]
  • Ottoman Empire: Women are permitted to unveil during office hours.[17]
  • United States: Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 provided for loss of citizenship by American women who married aliens.[19] The Supreme Court first considered the Expatriation Act of 1907 in the 1915 case MacKenzie v. Hare. The plaintiff, a suffragist named Ethel MacKenzie, was living in California, which since 1911 had extended the franchise to women. However, she had been denied voter registration by the respondent in his capacity as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Board of Election on the grounds of her marriage to a Scottish man.[21] MacKenzie contended that the Expatriation Act of 1907 "if intended to apply to her, is beyond the authority of Congress", as neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor any other part of the Constitution gave Congress the power to "denationalize a citizen without his concurrence". However, Justice Joseph McKenna, writing the majority opinion, stated that while "[i]t may be conceded that a change of citizenship cannot be arbitrarily imposed, that is, imposed without the concurrence of the citizen", but "[t]he law in controversy does not have that feature. It deals with a condition voluntarily entered into, with notice of the consequences." Justice James Clark McReynolds, in a concurring opinion, stated that the case should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.[53]
  • Cuba: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Cuba: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Greece: The first public secondary educational school for girls open.[54]
  • Netherlands: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Mexico: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Mexico: Divorce legalized.[1]
  • Uruguay: University education open to women.[55]
  • New South Wales, Australia: The Women's Legal Status Act 1918 formally legalizes all professions for females.[26]
  • Czechoslovakia: Females are given the same rights as males in the new constitution and divorce is legalized for both sexes.[26]
  • Cuba: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Iran: Public schools for girls are opened in order to enforce the law of compulsory education for girls in practice.[15]
  • Soviet Russia: The first Soviet Constitution explicitly declares the equal rights of men and women.
  • Thailand: Universities open to women.[56]
  • United Kingdom: The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 gave women over 21 the right to stand for election as an MP.
  • United States: Margaret Sanger was charged under the New York law against disseminating contraceptive information. On appeal, her conviction was reversed on the grounds that contraceptive devices could legally be promoted for the cure and prevention of disease.[57]
  • Puerto Rico: In 1919, Luisa Capetillo challenged mainstream society by becoming the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public. Capetillo was sent to jail for what was then considered to be a crime, but, the judge later dropped the charges against her.
  • Italy: Married women granted separate economy.[58]
  • Italy: Public offices on lower levels are opened to women.[58]
  • United Kingdom: The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919.
  • International: The Conventions concerning Employment of Women during the Night are conventions drafted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) which prohibit women from performing industrial work during the night. The first convention was adopted in 1919 (as C04, shortened Night Work (Women) Convention, 1919) and revised versions were adopted in 1934 (C41, Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1934) and 1948 (C89, Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948). A protocol (P89, Protocol to the Night Work (Women) Convention (Revised), 1948) to the convention was adopted in 1990 allowing for easing of the restriction under conditions. As of April 2011 the conventions had 27, 15, 46 (undenounced) ratifications respectively. The protocol was ratified 5 and denounced by 2.
  • International: Maternity Protection Convention, 1919 is an International Labour Organization Convention. It was established in 1919: "Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to "women's employment, before and after childbirth, including the question of maternity benefit",...The principles contained in the convention were subsequently revised and included in ILO Convention C103, Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 and the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000.
  • China: The first female students are accepted in the Peking University, soon followed by universities all over China.[59]
  • Canada: The Dominion Elections Act allowed women to run for the Parliament of Canada. However, women from minorities, for example Aboriginals and Asians, were not granted these rights.[60]
  • Haiti: The apothecary profession open to women.[61]
  • Korea: The profession of telephone operator, as well as several other professions, such as store clerks, are open to women.[12]
  • Nepal: Sati is banned.[26]
  • Portugal: Secondary school open to women.[37]
  • Sweden: Legal majority for married women and equal marriage rights.[62]
  • United States: The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. It was adopted on August 18, 1920.
  • Soviet Union: Lenin legalized all abortions in the Soviet Union.[63]
  • France: A law was enacted that forbade all forms of contraception, and also information about contraception.
  • Belgium: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Belgium: The position of mayor, several lower public offices, such as financial adviser, open to women at local level.[64]
  • Denmark: Women are given access to all official professions and positions in society, with some excpetions.[65]
  • Thailand: Compulsory elementary education for both girls and boys.[56]
  • Monaco: The 1921 Women's Olympiad was held, first international women's sports event.
  • United States: The Promotion of the Welfare and Hygiene of Maternity and Infancy Act, more commonly known as the Sheppard–Towner Act, was a 1921 U.S. Act of Congress that provided federal funding for maternity and child care.[66] It was sponsored by Senator Morris Sheppard (D) of Texas and Representative Horace Mann Towner (R) of Iowa, and signed by President Warren G. Harding on November 23, 1921.[67] This showed the political and economic power of women's issues since the bill was passed due to pressure from the newly formed Women's Joint Congressional Committee. Before its passage, most of the expansion in public health programs occurred at the state and local levels. Many factors helped its passage including the environment of the Progressive Era.[68] Massachusetts, Connecticut and Illinois never participated in the program. Participation in the program varied depending on states. The Act was due for renewal in 1926, but was met with increased opposition.[68] Hence, Congress allowed the act's funding to lapse in 1929 after successful opposition by the American Medical Association, which saw the act as a socialist threat to its professional autonomy.[69] This opposition was in spite of the fact that the Pediatric Section of the AMA House of Delegates had endorsed the renewal of the act. The rebuking of the Pediatric Section by the full House of Delegates led to the members of the Pediatric Section establishing the American Academy of Pediatrics.[70] The Act was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1922 but the Act continued to be in force until 1929.
  • Belgium: The profession of lawyer is open to women.[9]
  • Iraq: The first woman university student in Iraq.[71]
  • Japan: Women are allowed to be present and political meetings and form political organizations.[72]
  • Peru: Women are allowed to serve in public welfare boards.[55]
  • Syria: Muslim women appear unveiled for the first time in public.[73]
  • United States: The Cable Act of 1922 (ch. 411, 42 Stat. 1021, "Married Women's Independent Nationality Act") was a United States federal law that reversed former immigration laws regarding marriage.(It is also known as the Married Women's Citizenship Act or the Women's Citizenship Act). Previously, a woman lost her United States citizenship if she married a foreign man, since she assumed the citizenship of her husband, a law that did not apply to United States citizen men who married foreign women. The law repealed sections 3 and 4 of the Expatriation Act of 1907.[74] However, the Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to an "alien eligible to naturalization."[75] At the time of the law's passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for US citizenship.[76][77] As such, the Cable Act only partially reversed previous policies and allowed women to retain their United States citizenship after marrying a foreigner who was not Asian. Thus, even after the Cable Act become effective, any woman who married an Asian alien lost her United States citizenship, just as under the previous law. The Cable Act also had other limitations: a woman could keep her United States citizenship after marrying a non-Asian alien if she stayed within the United States. However, if she married a foreigner and lived on foreign soil for two years, she could still lose her right to United States nationality.
  • Japan: The Diet of Japan amended Article 5 in the 1900 Police Law, allowing women to attend political gatherings while continuing to forbid them from joining political parties and voting.
  • Egypt: Veiling is discarded: unveiling is supported by a fatwa in 1937.[73]
  • Egypt: Compulsory education for both sexes.[17]
  • Sweden: The Law of Access formally grants women the right to all professions and positions in society, except for certain priest- and military positions.[78]
  • Japan: Doctors were granted legal permission to perform emergency abortions to save the mother's life; abortions performed under different, less life-threatening circumstances were still prosecuted.[16]
  • Argentina: Women are secured the right to maternity leave and daycare and employers are banned from firing women because of pregnancy.[79]
  • Denmark: The first ever female minister in Western Europe is appointed, when Nina Bang is appointed Minister of Education by Thorvald Stauning.
  • Peru: Legislation was passed which stated that rapists were legally able to be exempt from sexual assault charges through a loophole. In cases of rape and to serve as a punishment for the perpetrator, the victim was required to enter into a marriage with their rapist.[80] In 1991, this law was modified to absolve co-conspirators in a gang rape case if one of them married the victim. In 1997, the law was completely repealed.[81]
  • Argentina: Married women granted separate economy[1] legal majority and the right to employment.[8]
  • Lebanon: The University of Beirut is open to women.[17]
  • Romania: Married women allowed to manage their own income.[82]
  • Turkey: The Civil Code of 1926 secures equal rights to women in inheritance, marriage (thereby abolishing polygamy and harems) and divorce.[83][84]
  • Tonga: The Parent Consent Act 1926 allows rapists to marry their victim (between the age of 14 and 18) if the victim's parents give consent.[85]
  • Afghanistan: The monarch introduces compulsory education for the daughters of officials.[71]
  • Luxembourg: Women are explicitly approved to function as a witness in court.[86]
  • Mexico: Legal majority for married women.[11]
  • Norway: the 1927 Law on Spouses awarded equal legal weight to the verbal testimony of the housewife in parity with men.
  • Afghanistan: The first women are sent abroad to study (women banned from studying abroad in 1929).[71] Compulsory veiling, polygamy and forced concubinage is abolished (rescinded in 1929).[71]
  • Albania: The Civil Code of 1928 bans forced marriages and gives married women the right to divorce and equal inheritance.[87]
  • Bahrain: The first public primary school for girls.[17]
  • Egypt: The first Women students is admitted to Cairo University.[17]
  • Mexico: Equal marriage law.[1]
  • Southern Rhodesia: the marital power was abolished in 1928 by the Married Persons' Property Act, which also abolished community of property.[88]
  • Greece: Secondary education for females is made equal to that of males.[54]
  • Haiti: The lawyer profession open to women.[61]
  • Canada: Edwards v Canada (AG)[89]—also known as the Persons Case—is a famous Canadian constitutional case that decided that women were eligible to sit in the Senate of Canada. The case, put forward by the Government of Canada on the lobbying of a group of women known as the Famous Five, began as a reference case in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that women were not "qualified persons" and thus ineligible to sit in the Senate. The case then went to the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, at that time the court of last resort for Canada within the British Empire and Commonwealth. The Judicial Committee overturned the Supreme Court's decision. The Persons Case was a landmark case in two respects. First, it established that Canadian women were eligible to be appointed senators. Second, it established what came to be known as the "living tree doctrine", which is a doctrine of constitutional interpretation that says that a constitution is organic and must be read in a broad and liberal manner so as to adapt it to changing times.
  • Peru: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Turkey: Equal right to university education for both men and women.[17]
  • Turkey: Women gain the right to stand for local election[90]
  • South Africa: The Women's Enfranchisement Act, 1930, was an act of the Parliament of South Africa which granted white women aged 21 and older the right to run for office.
  • China: The new Civil Code grant equal inheritance rights, the right for women to choose marriage partner, equal right to divorce and right to control their own property after divorce.[91]
  • Spain: Legal majority for married women (rescinded in 1939).[92]
  • Spain: Equal right to profession (rescinded in 1939).[92]
  • Spain: Divorce is legalized (rescinded in 1939).[92]
  • United States: An amendment to the Cable Act allowed females to retain their citizenship even if they married an Asian.[93]
  • Mexico: Mexico became the first country in the world to legalize abortion in cases of rape.[94]
  • Mexico: Mexico enacted a national marry-your-rapist law, which was repealed in 1991.[95] As of 2017, the laws of three states (Campeche, Baja California and Sonora) provide that marriage to the victim exonerates the perpetrator of the crime of estupro (seduction of minors).[96][97][95]
  • Bolivia: Divorce is legalized.[11]
  • Colombia: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Colombia: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Romania: Married women granted legal majority.[98]
  • Ireland: The marriage bar was introduced in Ireland; it prevented any married woman from working in the public sector.[99] In 1973, the marriage bar was removed in Ireland.[100]
  • Poland: Poland became the first country in Europe outside the Soviet Union to legalize abortion in cases of rape and threat to maternal health.[101]
  • Colombia: Universities open to women.[102]
  • Luxembourg: A ban against firing women teachers after marriage.[36]
  • Some states in the Americas: The Convention on the Nationality of Women was adopted in 1933 by the Pan American Union in Montevideo, Uruguay.[103] It was the first international treaty ever adopted concerning women's rights. The Seventh International Conference of American States agreed that "There shall be no distinction based on sex as regards nationality, in their legislation or in their practice".[104] This agreement, which effected only the status of the member states in the Americas,[103] was the precursor to the United Nations own study on the subject of nationality begun in 1948.[105]
  • Brazil: The constitution of 1934 grants all women equality before the law, maternity leave, access to all public professions.[55]
  • Haiti: The physician profession open to women.[61]
  • Iran: In order to prepare for an abolition of the veil and social gender segregation, women teachers and students are encouraged to appear unveiled: this is followed the next year by an order to male politicians to introduce their wives to representational gender mixed social life.[15]
  • Turkey: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Iran: Women are admitted to Tehran University.[106] The access of university education to females is, in fact, also a reform regarding women's access to professions, as it open numerous professions to women.[15]
  • Luxembourg: The profession of nurse and social worker, though de facto already in existence, are formally legalized and regulated for women.[36]
  • Thailand: Polygamy is banned and women are entitled to an equal share of common property after divorce.[107]
  • International: Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935 is an International Labour Organization Convention. It was established in 1935, with the preamble stating:

Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to the employment of women on underground work in mines of all kinds,..

  • Iceland: Iceland became the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion under limited circumstances.[108]
  • Nazi Germany: Nazi Germany amended its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women who have hereditary disorders.[109] The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission, and if the fetus was not yet viable,[110][111][112] and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.[113][114]
  • Ireland: Contraception in Ireland was made illegal in 1935 under the 1935 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act.[115]
  • Colombia: The national University open to women.[116]
  • Iran: Reza Shah Pahlavi set the mandatory unveiling of women—a highly controversial policy which nonetheless was significant for the desegregation of women.[106] In order to enforce the abolition of gender segregation, male civil servants were ordered to bring their wives to official ceremonies.[15] As well, to enforce the unveiling decree, police were ordered to physically remove the veil off of any woman who wore it in public. Women were beaten, their headscarves and chadors torn off, and their homes forcibly searched.[117][118][119][15][120][121][122][123][124][125] Until Reza Shah’s abdication in 1941, many women simply chose not to leave their houses in order to avoid such embarrassing confrontations,[118][119][121][122][123] and some even committed suicide.[121][122][123]
  • Peru: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • United States: In 1936, a federal appeals court ruled in United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries that the federal government could not interfere with doctors providing contraception to their patients.[126]
  • United States: The Cable Act was repealed.
  • Romania: Abortion remained illegal under Romania's 1936 Criminal Code, except if needed to save the pregnant woman's life or if the child risked inheriting a severe genetic disorder. Nevertheless, the punishments for both abortionists and pregnant women who procured an abortion were extremely lenient, almost symbolical, compared to many other European countries. Articles 482–485 of that code dealt with abortion.[127] The punishment for both the person performing an abortion and the pregnant woman who procured the abortion were 3–6 months if she was unmarried; and 6 months-1 year if she was married. The punishments increased if the woman didn't consent to the abortion, if she was severely injured, or if she died. Medical personnel or pharmacists involved in performing abortions were barred for practicing the profession for 1–3 years. The significance of such legal provisions must be understood in an international context: for instance as late as 1943, in France, abortionist Marie-Louise Giraud was executed for performing abortions.
  • Soviet Union: Joseph Stalin reversed most parts of Lenin's legalization of abortion in the Soviet Union to increase population growth.[128]
  • Catalonia: The Government of Catalonia legalized free abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. [129][130][131]
  • Ireland: Divorce was banned in Ireland in 1937.[132]
  • Albania: Veiling is banned.[87]
  • United Kingdom: Matrimonial Causes Act 1937
  • Kuwait: The first public schools open to females.[17]
  • Puerto Rico: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Ireland: The 1937 Constitution and Taoiseach Éamon de Valera’s conservative leadership somewhat stripped women of their previously granted rights.[133] As well, though the 1937 Constitution guarantees women the right to vote and to nationality and citizenship on an equal basis with men, it also contains a provision, Article 41.2, which states:

1° [...] the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

  • Sweden: Ban against firing a woman for marrying or having children.[134]
  • France: The French Penal Code was altered to permit an abortion that would save the pregnant woman's life.[135]


  • Lebanon: Article 522 of the Lebanon Penal Code became a part of the law in the 1940s and stated that rape was a punishable offense, where the attacker could receive up to seven years in prison.[136] However, no criminal prosecution would take place if the perpetrator and their victim got married, and stayed married for a minimum of three years.[136] In 2017, Article 522 of the Lebanon Penal Code, which had been labelled a "rape law"[137] was repealed.[138] But after Article 522 was repealed, it was argued by many that the law still lived on through Articles 505 and 518.[136] Article 505 involves the act of sex with a minor, while Article 518 deals with the seduction of a minor accompanied by the promise of marriage.[138]
  • Japan: The National Eugenic Law stopped short of explicitly calling abortion legal by outlining a set of procedures a doctor had to follow in order to perform an abortion; these procedures included getting second opinions and submitting reports, though these could be ignored when it was an emergency.[16] This was a daunting and complicated process that many physicians did not want to deal with, and some sources attribute the fall in abortion rate between 1941 and 1944 from 18,000 to 1,800 to this legislation.[16]
  • Russia: Women formally accepted into the military.[52]
  • Venezuela: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Venezuela: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Iran: Compulsory primary education for both males and females.[17]
  • 'British Guiana'-Guyana: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • United States, Illinois: In People ex rel. Rago v. Lipsky, 63 N.E.2d 642 (Ill. 1945), the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District did not allow a married woman to stay registered to vote under her birth name, due to "the long-established custom, policy and rule of the common law among English-speaking peoples whereby a woman's name is changed by marriage and her husband's surname becomes as a matter of law her surname."[139][140]
  • Burma: Myanmar: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Uruguay: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Uruguay: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Sudan: Sudan was the first country to outlaw FGM in 1946, under the British. However, currently there is no national law forbidding FGM there.
  • United States, North Carolina: A state constitutional amendment passed in North Carolina making women eligible to serve on a jury.[141]
  • Norway: Allowances for mothers at home were created.
  • Sweden: Maternity pay.[134]
  • United States: Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464 (1948), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Michigan law which prohibited women from being licensed as a bartender in all cities having a population of 50,000 or more, unless their father or husband owned the establishment. Valentine Goesaert, the plaintiff in this case, challenged the law on the ground that it infringed on the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Speaking for the majority, Justice Felix Frankfurter affirmed the judgment of the Detroit, Michigan district court and upheld the constitutionality of the state law. The state argued that since the profession of bartending could potentially lead to moral and social problems for women, it was within the state's power to bar them from working as bartenders. Only when the owner of the bar was a sufficiently close relative to the women bartender could it be guaranteed that such immorality would not be present.
  • United States: The Women's Armed Services Integration Act (Pub.L. 80–625, 62 Stat. 356, enacted June 12, 1948) is a United States law that enabled women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force. However, Section 502 of the act limited service of women by excluding them from aircraft and vessels of the Air Force and Navy that might engage in combat.
  • Japan: Japan legalized abortion under special circumstances.[144] The Eugenic Protection Law of 1948 made Japan one of the first countries to legalize induced abortion. This law was revised as the Maternal Body Protection Law in 1996.[145]
  • China: Statute grants women equal right to property, to seek divorce and to inheritance.
  • Norway: Women who married foreigners could decide for themselves whether to keep Norwegian citizenship or not.
  • Bahrain: First secondary education school open to females.[17]
  • Qatar: First public school for girls.[17]
  • India: The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was passed. The main purpose of the act was to amend and codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus and others. Besides amending and codifying Sastrik Law, it introduced separation and divorce, which did not exist in Sastrik Law. This enactment brought uniformity of law for all sections of Hindus. In India there are religion-specific civil codes that separately govern adherents of certain other religions.
  • India: The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to amend and codify the law relating to intestate or unwilled succession, among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.[150] The Act lays down a uniform and comprehensive system of inheritance and succession into one Act. The Hindu woman's limited estate is abolished by the Act. Any property possessed by a Hindu female is to be held by her absolute property and she is given full power to deal with it and dispose it of by will as she likes. Parts of this Act were amended in 2005 by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.[151] Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956,[150] females are granted ownership of all property acquired either before or after the signing of the Act, abolishing their “limited owner" status. However, it was not until the 2005 Amendment that daughters were allowed equal receipt of property as with sons.
  • Soviet Union: Abortion was legalized again in the Soviet Union.[128]
  • Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, an UN convention that entered force in 1958 and was ratified by 74 countries, protects the citizenships of women who married citizens of other countries (previously such a marriage often resulted in the loss of the woman's original citizenship).
  • Romania: Abortion was officially legalized in Romania, following which for a time 80% of pregnancies ended in abortion, mainly due to the lack of effective contraception.
  • Sweden: Women allowed to become priests.[62]
  • Netherlands: In the Netherlands marital power was abolished in 1958.
  • Bahrain: Article 353 of the Bahrain Penal Code, dating from 1958, has undergone several amendments since its adoption. It states that if a perpetrator marries the victim before the final sentencing is pronounced, the charges will be dropped[152] and criminal proceedings will be suspended.[153][154]
  • Afghanistan: Veiling is not banned but the compulsory veiling is abolished and women in official positions, as well as the wives and daughters of male officials, are asked to discard the veil in public.[71]
  • Iraq: The new personal status law provide equal inheritance rights, raise women's age of marriage to 18, prohibit men's right to divorce unilaterally and virtually abolish polygamy.[71]
  • Gaza Strip: Since being annexed by Egypt in 1959, the Gaza Strip has applied Egyptian penal law Article 291, although this has been repealed in Egypt itself in 1999.[50] Article 291 allows any individual who commits sexual assault to avoid penalty if he enters into marriage with the female victim.[5]
  • Afghanistan: The University of Kabul open to women.[71]
  • Canada: Women gain the right to stand for election, with no restrictions/conditions.
  • Jordan: Article 308 in the Jordanian Penal Code, enacted in 1960 (and abolished in 2017) originally allowed for an aggressor of sexual assault to avoid persecution and punishment if he married the victim. Only if the marriage lasted under three years did he need to serve his time. The article was amended in 2016, barring full pardon in cases of rape but keeping a loophole clause that pardoned perpetrators if they married the victim if she was aged between 15 and 18 and if the assault was regarded as “consensual.”
  • Kuwait: Article 182 states that if a rapist legally marries his victim with her guardian's permission, and the guardian requests that he is not punished, he won't be punished as he would be under Article 180.[146][50]
  • El Salvador: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Kuwait: Mandatory veiling is abolished for female public servants.[17]
  • India: The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to 5,000 (US$70, £54 or A$95). It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states.[155] Murder and suicide under compulsion are addressed by India's criminal penal code.
  • India: The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
  • United States: Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961), was an appeal by Gwendolyn Hoyt, who had killed her husband and received a jail sentence for second degree murder. Although she had suffered mental and physical abuse in her marriage, and showed neurotic, if not psychotic, behavior, a six-man jury deliberated for just twenty-five minutes before finding her guilty.[156] They sentenced her to 30 years of hard labor. Hoyt claimed that her all-male jury led to discrimination and unfair circumstances during her trial. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice John Marshall Harlan II, Supreme Court of the United States held the Florida jury selection statute was not discriminatory.
  • United States, Ohio: In State ex rel. Krupa v. Green, 177 N.E.2d 616 (Ohio 1961), the Ohio appellate court allowed a married woman to register to vote in her birth name which she had openly and solely used, and been well-known to use, before her marriage, and held that she could use that name as a candidate for public office.[157][139]
  • Singapore: The Women's Charter is an Act of the Singaporean Parliament passed in 1961. The Act was designed to improve and protect the rights of females in Singapore and to guarantee greater legal equality for women in legally sanctioned relationships (except in the area of Muslim marriages, which are governed separately by the Administration of Muslim Law Act). Among other things, the Act provides for the institution of monogamous marriages, the rights of husbands and wives in marriage, the protection of the family, and the legal potentialities with regard to divorce and separation.
  • Brazil: Legal majority for married women.[158]
  • Kuwait: The right to education and employment are secured to all citizens regardless of gender.[17]
  • Ireland: The Slander of Women Act 1891 was repealed[159] for the Republic of Ireland on 1 January 1962.[160]
No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex [...][163] For the first nine years of the EPA, the requirement of equal pay for equal work did not extend to persons employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as an outside salesperson. Therefore, the EPA exempted white-collar women from the protection of equal pay for equal work. In 1972, Congress enacted the Educational Amendment of 1972, which amended the FLSA to expand the coverage of the EPA to these employees, by excluding the EPA from the professional workers exemption of the FLSA.
  • Afghanistan: The 1964 constitution state the equal right of women to education, employment and rights within marriage.[71]
  • United States: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as Subchapter VI of Chapter 21 of title 42 of the United States Code, prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin (see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2[164]). Title VII applies to and covers an employer "who has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year" as written in the Definitions section under 42 U.S.C. §2000e(b). Title VII also prohibits discrimination against an individual because of his or her association with another individual of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, such as by an interracial marriage.[165] The EEO Title VII has also been supplemented with legislation prohibiting pregnancy, age, and disability discrimination (See Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Age Discrimination in Employment Act,[166] Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

In very narrowly defined situations, an employer is permitted to discriminate on the basis of a protected trait where the trait is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise. To prove the bona fide occupational qualifications defense, an employer must prove three elements: a direct relationship between the protected trait and the ability to perform the duties of the job, the BFOQ relates to the "essence" or "central mission of the employer's business", and there is no less-restrictive or reasonable alternative (United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U.S. 187 (1991) 111 S.Ct. 1196). The Bona Fide Occupational Qualification exception is an extremely narrow exception to the general prohibition of discrimination based on protected traits (Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977) 97 S.Ct. 2720). An employer or customer's preference for an individual of a particular religion is not sufficient to establish a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kamehameha School – Bishop Estate, 990 F.2d 458 (9th Cir. 1993)). There are partial and whole exceptions to Title VII for four types of employers:

  • Federal government; (Comment: The proscriptions against employment discrimination under Title VII are now applicable to certain federal government offices under 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-16)
  • Federally recognized Native American tribes
  • Religious groups performing work connected to the group's activities, including associated education institutions;
  • Bona fide nonprofit private membership organizations.

The Convention reaffirms the consensual nature of marriages and requires the parties to establish a minimum marriage age by law and to ensure the registration of marriages.[168]

  • Pakistan: Family Court Act of 1964; it has proven to be unenforceable.
  • Norway: The first law to legalize abortion in Norway was passed in 1964. It allowed abortion in cases of danger to the mother, and the abortion decision was taken by two doctors.
  • France: Married women obtained the right to work without their husbands' consent.[169]
  • Kuwait: Compulsory education for both boys and girls.[17]
  • United States: Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965),[170] is a landmark case in the United States in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut "Comstock law" that prohibited any person from using "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception." By a vote of 7–2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the "right to marital privacy", establishing the basis for the right to privacy with respect to intimate practices. This and other cases view the right to privacy as a right to "protect[ion] from governmental intrusion."

Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention "privacy", Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the "penumbras" and "emanations" of other constitutional protections, such as the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment. Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote a concurring opinion in which he used the Ninth Amendment in support of the Supreme Court's ruling. Justice Arthur Goldberg and Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote concurring opinions in which they argued that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Byron White also wrote a concurrence based on the due process clause.

  • United States: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decided in 1965 that segregated job advertising—"Help Wanted Male" and "Help Wanted Female"—was permissible because it served "the convenience of readers".[171] Advocates for women's rights founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in June 1966 out of frustration with the enforcement of the sex bias provisions of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11375.[172]

– women over 45 (lowered to 40 in 1974, raised back to 45 in 1985)[175][176]
– women who had already delivered and reared four children (raised to five in 1985)[175][176]
– women whose life would be threatened by carrying to term due to medical complications[175][176]
– women whose fetuses were malformed[177]
- women who were pregnant through rape or incest[175][176]

  • United Kingdom: The Abortion Act (effective 1968) legalized abortion in the United Kingdom under certain grounds (except in Northern Ireland).
  • France: The Neuwirth Act of 1967 authorizes contraception.[178]
  • United States: Executive Order 11375, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 13, 1967, banned discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring and employment in both the United States federal workforce and on the part of government contractors.
  • United States: President Johnson signs Public Law 90-130, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the United States military. Among other things, Public Law 90-130 amended 10 USC, eliminating the 2% ceiling on enlisted women. It also allowed female officers to be promoted to Colonel and above.
  • United States, Maryland: In Erie Exchange v. Lane, 246 Md. 55 (1967) the Maryland Court of Appeals held that a married woman can lawfully adopt an assumed name, even if it is not her birth name or the name of her lawful husband, without legal proceedings.[179]
  • United States: Section 230.3 Abortion (Tentative draft 1959, Official draft 1962) of the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code (MPC) was used as a model for abortion law reform legislation enacted in 13 states from 1967 to 1972. It would legalize abortion to preserve the health (whether physical or mental) of the mother, as well as if the pregnancy is due to incest or rape, or if doctors agree that there is a significant risk that the child will be born with a serious mental or physical defect.
  • United States, California, Colorado, Oregon, and North Carolina: Colorado became the first state to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or in which pregnancy would lead to permanent physical disability of the woman, and similar laws were passed in California, Oregon, and North Carolina.
  • England and Wales: In England and Wales, the only part of the United Kingdom where the law against being a common scold had any effect, section 13(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 abolished it.
  • Pakistan: Anti-dowry law of 1967; it has proven to be unenforceable.
  • Portugal: Legal majority for married women.[38]
  • Sierra Leone: The Special Court for Sierra Leone's (SCSL) Appeals Chamber found the abduction and confinement of women for "forced marriage" in war to be a new crime against humanity (AFRC decision).[183][184]
  • Iraq: Article 427 of Iraq's penal code, in its current form dating from 1969, states that if the perpetrator of rape lawfully marries the victim, any legal action becomes void.[146][50]
  • Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, New Mexico and Oregon: Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, New Mexico and Oregon reformed their abortion laws based on the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code(MPC).
  • Canada: Canada passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, which began to allow abortion for selective reasons.
  • Australia: The ruling in the Victorian case of R v Davidson defined for the first time which abortions were lawful in Australia.[185]


  • United States, Hawaii, New York, Alaska and Washington: Hawaii, New York, Alaska and Washington repealed their abortion laws. Specifically, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortions on the request of the woman,[186] New York repealed its 1830 law and allowed abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy, and Washington held a referendum on legalizing early pregnancy abortions, becoming the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people.[187]
  • United States, South Carolina and Virginia: South Carolina and Virginia reformed their abortion laws based on the American Law Institute Model Penal Code.
  • England: In England until 1970 a woman whose fiancé broke off their engagement could sue him for Breach of promise, whilst a woman, historically regarded as the weaker sex, was permitted to change her mind without penalty.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Ecuador: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • France: The paternal authority of a man over his family was ended in 1970 (before that parental responsibilities belonged solely to the father who made all legal decisions concerning the children).[188]
  • United States: In 1970, Eleanor Holmes Norton represented sixty female employees of Newsweek who had filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Newsweek had a policy of only allowing men to be reporters.[189] The women won, and Newsweek agreed to allow women to be reporters.[189] The day the claim was filed, Newsweek's cover article was "Women in Revolt", covering the feminist movement; the article was written by a woman who had been hired on a freelance basis since there were no female reporters at the magazine.[190]
  • United States: The Title X Family Planning Program, officially known as Public Law 91-572 or "Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs", was enacted under President Richard Nixon in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. Title X is legally designed to prioritize the needs of low-income families or uninsured people (including those who are not eligible for Medicaid) who might not otherwise have access to these health care services. These services are provided to low-income and uninsured individuals at reduced or no cost.[191] Its overall purpose is to promote positive birth outcomes and healthy families by allowing individuals to decide the number and spacing of their children. The other health services provided in Title X-funded clinics are integral in achieving this objective.[192]
  • United States: Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., 421 F.2d 259 (3rd Cir. 1970) was a case heard before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1970. It is an important case in studying the impact of the Bennett Amendment on Chapter VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, helping to define the limitations of equal pay for men and women.[193][194] In its rulings, the court determined that a job that is "substantially equal" in terms of what the job entails, although not necessarily in title or job description, is protected by the Equal Pay Act.[195] An employer who hires a woman to do the same job as a man but gives the job a new title in order to offer it a lesser pay is discriminating under that act.[195]
  • United States: Congress removed references to contraception from federal anti-obscenity laws.[196]
  • United States: In Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., a U.S. federal trial court ruled in a female flight attendant’s favor on whether airline marriage bans were illegal under Title VII. The court found that neither sex nor marital status was a bona fide occupational qualification for the flight attendant occupation. The court's ruling was upheld upon appeal.[197][198][199]
  • United States: Women were not allowed in McSorley's Old Ale House's until August 10, 1970, after National Organization for Women attorneys Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow filed a discrimination case against the bar in District Court and won.[200] The two entered McSorley's in 1969, and were refused service, which was the basis for their lawsuit for discrimination. The case decision made the front page of The New York Times on June 26, 1970.[201] The suit, Seidenberg v. McSorleys' Old Ale House (1970, United States District Court, S. D. New York) established that, as a public place, the bar could not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.[202] The bar was then forced to admit women, but it did so "kicking and screaming."[203] With the ruling allowing women to be served, the bathroom became unisex. But it was not until sixteen years later that a ladies room was installed.[204]
  • United Kingdom: The Equal Pay Act 1970 was an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, which prohibited any less favorable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment.
  • Egypt: The new constitution confirms equality before the law and women's right to inheritance, property, education, employment and divorce.[71]
  • Switzerland: Women allowed to stand for election at federal level.[205]
  • United States: Barring women from practicing law was prohibited in the U.S. in 1971.[206]
  • United States: United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, which held that the District of Columbia's abortion law banning the practice except when necessary for the health or life of the woman was not unconstitutionally vague.
  • United States: Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971), was an Equal Protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that discriminates between sexes. The Supreme Court ruled for the first time in Reed v. Reed that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited differential treatment based on sex.[207]
  • United States: Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 U.S. 542 (1971), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not, in the absence of business necessity, refuse to hire women with pre-school-age children while hiring men with such children. It was the first sex discrimination case under Title VII to reach the Court.
  • India: The Indian Parliament under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi, passes Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (MTP Act 1971). India thus becomes one of the earliest nations to pass this Act. The Act gains importance, considering India had traditionally been a very conservative country in these matters. Most notably there was no similar Act in several US states around the same time.[208]
  • Bolivia: Married women granted separate economy.[1]
  • Bolivia: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • Luxembourg: Legal majority for married women.[26]
  • United States: Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688, co-authored and introduced by Senator Birch Bayh; it was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002, after its late House co-author and sponsor. It states (in part) that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

  • United States: Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), is a United States Supreme Court case that established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples. The Court struck down a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, ruling that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
  • United States: The common law offence of being a common scold was extant in New Jersey until struck down in 1972 by Circuit Judge McCann who found it had been subsumed in the provisions of the Disorderly Conduct Act of 1898, was bad for vagueness and offended the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution for sex discrimination.
  • United States: Under § 215 of the Social Security Act (42 USCS 415), old-age insurance benefits are computed on the basis of the wage earner's "average monthly wage" earned during their "benefit computation years," which are the "elapsed years" (reduced by five) during which their covered wages were highest. Under the pre-1972 version, the computation for old age insurance benefits was such that a woman obtained larger benefits than a man of the same age having the same earnings record. The 1972 amendment altered the formula for computing benefits so as to eliminate the previous distinction between men and women, but only as to men reaching the age of 62 in 1975 or later; it was not given retroactive application.
  • United States: The 10th Circuit case Moritz v. Commissioner successfully challenged the denial of a dependent-care deduction to a single man who was a caretaker for his sick mother; the deduction had previously been limited to women, widowers, or divorced men.[209][210]
  • United States, Maryland: In Stuart v. Board of Elections, 266 Md. 440, 446, on the question of whether a wife could register to vote in her birth name rather than her husband's last name, the Maryland Court of Appeals held, "[A] married woman's surname does not become that of her husband where, as here, she evidences a clear intent to consistently and nonfraudulently use her birth given name subsequent to her marriage."[179]
  • United States, Florida: Florida reformed its abortion law based on the American Law Institute Model Penal Code.
  • Ireland: The marriage bar was introduced in Ireland in 1932; it prevented any married woman from working in the public sector.[99] In 1973, the marriage bar was removed in Ireland.[100]
  • England and Wales: The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 stipulates that a forced marriage is voidable.[211]
  • Andorra, San Marino: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • United States: Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life.[212] Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • United States: Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court overturning the abortion law of Georgia. The Supreme Court's decision was released on January 22, 1973, the same day as the decision in the better-known case of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Doe v. Bolton challenged Georgia's much more liberal abortion statute.
  • United States: Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case[213] which decided that benefits given by the United States military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.
  • United States: Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, 413 U.S. 376 (1973), was a 1973 decision of the United States Supreme Court which upheld an ordinance enacted in Pittsburgh that forbids sex-designated classified advertising for job opportunities, against a claim by the parent company of the Pittsburgh Press that the ordinance violated its First Amendment rights.
  • United States: From 1973 on, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has followed the Helms Amendment ruling, banning use of U.S. government funds to provide abortion as a method of family planning anywhere in the world.[214]
  • United States: The "Percy Amendment" of the Foreign Assistance Act required U.S. development assistance to integrate women into its programs, leading to USAID's creation of its Women in Development (WID) office in 1974.
  • Canada: Canada (AG) v Lavell, [1974] S.C.R. 1349, was a landmark 5–4 Supreme Court of Canada decision holding that Section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act[215] did not violate the respondents' right to "equality before the law" under Section 1 (b) of the Canadian Bill of Rights. The two respondents, Lavell and Bédard, had alleged that the impugned section was discriminatory under the Canadian Bill of Rights by virtue of the fact that it deprived Indian women of their status for marrying a non-Indian, but not Indian-men. The Supreme Court's decision proved very controversial, later influencing the wording of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms during the drafting process.
  • Tunisia: Tunisia enacted a law which forbade Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims; this law was eventually removed in 2017.[216]
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom began putting a value-added tax on sanitary products when it joined the European Economic Community in 1973.
  • United States: Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974), was an equal protection case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled on whether unfavorable treatment to pregnant women could count as sex discrimination. It held that the denial of insurance benefits for work loss resulting from a normal pregnancy did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The California insurance program at issue did not exclude workers from eligibility based on sex but did exclude pregnancy from a list of compensable disabilities. The majority found that even though only women would be directly affected by the administrative decision, the classification of normal pregnancy as non-compensable was not a sex-based classification, and therefore the court would defer to the state so long as it could provide a rational basis for its categorization.
  • United States: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a United States law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), enacted in 1974, that makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract);[217] to the fact that all or part of the applicant's income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly participates in a credit decision, including banks, retailers, bankcard companies, finance companies, and credit unions. Failure to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act's Regulation B can subject a financial institution to civil liability for actual and punitive damages in individual or class actions. Liability for punitive damages can be as much as $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of the creditor's net worth in class actions.[218]
  • Spain: Angela Hernandez (also known as Angela Hernandez Gomez and just Angela), of Spain, won a case in the Spanish Supreme Court allowing women to be bullfighters in Spain; a prohibition against women doing so was put in place in Spain in 1908.[219][220]
  • International: The Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict was adopted by the United Nations in 1974 and went into force the same year. It was proposed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, on the grounds that women and children are often the victims of wars, civil unrest, and other emergency situations that cause them to suffer "inhuman acts and consequently suffer serious harm".[221]
  • Portugal: Article 400 of the Portuguese penal code of 1886,[222] which still functioned in post-colonial Mozambique until its replacement on 11 July 2014,[223] stated that rapists who married their victim would not be punished.[222] The law was not applied since independence in 1974.[224] It was repealed in 2014.[224]
  • Ireland: McGee v. The Attorney General [1974] IR 284 was a case in the Irish Supreme Court in 1974 that referenced Article 41 of the Irish Constitution.[225][226] It concerned Mary McGee, whose condition was such that she was advised by her physician that if she would become pregnant again her life would be endangered. She was then instructed to use a diaphragm and spermicidal jelly that was prescribed to her.[227] However, Section 17 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1935 prohibited her from acquiring the prescription. The Supreme Court ruled by a 4 to 1 majority in favor of her, after determining that married couples have the constitutional right to make private decisions on family planning.[227]
  • United States: In Kahn v. Shevin the Supreme Court ruled that a Florida statute providing property tax exemptions only to widows does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[228]
  • United States: In Kaplowitz v. University of Chicago, 387 F.Supp. 42 (N.D.Ill.1974), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that a law school was not required to police the discriminatory practices of employers using its placement facilities. The court did find that the law school was an employment agency, but found that employment agencies are only obligated to refer potential employees without discrimination.[229][230]
  • United States: The Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) of 1974 is one of the several landmark laws passed by the United States Congress outlining federal protections against the gender discrimination of women in education (educational equity). WEEA was enacted as Section 513 of P.L. 93-380. In 1984, Congress rewrote the WEEA legislation.
  • United Kingdom: The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (c. 65) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which protected men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status. The Act concerned employment, training, education, harassment, the provision of goods and services, and the disposal of premises.
  • Sweden: The right to abortion is secured.[62]
  • Spain: abolition of the permiso marital (which required married women to have their husbands' consent for nearly all economic activities, including employment, ownership of property and traveling away from home).[231]
  • France: The Veil Law legalized abortion.[178]
  • France: In France, Article 324 legally permitted the murders of an unfaithful wife and her lover at the hand of her husband,[232] though only "at the moment" when the wife and her lover were "[caught] in the fact" by the husband in the matrimonial home.[233] On November 7, 1975, Law no. 617/75 Article 17 repealed Article 324.
  • Austria: abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceeding.[161]
  • Italy: Law no 151/1975 provides for gender equality within marriage, abolishing the legal dominance of the husband.[234][235]
  • United States: Stanton v. Stanton, was a 421 U.S. 7 (1975) United States Supreme Court case which struck down Utah's definitions of adulthood as a violation of equal protection: females reached adulthood at 18; males at 21.[236]
  • United States: Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which unanimously held that the gender-based distinction under 42 U.S.C. § 402(g) of the Social Security Act of 1935—which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minor children—violated the right to equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • United States: Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975), is a significant Supreme Court of the United States case, which held women could not be excluded from a venire, or jury pool, on the basis of having to register for jury duty.
  • United States: On February 19, 1975 the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in the case Jacobs v. Theimer made Texas the first state in America to declare a woman could sue her doctor for a wrongful birth.[237][238][239] That case involved Dortha Jean Jacobs (later Dortha Biggs), who caught rubella while pregnant and gave birth to Lesli, who was severely disabled.[239][237] Dortha and her husband sued her doctor, saying he did not diagnose the rubella or warn them how it would affect the pregnancy.[239]
  • United States: Schlesinger v. Ballard, 419 U.S. 498 (1975), was a United States Supreme Court case that upheld a federal statute granting female Naval officers four more years of commissioned service before mandatory discharge than male Naval officers.[240] A federal statute granted female Naval officers fourteen years of commissioned service while allowing only nine years of commissioned service for male Naval officers before mandatory discharge. The Supreme Court held that the law passed intermediate scrutiny equal protection analysis because women, excluded from combat duty, had fewer opportunities for advancement in the military. The Court found the statute to directly compensate for the past statutory barriers to advancement.[241]
  • United States: Joan Little became the first woman in United States history to be acquitted using the defense that she used deadly force to resist sexual assault.[242][243]
  • United States, Tennessee: In Dunn v. Palermo, the Supreme Court of Tennessee held that "in this jurisdiction a woman, upon marriage, has a freedom of choice. She may elect to retain her own surname or she may adopt the surname of her husband. The choice is hers. We hold that a person's legal name is that given at birth, or as voluntarily changed by either spouse at the time of marriage, or as changed by affirmative acts as provided under the Constitution and laws of the State of Tennessee. So long as a person's name remains constant and consistent, and unless and until changed in the prescribed manner, and absent any fraudulent or legally impermissible intent, the State has no legitimate concern."[244]
  • United States, Wisconsin: In Kruzel v. Podell (1975), the Supreme Court of Wisconsin decided that a woman upon marriage adopts the last name of her husband by customarily using that name after marriage, but also stated that no law required her to.[245]
  • South Africa: The Abortion and Sterilization Act, 1975, only allowed abortions in very limited circumstances.
  • Austria: reform to marriage law removing the husband's power to restrict his wife's employment.[246]
  • United States: Bellotti v. Baird, 428 U.S. 132 (1976), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Massachusetts law requiring parental consent to a minor's abortion, which provided that "if one or both of the [minor]'s parents refuse ... consent, consent may be obtained by order of a judge ... for good cause shown."[247] The decision was unanimous, and the opinion of the Court was written by Justice Blackmun. The law in question "permits a minor capable of giving informed consent to obtain a court order allowing abortion without parental consultation, and further permits even a minor incapable of giving informed consent to obtain an abortion order without parental consultation where it is shown that abortion would be in her best interests."[247]
  • United States: Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976), was the first case in which a majority of the United States Supreme Court determined that statutory or administrative sex classifications were subject to intermediate scrutiny under Fourteenth Amendment's the Equal Protection Clause. The Court also acknowledged that parties economically affected by regulations may challenge them "by acting as advocates of the rights of third parties who seek access to their market or function." The case specifically concerned the fact that Oklahoma passed a statute prohibiting the sale of "nonintoxicating" 3.2% beer to males under the age of 21 but allowed females over the age of 18 to purchase it. The Court held that the gender classifications made by the Oklahoma statute were unconstitutional because the statistics relied on by the state were insufficient to show a substantial relationship between the statute and the benefits intended to stem from it.
  • United States: Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976) is a United States Supreme Court case on abortion. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri statute regulating abortion. The Court upheld the right to have an abortion, declaring unconstitutional the statute's requirement of prior written consent from a parent (in the case of a minor) or a spouse (in the case of a married woman).[248]
  • United States: In United States politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother.[249][250] The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but rather is a "rider" that in various forms has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976.[249] Legislation including the Hyde Amendment generally only restricts the use of funds allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services and primarily affects Medicaid.[249][250]
  • Japan: In Japan, marriage law requires that married couples share a surname because they must belong to the same koseki (household). It has been possible since 1976[251] for the husband to join the wife's family in certain circumstances.[252]
  • Bahrain: Article 353 was enacted; it exempts rapists (defined in Article 344[50]) from punishment if they marry their victim.
  • Ireland: Prior to the Family Home Protection Act, 1976, a husband could sell or mortgage the family home, without the consent or even knowledge of his wife.
  • Northern Ireland: Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976
  • Pakistan: Anti-dowry law of 1976; it has proven to be unenforceable.
  • Iran: In the Judicial system of Iran, until 1976, it was the man who had the right to choose the surname of his family, including his wife. However, since then, all people are allowed to choose their family names, and there has been no more imposition on behalf of the husband regarding his wife's change in surname.[253][254]
  • West Germany: West Germany legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
  • Afghanistan: Full equality of men and women before the law.[71]
  • West Germany: reform of family law provides for gender equality in marriage.[255]
  • United States: Beal v. Doe, 432 U.S. 438 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case that concerned the disbursement of federal funds in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania statute restricted federal funding to abortion clinics. The Supreme Court ruled states are not required to treat abortion in the same manner as potential motherhood. The opinion of the Court left the central holding of the Roe v. Wade decision – abortion as a right – intact. The statute was upheld, with Justice Powell writing the majority opinion.
  • United States: Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that the different treatment of men and women mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 402(f)(1)(D) constituted invidious discrimination against female wage earners by affording them less protection for their surviving spouses than is provided to male employees, and therefore violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • United States: Carey v. Population Services International, 431 U.S. 678 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that it was unconstitutional to prohibit anyone other than a licensed pharmacist to distribute nonprescription contraceptives to persons 16 years of age or over, to prohibit the distribution of nonprescription contraceptives by any adult to minors under 16 years of age, and to prohibit anyone, including licensed pharmacists, to advertise or display contraceptives.
  • United States: Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313 (1977) was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that Section 215 of the Social Security Act does not violate due process by allowing women to calculate retirement benefits without including additional low-earning years, since it is an attempt to compensate for previous discrimination.
  • United States: In 1977, the National Partnership for Women & Families litigated and achieved a significant victory in Barnes v. Costle, a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that held that any retaliation by a boss against an employee for rejecting sexual advances violates Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination.[256]
  • Ireland: The Employment Equality Act of 1977[257] prohibited most gender discrimination in employment.
  • Germany: In Germany, the marriage name law has been as such since 1977: a woman may adopt her husband's surname or a man may adopt his wife's surname. One of them may use a name combined from both surnames. The remaining single name is the "family name" (Ehename), which will be the surname of the children. If a man and woman decide to keep and use their birth names after the wedding (no combined name), they have to declare one of those names the "family name". A combined name is not possible as a family name, but, since 2005, it has been possible to have a double name as a family name if one already had a double name, and the partner adopts that name. Double names then must be hyphenated. All family members must use that double name.[258][259]
  • United States, Washington: The January 7, 1977 Supreme Court ruling in State of Washington v. Wanrow was an important victory for the feminist cause of gender-equality before the law. In a landmark ruling, the Washington Supreme Court, sitting en banc, declared that Yvonne Wanrow was entitled to have a jury consider her actions in the light of her "perceptions of the situation, including those perceptions which were the product of our nation's long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination".[260] The ruling was the first in America recognizing the particular legal problems of women who defend themselves or their children from male attackers, and was again affirmed by the Washington Supreme Court in denying the prosecutor's petition for rehearing in 1979.[260][261] Before the Wanrow decision, standard jury instructions asked what a "reasonably prudent man" would have done, even if the accused was a woman; the Wanrow decision set a precedent that when a woman is tried in a criminal trial the juries should ask "what a reasonably prudent woman similarly situated would have done".[262]
  • Norway: Law on the work environment that allows, among other reforms, to extend pregnancy leave and greater access to parental leave.
  • Germany: Until 1977 married women in Germany could not work without permission from their husbands.[263]
  • New Zealand: New Zealand legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
  • Italy: Italy legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
  • Austria: reform to family law providing gender equality in parental rights over children, and ownership of property and assets, ending the legal authority of the husband.[246]
  • Afghanistan: Mandatory literacy and education of all females.[71]
  • Dominican Republic: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • 'Rhodesia'-Zimbabwe: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Portugal: new family law providing for gender equality between husband and wife comes into force.[264]
  • United States: Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977), was the first United States Supreme Court case which the bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) defense was used. The court held that Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not, in the absence of business necessity, set height and weight restrictions which have a disproportionately adverse effect on one gender. However, on the issue of whether women could fill close contact jobs in all male maximum security prisons the Court ruled 6–3 that the BFOQ defense was legitimate in this case. The reason for this finding is that female prison guards were more vulnerable to male sexual attack than male prison guards.[265]
  • Canada: Bliss v Canada (AG) 1 S.C.R. 183 is a famous Supreme Court of Canada decision on equality rights for women under the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Court held that women were not entitled to benefits denied to them by the Unemployment Insurance Act during a certain period of pregnancy. This case has since become the prime example demonstrating the inadequacies of the Canadian Bill of Rights in protecting individuals' rights.
  • United States: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is a United States federal statute. It amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy."[266] The Act covers discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." It only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.[267][268] Employers are exempt from providing medical coverage for elective abortions – except in the case that the mother's life is threatened – but are required to provide disability and sick leave for women who are recovering from an abortion.[269]
  • United States: Judge John Sirica ruled the law banning Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional in the case Owens v. Brown. That same year, Congress approved a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships.[270]
  • United States: The Mann Act originally made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In 1978, Congress updated the Mann Act's definition of "transportation" and added protections against commercial sexual exploitation for minors.
  • United States: The federal lawsuit, Melissa Ludtke and Time, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball et al. (1978) is credited with giving equal access to Major League Baseball locker rooms to women sports reporters.[271][272] In 1977, Ludtke sued the baseball commission on the basis that her 14th amendment rights were violated when she was denied access to the New York Yankees clubhouse while reporting on the 1977 World Series.[273][274] She won the lawsuit.[275][276] The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York stated her fourteenth amendment right was violated since the New York Yankees clubhouse was controlled by New York City. That court also stated that her fundamental right to pursue a career was violated based on her sex.[277]
  • Norway: In spring 1978, the law on free access to abortion was passed.
  • United States: The Edmunds–Tucker Act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. Marshal and a host of deputies.

The act: -Disincorporated the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.[278]
-Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
-Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
-Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
-Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.[279]
-Disenfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).[280]
- Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
- Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.
[281] In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States. The act was repealed in 1978.[282][283]

  • Chile: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • West Germany: reform to parental rights law giving equal legal rights to the mother and the father, abolishing the legal authority of the father.[284]
  • International: The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty, was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly.
  • United States: Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622 (1979) is a United States Supreme Court case that ruled that teenagers do not have to secure parental consent to obtain an abortion. The Court, 8–1, elaborates on its parental consent decision of 1976. It implies that states may be able to require a pregnant, unmarried minor to obtain parental consent to an abortion so long as the state law provides an alternative procedure to parental approval, such as letting the minor seek a state judge's approval instead. This plurality opinion declined to fully extend the right to seek and obtain an abortion, granted to adult women in Roe v. Wade, to minors.[285] The Court rejected this extension to minors by placing emphasis on the especially vulnerable nature of children, their "inability to make critical decisions in an informed and mature manner; and the importance of the parental role in child rearing."[285][286]
  • United States: The Supreme Court ruled in Califano v. Westcott that two-parent families with unemployed mothers are entitled to AFDC benefits.
  • United States: Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, which held void for vagueness part of Pennsylvania's 1974 Abortion Control Act. The section in question was the following:

(a) Every person who performs or induces an abortion shall prior thereto have made a determination based on his experience, judgment or professional competence that the fetus is not viable, and if the determination is that the fetus is viable or if there is sufficient reason to believe that the fetus may be viable, shall exercise that degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the fetus which such person would be required to exercise in order to preserve the life and health of any fetus intended to be born and not aborted and the abortion technique employed shall be that which would provide the best opportunity for the fetus to be aborted alive so long as a different technique would not be necessary in order to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Doctors who failed to adhere to the provisions of this section were liable to civil and criminal prosecution "as would pertain to him had the fetus been a child who was intended to be born and not aborted." Franklin and others sued, arguing that the provision was both vague and overbroad. In a 6–3 decision written by Roe author Harry Blackmun, the Supreme Court agreed, finding that requiring a determination "if... the fetus is viable or if there is sufficient reason to believe the fetus may be viable" was insufficient and impermissibly vague guidance for physicians who might face criminal liability if a jury disagrees with their judgment.

The law was challenged as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by a woman, who argued that the law discriminated on the basis of sex because so few women were veterans.[287]

  • Ireland: The Health (Family Planning) Act, 1979 allowed the sale of contraceptives in Ireland, upon presentation of a prescription.
  • Pakistan: In Pakistan, the Hudood Ordinances of 1979 subsumed prosecution of rape under the category of zina, making rape extremely difficult to prove and exposing the victims to jail sentences for admitting illicit intercourse.[288][289] Although these laws were amended in 2006, they still blur the legal distinction between rape and consensual sex.[290]
  • United States: Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357 (1979), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the exemption on request of women from jury service under Missouri law, resulting in an average of less than 15% women on jury venires in the forum county, violated the "fair-cross-section" requirement of the Sixth Amendment as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth.
  • Norway: Law on Gender Equality (implemented in 1979). To ensure compliance, an ombudsman responsible for enforcing the law on gender equality is created along with a complaints committee for equality. Norway is the first country to adopt such means. Even if the sanctions were limited, the mediator had a genuine moral authority.
  • Sweden: Gender discrimination forbidden by law.[134]
  • United States: Shyamala Rajender v. University of Minnesota was a landmark class action lawsuit dealing with sexual discrimination at an American university.[291] The case was filed on September 5, 1973 by Shyamala Rajender, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Rajender accused the university of engaging in employment discrimination on the basis of sex and national origin after she was turned down for a tenure-track position despite being recommended for the position by several university committees.[292] The suit was certified as a class action by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota in 1978. After eleven weeks of trial, the suit was settled in 1980 by a consent decree. Rajender received $100,000 and Judge Miles Lord enjoined the university from discriminating against women on the basis of sex.[293] Rajender's attorneys were awarded approximately $2 million in fees.[294]
  • United States: Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297 (1980),[295] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that States that participated in Medicaid were not required to fund medically necessary abortions for which federal reimbursement was unavailable as a result of the Hyde Amendment, which restricted the use of federal funds for abortion. The Court also held that the funding restrictions of the Hyde Amendment did not violate either the Fifth Amendment or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  • United States: In William v. Zbaraz, the United States Supreme Court upheld that states could constitutionally make their own versions of the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment, and that states/the federal government have no statutory or constitutional obligation to fund medically necessary abortions.
  • Iran: Hijab was made mandatory in government and public offices in Iran in 1980, which provoked only disorganized reactions, and in 1983 it became mandatory for all women.[15]
  • Turkey: The hijab was banned in universities and public buildings until late 2013 – this included libraries or government buildings. The ban was first in place during the 1980 military coup, but the law was strengthened in 1997.
  • United States: Alexander v. Yale, 631 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1980),[296] was the first use of Title IX[297] in charges of sexual harassment against an educational institution.[298] It further established that sexual harassment of female students could be considered sex discrimination, and was thus illegal.
  • The Netherlands: The Netherlands legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
  • Ireland: Prior to 1981, criminal conversation existed in Ireland, and meant a man could sue anyone who slept with his wife, regardless of whether the wife consented, except that if the couple was already separated the husband could only sue if the separation was caused by the person he was suing.[299]
  • Spain: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • Italy: repeal of the law which provided for mitigated punishment in case of honor killings; prior to 1981, the law read: Art. 587: He who causes the death of a spouse, daughter, or sister upon discovering her in illegitimate carnal relations and in the heat of passion caused by the offence to his honour or that of his family will be sentenced to three to seven years. The same sentence shall apply to whom, in the above circumstances, causes the death of the person involved in illegitimate carnal relations with his spouse, daughter, or sister.[300][301]
  • Italy: Italy repealed Article 544 of the Penal Code that allowed male rapists of women to marry their victims to avoid punishment.[302]
  • United States: the full end of the legal subordination of a wife to her husband: Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981), a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held a Louisiana Head and Master law, which gave sole control of marital property to the husband, unconstitutional.[303]
  • United States: H. L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398 (1981) was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case, according to which a state may require a doctor to inform a teenaged girl's parents before performing an abortion or face criminal penalty.
  • United States: Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that the practice of requiring only men to register for the draft was constitutional. After extensive hearings, floor debate and committee sessions on the matter, the United States Congress enacted the law, as it had previously been, to apply to men only. Several attorneys, including Robert L. Goldberg, subsequently challenged the gender distinction as unconstitutional. (The named defendant is Bernard D. Rostker, Director of the Selective Service System.) In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court held that this gender distinction was not a violation of the equal protection component of the due process clause, and that the Act would stand as passed.
  • United States: Bundy v. Jackson, 641 F.2d 934 (C.A. D.C. 1981), was a D.C. Circuit opinion, written by Judge Skelly Wright, that held that workplace sexual harassment could constitute employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • United States: Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County, 450 U.S. 464 (1981), was a United States Supreme Court case over the issue of gender bias in statutory rape laws. The petitioner argued that the statutory rape law discriminated based on gender and was unconstitutional. The court ruled otherwise. Sexual intercourse entails a higher risk for women than men. Thus, the court found the law just in targeting men as the only possible perpetrators of statutory rape.[304]
  • Tunisia: Women with headscarves are banned from schools and government buildings, and those who insist on wearing them face losing their jobs.[305]
  • Canada: Prior to 1981 in Québec, married women would traditionally go by their husbands' surname in daily life, but their maiden name remained their legal name.[306] Since the passage of a 1981 provincial law intended to promote gender equality as outlined in the Québec Charter of Rights, no change may be made to a person's name without the authorization of the registrar of civil status or the authorization of the court. Newlyweds who wish to change their names upon marriage must therefore go through the same procedure as those changing their names for other reasons. The registrar of civil status may authorize a name change if: 1) the name the person generally uses does not correspond to the name on their birth certificate, 2) the name is of foreign origin or too difficult to pronounce or write in its original form, or 3) the name invites ridicule or has become infamous.[307] This law does not make it legal for a woman to immediately change her name upon marriage, as marriage is not listed among the reasons for a name change.[308]
  • United States: The version of the Hyde Amendment in force from 1981 until 1993 prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions "except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term."[309]
  • Norway: The Labour Code which dates from 1935 was revised regularly. Review of 1981: Provided equal treatment between men and women in hiring and salary.
  • Netherlands: gender equality in family law, abolishing the stipulation that the husband's opinion prevailed over the wife's regarding issues such as decisions on children's education and the domicile of the family.[328][329]
  • Peru: Legal majority for married women.[1]
  • South Africa: The Matrimonial Property Act of 1984 abolished the marital power prospectively (i.e. for marriages contracted after the act came into force) but not for marriages between black people.
  • Switzerland: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • Australia: Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • United States: The U.S. Supreme Court's 1984 ruling Grove City College v. Bell[330] held that Title IX applied only to those programs receiving direct federal aid.[331] The case reached the Supreme Court when Grove City College disagreed with the Department of Education's assertion that it was required to comply with Title IX. Grove City College was not a federally funded institution; however, they did accept students who were receiving Basic Educational Opportunity Grants through a Department of Education program.[330] The Department of Education's stance was that, because some of its students were receiving federal grants, the school was receiving federal assistance and Title IX applied to it. The Court decided that since Grove City College was only receiving federal funding through the grant program, only that program had to be in compliance. The ruling was a major victory for those opposed to Title IX, as it made many institutions' sports programs outside of the rule of Title IX and, thus, reduced the scope of Title IX.[332]
  • United States: Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984), was an opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States overturning the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit's application of a Minnesota antidiscrimination law, which had permitted the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) to exclude women from full membership.
  • United States: People v. Pointer[333] was a criminal law case from the California Court of Appeal, First District, which is significant because the trial judge included in his sentencing a prohibition on the defendant becoming pregnant during her period of probation. The appellate court held that such a prohibition was outside the bounds of a judge's sentencing authority. The case was remanded for resentencing to undo the overly broad prohibition against conception.
  • United States: In Tallon v. Liberty Hose Co. No. 1 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984), it was ruled that a volunteer fire department may be held liable under section 1983 for violating a plaintiff's constitutional rights.[334]
  • United States: In Hishon v. King & Spaulding (1984) the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination by employers in the context of any contractual employer/employee relationship, including but not limited to law partnerships.[335]
  • France: A new reform in 1985 abolishes the stipulation that the father has the sole power to administer the children's property.[188]
  • United Kingdom: the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985.
  • United States: The "Mexico City Policy" came into effect, and it directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available.
  • Japan: The Nationality Law was amended to allow Japanese mothers to pass Japanese nationality to their children.
  • Ireland: The Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1985 allowed the sale of condoms and spermicides to people over 18 in Ireland without having to present a prescription.
  • Norway: The Labour Code which dates from 1935 was revised regularly. Revision 1985: creation of a delegate for equality between men and women in business.
  • Djibouti: Women gained the right to stand for election.
  • United States: Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986) was a United States Supreme Court case involving a challenge to Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act of 1982.[236] The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sought an injunction to all enforcement of the Pennsylvania law. Although the law in question was similar to the one in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, in Thornburgh the Reagan administration asked the justices to overrule Roe v. Wade. Justice Blackmun's opinion for the court rejected this position, reaffirming Roe.
  • United States: Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), marked the United States Supreme Court's recognition of certain forms of sexual harassment as a violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and established the standards for analyzing whether conduct was unlawful and when an employer would be liable.
  • United States: The Mann Act originally made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". In 1978, Congress updated the Mann Act's definition of "transportation" and added protections against commercial sexual exploitation for minors. In 1986 it was further amended to replace the ambiguous "debauchery" and "any other immoral purpose" with the more specific "any sexual activity for which* any person can be charged with a criminal offense" as well as to make it gender-neutral.[336]
  • Japan: The Women's Bureau of the Ministry of Labor enacted an Equal Employment Opportunity Law,[337] the first "gender equality law formulated mainly by Japanese women."[337]
  • Ireland: The Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act, 1986,[338] abolished the dependent domicile of the wife.
  • India: The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act is an Act of the Parliament of India which was enacted to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.[339][340]
  • India except Jammu and Kashmir: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 was passed; as per the Act, a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from her former husband and this should be paid within the period of iddah. According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of this Act, when a Muslim divorced woman is unable to support herself after the iddah period that she must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man, the magistrate is empowered to make an order for the payment of maintenance by her relatives who would be entitled to inherit her property on her death according to Muslim Law. But when a divorced woman has no such relatives, and does not have enough means to pay the maintenance, the magistrate would order the State Waqf Board to pay the maintenance. The 'liability' of husband to pay the maintenance was thus restricted to the period of the iddah only.[341][342]
  • India: Mary Roy won a lawsuit in 1986, against the inheritance legislation of her Keralite Syrian Christian community in the Supreme Court. The judgement ensured equal rights for Syrian Christian women with their male siblings in regard to their ancestral property.[343][344] Until then, her Syrian Christian community followed the provisions of the Travancore Succession Act of 1916 and the Cochin Succession Act, 1921, while elsewhere in India the same community followed the Indian Succession Act of 1925.[345]
  • Argentina: divorce is legalized; the new law also provides for gender equality between the wife and husband.[346]
  • Paraguay: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • United States: California Federal S. & L. Assn. v. Guerra, 479 U.S. 272 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court case about whether a state may require employers to provide greater pregnancy benefits than required by federal law, as well as the ability to require pregnancy benefits to women without similar benefits to men. The court held that The California Fair Employment and Housing Act in 12945(b)(2), which requires employers to provide leave and reinstatement to employees disabled by pregnancy, is consistent with federal law.
  • United States: In 1976, the Rotary Club of Duarte in Duarte, California, admitted three women as members. After the club refused to remove the women from membership, Rotary International revoked the club's charter in 1978. The Duarte club filed suit in the California courts, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnic origin. Rotary International then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court, on 4 May 1987, confirmed the Californian decision supporting women, in the case Board of Directors, Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte.[347] Rotary International then removed the gender requirements from its requirements for club charters, and most clubs in most countries have opted to include women as members of Rotary Clubs.[348][349]
  • Johnson v. Transportation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987), is the only United States Supreme Court case to address a sex-based affirmative action plan in the employment context. The case was brought by Paul Johnson, a male Santa Clara Transportation Agency employee, who was passed over for a promotion in favor of Diane Joyce, a female employee who Johnson argued was less qualified. The Court found that the plan did not violate the protection against discrimination on the basis of sex in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII.[350]
  • Switzerland: legal reforms providing gender equality in marriage, abolishing the legal authority of the husband, come into force (these reforms had been approved in 1985 by voters in a referendum.[351][352][353]
  • South Africa: Marital power is abolished prospectively for marriages of black people under the civil law, but not for marriages contracted under customary law.
  • Brazil: husband no longer "head of the household" (which gave him certain legal powers over his wife).[161]
  • Rwanda: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • United States: The Civil Rights Restoration Act was passed in 1988 which extended Title IX coverage to all programs of any educational institution that receives any federal assistance, both direct and indirect.[354]
  • Canada: R v Morgentaler was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which held that the abortion provision in the Criminal Code was unconstitutional, as it violated a woman's right under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security of person. Since this ruling, there have been no criminal laws regulating abortion in Canada.
  • Ireland: The Family Law Act 1988 abolished the legal action for restitution of conjugal rights.[355]
  • India: The Indian Sati Prevention Act from 1988 further criminalised any type of aiding, abetting, and glorifying of sati.
  • France: France legalized the "abortion pill" mifepristone (RU-486).
  • Canada: In R. v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the abortion regulation which allowed abortions in some circumstances but required approval of a committee of doctors for violating a woman's constitutional "security of person"; Canadian law has not regulated abortion ever since.
  • United States: Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court decision on July 3, 1989 upholding a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees in performing, assisting with, or counseling on abortions. The Supreme Court in Webster allowed for states to legislate in an area that had previously been thought to be forbidden under Roe v. Wade.
  • United States: Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), was an important decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of employer liability for sex discrimination. The Court held that the employer, the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the decision regarding employment would have been the same if sex discrimination had not occurred. The accounting firm failed to prove that the same decision to postpone Ann Hopkins's promotion to partnership would have still been made in the absence of sex discrimination, and therefore, the employment decision constituted sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The significance of the Supreme Court's ruling was twofold. First, it established that gender stereotyping is actionable as sex discrimination. Second, it established the mixed-motive framework as an evidentiary framework for proving discrimination under a disparate treatment theory even when lawful reasons for the adverse employment action are also present.[356]
  • United States: The first "Restroom Equity" Act in the United States was passed in California in 1989.[357] It was introduced by then-Senator Arthur Torres after several long waits for his wife to return from the bathroom.[357]
  • Canada: Brooks v Canada Safeway Ltd [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1219 is a leading Supreme Court of Canada decision on employer discrimination of pregnant employees. The Court found that Safeway violated the provincial Human Rights Act by failing to provide equal compensation for those who missed work due to pregnancy. This decision overturned the controversial case of Bliss v. Attorney General of Canada.
  • England: Kiranjit Ahluwalia is an Indian woman who came to international attention after burning her husband to death in 1989 in the UK. She claimed it was in response to ten years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.[358] After initially being convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, Ahluwalia's conviction was later overturned on grounds of inadequate counsel and replaced with voluntary manslaughter. Although her submission of provocation failed (under R v Duffy the loss of control needed to be sudden,[359] which this was not), she successfully pleaded the partial defence of diminished responsibility under s.2 Homicide Act 1957 on the grounds that fresh medical evidence (which was not available at her original trial) may indicate diminished mental responsibility.[360]
  • England: The Sara Thornton case concerns that of Englishwoman Sara Thornton who was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of the 1989 murder of her violent and alcoholic husband. Thornton never denied the killing, but claimed it had been an accident during an argument. The prosecution at her trial argued that she had carried out the act for financial gain, and she was found guilty of murder. The case became a cause célèbre among women's groups, and ignited a political debate on how the courts should deal with the issue of domestic violence. At a retrial in 1996 Thornton was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and freed from custody.
  • United States: Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court abortion rights case that dealt with whether a state law may require notification of both parents before a minor can obtain an abortion. The law in question provided a judicial alternative. The law was declared valid with the judicial bypass, but the ruling struck down the two-parent notification requirement.
  • Ireland: Marital rape was outlawed in 1990.[361]
  • Canada: R v. Lavallee, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 852 is a leading Supreme Court of Canada case on the legal recognition of battered woman syndrome. The judgment, written by Justice Bertha Wilson, is generally considered one of her most famous. The court held in favor of allowing battered woman syndrome to explain how the mental conditions for self-defense were present in this case, and Lavallee's acquittal for killing the man she was in an abusive common law relationship with was restored. Justice Wilson, writing for the Court, held that expert evidence is often needed when stereotypes and myths are inherent in a lay-person's reasoning. In particular here, the woman's experience and perspective is relevant to inform the reasonable person's standard required for self-defense.
  • Romania: Abortion was legalized on request in Romania.
  • United Kingdom: The Abortion Act in the United Kingdom was amended so that abortion is legal only up to 24 weeks, rather than 28, except in unusual cases.
  • United Kingdom: England and Wales: Marital rape was made illegal by the case of R v R.[362]
  • United States: Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991), was a United States Supreme Court case decided in 1991 that found restrictions on funding with regard to abortion counseling to be constitutionally permissible.
  • United States: United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc. 499 U.S. 187 (1991)[363] is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States establishing that private sector policies which allow men but not women to knowingly work in potentially hazardous occupations is gender discrimination and violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. At the time the case was heard, it was considered one of the most important sex-discrimination cases since the passage of Title VII.[364]
  • United States: In Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., a Florida district court judge ruled that "pictures of nude and partially nude women" placed throughout the workplace do constitute sexual harassment.[365]
  • Peru: In 1991, a law was modified to absolve co-conspirators in a gang rape case if one of them married the victim. In 1997, the law was completely repealed.[81]
  • Mexico: Mexico enacted a national marry-your-rapist law in 1931, which was repealed in 1991.[95] As of 2017, the laws of three states (Campeche, Baja California and Sonora) provide that marriage to the victim exonerates the perpetrator of the crime of estupro (seduction of minors).[96][97]
  • Argentina: The Argentine law 24,012 or Argentine quota law (Spanish: Ley de cupo) seeks to increase the number of women in government in Argentina, by setting quotas for the minimum representation of women on the ballots of each party at the legislative elections. The law was enacted in 1991.
  • India: In 1991, the Kerala High Court restricted entry of women above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 from Sabarimala Shrine as they were of the menstruating age. However, on 28th September 2018, the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban on the entry of women. It said that discrimination against women on any grounds, even religious, is unconstitutional.[366][367]
  • Brazil: Killing of wives due to adultery has been traditionally treated very leniently in Brazil, in court cases where husbands claimed the "legitimate defense of their honor" (legitima defesa da honra) as justification for the killing. Although this defense was not explicitly stipulated in the 20th-century Criminal Code, it has been successfully pleaded by lawyers throughout the 20th century, in particular in the interior of the country, though less so in the coastal big cities. In 1991 Brazil’s Supreme Court explicitly rejected the "honor defense" as having no basis in Brazilian law.[368][369][370]
  • United States: Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in which the constitutionality of several Pennsylvania state statutory provisions regarding abortion were challenged. Notably, the case was a turn from the Roe v. Wade decision to tie an abortion's legality to the third trimester, associating the legal timeframe with fetal viability. In theory, its aim was to make the woman's decision more thoughtful and informed.[371] The Court's plurality opinion upheld the constitutional right to have an abortion while altering the standard for analyzing restrictions on that right. Applying its new standard of review, the Court upheld four regulations and invalidated the requirement of spousal notification.
  • United States: In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), the United States Supreme Court overturned a statute prohibiting speech or symbolic expression that "arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender" on the grounds that, even if the specific statute was limited to fighting words, it was unconstitutionally content-based and viewpoint-based because of the limitation to race-/religion-/sex-based fighting words. The Court, however, made it repeatedly clear that the City could have pursued "any number" of other avenues, and reaffirmed the notion that "fighting words" could be properly regulated by municipal or state governments.
  • Italy: In Rome in 1992, a 45-year-old driving instructor was accused of rape. When he picked up an 18-year-old girl for her first driving lesson, he allegedly raped her for an hour, then told her that if she was to tell anyone he would kill her. Later that night she told her parents and her parents agreed to help her press charges. While the alleged rapist was convicted and sentenced, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans. It was argued that she must have necessarily have had to help her attacker remove her jeans, thus making the act consensual ("because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them...and by removing the jeans...it was no longer rape but consensual sex"). The Italian Supreme Court stated in its decision "it is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them."[372] This ruling sparked widespread feminist protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read "Jeans: An Alibi for Rape." As a sign of support, the California Senate and Assembly followed suit. Soon Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, (now Peace Over Violence) made Denim Day an annual event. As of 2011 at least 20 U.S. states officially recognize Denim Day in April. Wearing jeans on this day has become an international symbol of protest. As of 2008 the Italian Supreme Court has overturned their findings, and there is no longer a "denim" defense to the charge of rape.
  • Botswana: Attorney General v Dow was a Botswanan High Court case. The plaintiff, Unity Dow, was a citizen of Botswana, married to a non-citizen, whose children had been denied citizenship under a provision of the Citizenship Act of 1984. This Act conferred citizenship on a child born in Botswana only if "a) his father was a citizen of Botswana; or b) in the case of a person born out-of-wedlock, his mother was a citizen of Botswana." The plaintiff claimed that this provision violated guarantees of the Constitution of Botswana. The High Court agreed, holding that the provision infringed:

-the right to liberty; -the right not to be expelled from Botswana; -the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment; and -the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

The Court concluded that the right to liberty had been infringed because the provision hampered a woman's free choice to marry a non-citizen and, in fact, undermined marriage. The Court also decided that the right not to be expelled from Botswana was infringed because, if the plaintiff's resident permit was not renewed, she would be forced to leave Botswana if she desired to stay with her family. Finally, the Court stated that the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment was infringed because any law discriminating against women constitutes an offense against human dignity.

This decision was subsequently upheld by the Botswana Court of Appeal.[373]

  • South Africa: Marital power is repealed for all civil marriages, whenever they were contracted.[148] The marital power persisted, however, in the Transkei (which was nominally independent from 1976 to 1994) but it was held to be unconstitutional for civil marriages by the High Court in 1999.[148]
  • United States: Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court held that 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) does not provide a federal cause of action against persons obstructing access to abortion clinics. Several abortion clinics (most known was the Alexandria Health Clinic) sued to prevent Jayne Bray and other anti-abortion protesters from voicing their freedom of speech in front of the clinics in Washington D.C.[378] Alexandria Women's Health Clinic reported that the protesters violated 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), which prohibits protests to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws."[379]
  • United States: The "Mexico City Policy", which directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available, was rescinded by President Clinton.
  • United States: Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17 (1993), is a case in which the United States of America Supreme Court clarified the definition of a "hostile" or "abusive" work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Court held that a determination about whether a work environment is hostile or abusive requires a consideration of all relevant circumstances.[380]
  • United States: On October 22, 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1994.[381] The Act contained a new version of the Hyde Amendment that expanded the category of abortions for which federal funds are available under Medicaid to include cases of rape and incest.[382]
  • United States: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Qualified medical and family reasons include: personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child.[383]
  • Ireland: In 1993, the Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1992 allowed the sale of contraceptives in Ireland without prescription.
  • Poland: Poland banned abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, severe congenital disorders, or threat to the life of the pregnant woman.
  • Malaysia: A judgment from the then–Supreme Court of Malaysia cites that the niqab, or purdah, "has nothing to do with (a woman's) constitutional right to profess and practise her Muslim religion", because Islam does not make it obligatory to cover the face.[384]
  • United States: The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994 (codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040). The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
  • United States: In 1994, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, sponsored by congresswoman Cardiss Collins, required federally assisted higher education institutions to disclose information on roster sizes for men's and women's teams, as well as budgets for recruiting, scholarships, coaches' salaries, and other expenses, annually.[385]
  • United States: J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., 511 U.S. 127 (1994), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that making peremptory challenges based solely on a prospective juror's sex is unconstitutional. J.E.B. extended the court's existing precedent in Batson v. Kentucky (1986), which found race-based peremptory challenges in criminal trials unconstitutional, and Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company (1991), which extended that principle to civil trials. As in Batson, the court found that sex-based challenges violate the Equal Protection Clause.
  • United States: The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE or the Access Act, Pub. L. No. 103-259, 108 Stat. 694) (May 26, 1994, 18 U.S.C. § 248) is a United States law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in May 1994, which prohibits the following three things: (1) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is obtaining reproductive health services or providing reproductive health services (this portion of the law typically refers to abortion clinics), (2) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is exercising or trying to exercise their First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship, (3) the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility or a place of worship.[386][387]
  • Malawi: In Malawi women were not legally allowed to wear trousers under President Kamuzu Banda's rule until 1994.[388] This law was introduced in 1965.[389]
  • Ghana: The Criminal Code was amended in 1994 to outlaw FGM.
  • El Salvador: A law made in 1994 known as Article 14, stated that as a general rule, persons under eighteen years of age can not marry, but established in the second paragraph, that exceptionally they can contract marriage if they are pubescent, they already have a child in common, or if the woman is pregnant.[390] This law was abolished in 2017.[391]
  • France: Until 1994, France kept in the French Penal Code the article from 1810 that exonerated a rapist in the event of a marriage to their victim.[392]
  • Canada: Thibaudeau v Canada, [1995] 2 SCR 627 was one of a trilogy of equality rights cases published by a divided Supreme Court of Canada in the spring of 1995.[393] The Court held that the provisions of the Income Tax Act requiring an ex-wife to include among her taxable income amounts received from ex-husband as alimony for maintenance of children is not a violation of the ex-wife's equality rights under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Dijibouti: FGM was outlawed in the country's revised Penal Code that went into effect in April 1995.
  • United States: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, enacted in 28 U.S.C. § 994 note Sec. 280003, requires the United States Sentencing Commission to increase the penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived gender, race, color, religion, national origin, or ethnicity of any person. In 1995, the Sentencing Commission implemented these guidelines, which only apply to federal crimes.[394]
  • Spain: A 1995 reform in the law allows the parents to choose whether the father's or the mother's surname goes first, although this order must be the same for all their children.
  • England: Emma Humphreys was a Welsh woman who was imprisoned in England in December 1985 at Her Majesty's pleasure, after being convicted of the murder of her violent 33-year-old boyfriend and pimp, Trevor Armitage.[395][396][397] Aged 17 when convicted, Humphreys spent a decade in prison before winning an appeal against the conviction, on 7 July 1995, on the grounds of long-term provocation. The Court of Appeal reduced the conviction to manslaughter, and she was released immediately.[398] Three years later she died, aged 30, from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs at her flat in Holloway, North London.[399] The successful appeal was significant because it supported the argument that courts should take long-term issues such as "battered woman syndrome" into account when considering a defense of provocation.[395][396][400][a] Humphreys was assisted in her defence by Justice for Women, a feminist law-reform group founded in 1991 by Julie Bindel and Harriet Wistrich.[402][403][404]
  • Burkina Faso: A law prohibiting FGM was enacted in 1996 and went into effect in February 1997.
  • Central African Republic: In 1996, the President issued an Ordinance prohibiting FGM throughout the country. It has the force of national law.
  • Namibia: The marital power is abolished in 1996 by the Married Persons Equality Act.
  • Angola: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[161]
  • Guatemala: the Guatemalan Constitutional Court struck down the adultery law, which was gendered, based both on the Constitution's gender equality clause and on human rights treaties including CEDAW.[405]
  • United States: Fauziya Kasinga, a 19-year-old member of the Tchamba-Kunsuntu tribe of Togo, was granted asylum in 1996 after leaving an arranged marriage to escape FGM; this set a precedent in US immigration law because it was the first time FGM was accepted as a form of persecution.[406]
  • United States: United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)'s long-standing male-only admission policy in a 7–1 decision. (Justice Clarence Thomas, whose son was enrolled at VMI at the time, recused himself.)
  • Italy: Italy amended its rape laws, toughening the punishment for sexual assault and reclassifying it from a moral offense to a criminal felony.[407]
  • Japan: The Eugenic Protection Law of 1948 made Japan one of the first countries to legalize induced abortion. This law was revised as the Maternal Body Protection Law in 1996.[145]
  • El Salvador: “In 1996 the Assembly of El Salvador repealed an old law that exonerated a rapist if he offered to marry the victim and she accepted.”[408] However, many rapists still had the ability to get away with rape by marrying the victim according to a law made in 1994 known as Article 14, which stated that as a general rule, persons under eighteen years of age can not marry, but established in the second paragraph, that exceptionally they can contract marriage if they are pubescent, they already have a child in common, or if the woman is pregnant.[409] This law was abolished in 2017.[391]
  • Ireland: In 1996, Ireland repealed its constitutional prohibition of divorce; this was effected by the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995, which was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on 17 June 1996.
  • South Africa: Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 – women in customary marriages no longer legal minors.[161]
  • United States: Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court identified the circumstances under which an employer may be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the acts of a supervisory employee whose sexual harassment of subordinates has created a hostile work environment amounting to employment discrimination. The court held that "an employer is vicariously liable for actionable discrimination caused by a supervisor, but subject to an affirmative defense looking to the reasonableness of the employer's conduct as well as that of a plaintiff victim."
  • United States: Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. was the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States. It was filed in 1988 on behalf of Lois Jenson and other female workers at the EVTAC mine in Eveleth, Minnesota on the state's northern Mesabi Range, which is part of the Iron Range. On December 23, 1998, just before the trial was set to begin, fifteen women settled with Eveleth Mines for a total of $3.5 million.
  • United States: Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the validity of laws relating to U.S. citizenship at birth for children born outside the United States, out of wedlock, to an American parent. The Court declined to overturn a more restrictive citizenship requirement applying to an illegitimate foreign-born child of an American father, as opposed to a child born to an American mother under similar circumstances.
  • Côte d'Ivoire: A December 18, 1998 law provides that harm to the integrity of the genital organ of a woman by complete or partial removal, excision, desensitization or by any other procedure will, if harmful to a woman's health, be punishable by imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of 360,000 to two million CFA Francs (approximately US$576–3,200). The penalty is five to twenty years incarceration if a death occurs during the procedure and up to five years' prohibition of medical practice, if this procedure is carried out by a doctor.
  • Tanzania: Section 169A of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act of 1998 prohibits FGM in Tanzania. Punishment is imprisonment of from five to fifteen years or a fine not exceeding 300,000 shillings (approximately US$250) or both. But the Tanzania 1998 Act protects only girls up to the age of 18 years.
  • Togo: On October 30, 1998, the National Assembly unanimously voted to outlaw the practice of FGM.
  • Ireland: The Employment Equality Act, 1998[423] upholds gender equality.
  • Pakistan: Anti-dowry law of 1998; it has proven to be unenforceable.
  • United States: Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 US 742 (1998) is a landmark employment law case of the United States Supreme Court holding that employers are liable if supervisors create a hostile work environment for employees. Ellerth also introduced a two-part affirmative defense allowing employers to avoid sex discrimination liability if they follow best practices. Ellerth is often considered alongside Faragher v. City of Boca Raton.
  • United States: In Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, the Supreme Court ruled that in order for a party to recover sexual harassment damages under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, they must show that a school district official knew what was happening and was able to take measures to correct it if they wished, and that the educational establishment deliberately failed to respond properly. Since that was not what happened in this case, Lago Vista was not liable for sexual harassment damages.[424]
  • United States: Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 523 U.S. 75 (1998), was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. The case arose out of a suit for sex discrimination by a male oil-rig worker, who claimed that he was repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment by his male co-workers with the acquiescence of his employer. The Court held that Title VII's protection against workplace discrimination "because of... sex" applied to harassment in the workplace between members of the same sex.
  • New Zealand: In R v Fate (1998) 16 CRNZ 88 a woman who had come to New Zealand from the small island of Nanumea, which is part of the Tuvalu Islands, received a two-year sentence for manslaughter by provocation. Mrs. Fate spoke no English and was isolated within a small close-knit Wellington community of 12 families, so she felt trapped in her abusive relationship.[425]
  • South Africa: In Christian Lawyers Association and Others v Minister of Health and Others, the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa upholds the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, holding that the Constitution of South Africa does not forbid abortions.[426]
  • United States: A United States House of Representatives appropriations bill (HR 2490) that contained an amendment specifically permitting breastfeeding[427] was signed into law on September 29, 1999. It stipulated that no government funds may be used to enforce any prohibition on women breastfeeding their children in federal buildings or on federal property.
  • United States: A federal law enacted in 1999 specifically provides that "a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a federal building or on federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location."[428]
  • United States: In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that a school board can be held responsible under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for student-on-student sexual harassment.[429]
  • Senegal: A law that was passed in January 1999 makes FGM illegal in Senegal.[430]
  • South Africa: The marital power persisted in the Transkei (which was nominally independent from 1976 to 1994) but it was held to be unconstitutional for civil marriages by the Transkei High Court in 1999.[148]
  • Japan: The birth control pill was legalized in Japan in 1999.[431]
  • Egypt: Article 291 of the Egypt Penal Code was repealed by former president Hosni Mubarak by a presidential decree.[6] The article had been adopted in 1904 and inspired by a French provision.[7] The article allowed any individual who committed sexual assault to avoid penalty if he entered into marriage with the female victim.[5]
  • Chile: A new Sexual Crimes Code, which no longer contained a rape-marriage law, was enacted in July 1999.[432]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Court of Appeal quashed her murder conviction holding that her characteristic of attention seeking was sufficiently permanent and could be taken into account in assessing the standard of control expected of the defendant."[401]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Cite error: The named reference deere was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "Cixi Outlaws Foot Binding", History Channel
  3. ^ a b c d e Cite error: The named reference Mazon2003 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ a b "Göteborgs universitetsbibliotek: Akademikeryrken". Ub.gu.se. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  5. ^ a b c Sadek, George “Egypt: Sexual Violence Against Women” The Law Library of Congress, Global Legal Research Center, October 2016, Accessed March 14, 2017
  6. ^ a b AP (April 4, 1999). "Egypt to abolish archaic rape law". The Independent. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Dupret, Baudouin (2011). Adjudication in Action: An Ethnomethodology of Law, Morality and Justice. p. 66.
  8. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Carlson was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ a b c d e Cite error: The named reference Richard J Evans 1979 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Natalija Matić Zrnić 1956 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Cite error: The named reference autogenerated2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference google16 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Holmes, Diana (1996). French Women's Writing, 1848–1994. The Athlone Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-485-91004-9.
  14. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Arnot-Usborne was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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