Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting)

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Timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting) represents formal changes and reforms within women's rights toward equality with men in society. 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.


Before the 19th century[edit]

1707
  • Germany: The efforts of Dorothea von Velen—mistress of Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine—led to the abolition of couverture in the Electorate of the Palatinate in 1707, making it an early beacon of women's rights. The Palatinate was the first German state to abolish couverture, but it was briefly re-instated by Karl III Philipp, Johann Wilhelm's successor. Dorothea protested from exile in Amsterdam. She published her memoirs, A Life for Reform, which were highly critical of Karl III Philipp's government. To avoid a scandal, Karl III Philipp yielded to Dorothea's demands, and couverture was once again abolished.[1]
1718
  • Russia: Gender segregation is banned.[2]
  • Sweden: Female taxpaying members of the cities' guilds are allowed to stand for election during the age of liberty; this right is banned (for local elections) in 1758 and (general elections) in 1771.[3]
  • United States: Province of Pennsylvania (now U.S. state of Pennsylvania)- Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1722
  • Russia: Ban against forced marriages.[2]
1734
  • Sweden: In the Civil Code of 1734, men are banned from selling the property of their wife without her consent, and both spouses regardless of gender are secured the right to divorce upon adultery, while the innocent party are secured custody of the children.[5]
  • Sweden: Unmarried women, normally under the guardianship of their closest male relative, are granted the right to be declared of legal majority by dispensation from the monarch.[6]
1741
  • Sweden: The requirement of guild membership for innkeepers is dropped, effectively opening the profession to women.[7]
1749
  • Sweden: Women are given the right to engage in the trade of knick-knacks,[8] and the permit to be active as a street seller in Stockholm, a very common profession for poor women, are to be foremost issued in favor of women in need of self-support.[9]
1753
  • Russia: Married women granted separate economy.[10]
1754
1772
  • Sweden: The permit to engage in Tobacco trade is foremost to be granted to (widowed and married) women in need to support themselves.[8]
1776
1778
  • Sweden: Barnamordsplakatet; unmarried women are allowed to leave their home town to give birth anonymously and have the birth registered anonymously, to refrain from answering any questions about the birth and, if they choose to keep their child, to have their unmarried status not mentioned in official documents to avoid social embarrassment.
1779
  • Spain: The guild restrictions which prevented females from holding certain professions are abolished.[12]
1784
  • Spain: Women are by royal decree allowed to accept any profession compatible with her "sex, dignity and strength".[12]
1791
  • France: Equal inheritance rights (abolished in 1804).[13]
1792
  • France: Divorce is legalized for both sexes.[14] (Abolished for women in 1804.)
  • France: Local women-units of the defense army are founded in several cities; although the military was never officially open to women, about eight thousand women were estimated to have served openly in the French armée in local troops (but not in the battle fields) between 1792 and 1794, but women were officially barred from the armée in 1795.[15]
1798
  • Sweden: Married business women are given legal majority and juridical responsibility within the affairs of their business enterprise, despite being otherwise under guardianship of their spouse.[7]

19th century[edit]

1800–1849[edit]

1804
  • Sweden: Women are granted the permit to manufacture and sell candles.[8]
1810
  • Sweden: The right of an unmarried woman to be declared of legal majority by royal dispensation are officially confirmed by parliament.[16]
1811
  • Austria: Married women are granted separate economy and the right to choose profession.[17]
  • Sweden: Married businesswomen are granted the right to make decisions about their own affairs without their husband's consent.[14]
1817
  • England: Public whipping of women abolished (public whipping of men followed in 1868).[18]
1821
  • United States, Maine: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1823
  • Argentina: The charitable Beneficial Society is charged by the government to establish and control (private) elementary schools for girls (they retain the control of the schools for girls until 1876).[19]
1829
  • India: The Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829 bans the practice of Sati in British Bengal (the ban is extended to Madras and Bombay the following year).
  • Sweden: Midwives are allowed to use surgical instruments, which are unique in Europe at the time and gives them surgical status.[20]
1833
  • Guatemala: Divorce legalized (rescinded in 1840 and reintroduced in 1894).[21]
1835
  • United States, Arkansas: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Massachusetts: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
  • United States, Tennessee: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1839
1840
  • Republic of Texas: Married women allowed to own property in their own name.[22]
  • United States, Maine: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Maryland: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
1842
  • Norway: Unmarried women are given the right to engage in small scale commerce (though only within the country).[23]
  • Sweden: Compulsory Elementary school for both sexes.[24]
  • United States, New Hampshire: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1843
  • United States, Kentucky: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1844
  • United States, Maine: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Maine: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Massachusetts: Married Women granted separate economy.[25]
1845
  • Denmark: Married women, despite being minors, are given the right to make a will without the approval of their husbands.[26]
  • Sweden: Equal inheritance for sons and daughters (in the absence of a will).[27]
  • United States, New York: Married women granted patent rights.[4]
  • United States, Florida: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
1846
  • Sweden: Trade- and crafts works professions are opened to all unmarried women.[28]
  • United States, Alabama: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Kentucky: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Ohio: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Michigan: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1847
  • Belgium: Elementary school for both genders
  • Costa Rica: The first high school for girls, and the profession of teacher is open to women.[29]
1848
  • United States, State of New York: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[30]
  • United States, Pennsylvania: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Rhode Island: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
1849
  • India: Secondary education is made available by the foundation of the Bethune School.[31]
  • United States, Alabama: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
  • United States, Connecticut: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
  • United States, Missouri: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, South Carolina: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]

1850–1874[edit]

1850
  • France: Elementary education for both sexes, but girls are only allowed to be tutored by teachers from the church.[17]
  • Haiti: The first permanent school for girls.[32]
  • Iceland: Equal inheritance.[33]
  • United States, California: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[34]
  • United States, Wisconsin: Married Women's Property Act grant married women separate economy.[34]
  • United States, Oregon: Unmarried women are allowed to own land.[17]
1851
  • Guatemala: Full citizenship are granted economically independent women (rescinded in 1879).[35]
  • Canada, New Brunswick : Married women granted separate economy.[36]
1852
  • Nicaragua: Josefa Vega are granted dispensation to attend lectures at university, after which women are given the right to apply for permission to attend lectures at university (though not to an actual full university education).[37]
  • United States, New Jersey: Married Women granted separate economy.[25]
  • United States, Indiana: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Wisconsin: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1853
  • Colombia: Divorce is legalized (rescinded in 1856 and reintroduced in 1992).[21]
  • Egypt: The first Egyptian school for females is opened by the Copts minority.[38]
  • Serbia: The first secondary educational school for females is inaugurated (public schools for girls having opened in 1845–46).[39]
  • Sweden: The profession of teacher at public primary and elementary schools are opened to both sexes.[40]
1854
  • Norway: Equal inheritance.[17]
  • United States, Massachusetts: Married women granted separate economy.[34]
  • Chile: The first public elementary school for girls.[41]
1855
  • Ottoman Empire: Factory work are open to both sexes when the first women are employed at the textile factory at Bursa, at the same time allowing them to mix unveiled with men.[42]
  • United States, Iowa: University of Iowa becomes the first coeducational public or state university in the United States.[43]
  • United States, Michigan: Married women granted separate economy.[41]
1856
  • Denmark: Equal inheritance rights.[26]
  • Sweden: Women accepted as students at the Royal Academy of Music.[44]
  • United States, Connecticut: Married women granted patent rights.[4]
1857
  • Denmark: Legal majority for unmarried women.[17]
  • Denmark: Trades and crafts professions are opened to unmarried women.[45]
  • Great Britain: Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 makes divorce possible for both sexes.
  • Netherlands: Elementary education compulsory for both girls and boys.[46]
  • Spain: Elementary education compulsory for both girls and boys.[47]
  • United States, Maine: Married women granted the right to control their own earnings.[25]
  • United States, Oregon: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Oregon: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1858
  • Ottoman Empire: The first state school for girls is opened; several other schools for girls are opened during the following decades.[48]
  • Norway: Telegraph office professions open to women.[23]
  • Russia: gymnasiums for girls.[2]
  • Sweden: Legal majority for unmarried women (if applied for: automatic legal majority in 1863).[27]
1859
  • Canada West: Married women granted separate economy.[36]
  • Denmark: The post of teacher at public schools are opened to women.[45]
  • Russia: Women allowed to audit university lectures (retracted in 1863).[2]
  • Sweden: The post of college teacher and lower official at public institutions are open to women.[49]
  • United States, Kansas: Married Women's Property Act granted married women separate economy.[34]
1860
  • Norway: Women are allowed to teach in the rural elementary school system (in the city schools in 1869).[23]
  • New Zealand: Married women allowed to own property (extended in 1870).[17]
  • United States, New York: Married women granted the right to control their own earnings.[25]
  • United States, Maryland: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Maryland: Married women granted the right to control their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Maryland: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Massachusetts: Married women granted trade licenses.[4]
1861
  • France: Julie-Victoire Daubié becomes the first female student.
  • Iceland: Legal majority for unmarried women.[33]
  • India: Sati is banned in the entire India.[50][51]
  • Russia: The Scientific- and Medical Surgery Academy open laboratories for women (retracted in 1864).[2]
  • Sweden: The first public institution of higher academic learning for women, Högre lärarinneseminariet, is opened.
  • Sweden: The dentist profession is opened to women.[52]
  • United States, Illinois: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Ohio: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Illinois: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Ohio: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
1863
  • Denmark: Colleges open to women.[28]
  • Norway: Legal majority for unmarried women (at the same age as men in 1869).[27]
  • Serbia: The inauguration of the Women's High School in Belgrade, first high school open to women in Serbia (and the entire Balkans).[39]
  • Sweden: The Post- and telegraph professions are opened to women.[53]
1864
  • Belgium: The first official secondary education school open to females in Belgium.[54]
  • Bohemia: Taxpaying women and women in "learned profession" eligible to the legislative body.[55]
  • Finland: Legal majority for unmarried women.[27]
  • Haiti: Elementary schools for girls are founded.[32]
  • Serbia: The University of Belgrade is founded: females are theoretically allowed from the start, though the first two female students did not graduate until 1891.[56]
  • Sweden: Unmarried women are granted the same rights within trade and commerce as men.[14]
  • Sweden: Husbands are forbidden to abuse their wives.[57]
  • Sweden: The gymnastics profession is open to women,[53] and female students accepted at the Gymnastiska centralinstitutet.[44]
  • Sweden: Women, previously only accepted with dispensation, are accepted as students at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts.[58]
1865
  • Ireland: Married Women's Property (Ireland) Act 1865
  • Italy: Legal majority for unmarried women.[59]
  • Italy: Equal inheritance.[59]
  • Italy: A married woman is allowed to become the legal guardian of her children and their property if abandoned by her husband.[59]
  • Romania: The educational reform grant all Romanians access to education, which, at least formally, gave also females the right to attend school from elementary education to the university.[60]
  • US, Louisiana: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1866
  • Norway: Unmarried women are given the same rights as men within commerce.[23]
1867
  • Portugal: The Civil Code of 1867 secure legal majority and freedom from guardianship for unmarried, legally separated or widowed women, allows for civil marriage and gives married women the option to secure their right to separate economy by agreement prior to marriage.[61]
  • Switzerland: Zürich University formally open to women, though they had already been allowed to attend lectures a few years prior.[62]
  • United States, Alabama: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, New Hampshire: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
1868
  • Croatia: The first high school open to females.[63]
  • United States, North Carolina: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Arkansas: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Kansas: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Kansas: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Kansas: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, South Carolina: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
  • United States, Georgia: Married women allowed to own (but not control) property in their own name.[4]
1869
  • Austria-Hungary: The profession of public school teacher is open to women.[17]
  • Costa Rica: Elementary education compulsory for both girls and boys.[29]
  • Great Britain: Girton College, Cambridge.
  • Ottoman Empire: The law formally introduce compulsory elementary education for both boys and girls.[48]
  • Russia: University Courses for women are opened, which opens the profession of teacher, law assistant and similar lower academic professions for women (in 1876, the courses are no longer allowed to give exams, and in 1883, all outside of the capital is closed).[17]
  • Sweden: Women allowed to work in the railway office.[53]
  • United States, Minnesota: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
1870
  • Argentina: The 1870 Civil Code secure legal majority for unmarried women and widows, though it confirms married women as minors.[64]
  • Finland: Women allowed to study at the universities by dispensation (dispensation demand dropped in 1901).[65]
  • Great Britain: Married Women's Property Act 1870
  • India: Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870
  • Mexico: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Ottoman Empire: The Teachers College for Girls are opened in Constantinople to educate women to professional teachers for girls school; the profession of teacher becomes accessible for women and education accessible to girls.[48]
  • Spain: The Asociación para la Enseñanza de la Mujer is founded: promoting education for women, it establishes secondary schools and training colleges all over Spain, which makes secondary and higher education open to females for the first time.[67]
  • Sweden: Universities open to women (at the same terms as men 1873).[27] The first female student is Betty Pettersson.
  • United States, Georgia: Married women granted separate economy.[68]
  • United States, South Carolina: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, South Carolina: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Tennessee: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Iowa: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
1871
  • India: First training school for woman teachers.[31]
  • Japan: Women are allowed to study in the USA (though not yet in Japan itself).[69]
  • New Zealand: Universities open to women.[70]
  • United States, Mississippi: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Mississippi: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Mississippi: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Arizona: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Arizona: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1872
  • Austria-Hungary: Women allowed to work in the post- and telegraph office.[17]
  • Canada: Dominion Lands Act grant mothers without husbands homestead land.
  • Japan: Geisha and prostitutes are freed from guardianship and granted legal majority and the right to change profession.[71]
  • Japan: Compulsory elementary education for both girls and boys.[72]
  • Ottoman Empire: The first government primary school open to both genders.[73] Women's Teacher's Training School opened in Istanbul.[74]
  • Spain: María Elena Maseras is allowed to enlist as a university student with special dispensation: having been formally admitted to a class in 1875, she was finally allowed to graduate 1882, which created a Precedent allowing females to enroll at universities from this point on.[75]
  • Sweden: Women are granted unlimited right to choose marriage partner without the need of any permission from her family, and arranged marriages are thereby banned (women of the nobility, however, are not granted the same right until 1882).[76]
  • Switzerland: The universities of Bern and Geneva open to women (Lausanne follow in 1876 and Basel in 1890).[62]
  • United States, Pennsylvania: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, California: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Montana: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, California: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, California: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Wisconsin: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
1873
  • Egypt: The first public Egyptian primary school open to females: two years later, there are 32 primary schools for females in Egypt, three of whom also offered secondary education.[38]
  • Great Britain: Custody of Infants Act 1873; Mothers granted guardianship for children at divorce.
  • United States, Arkansas: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Kentucky: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, North Carolina: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Kentucky: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Arkansas: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Delaware: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Iowa: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Nevada: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Iowa: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Nevada: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Nevada: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States: The Comstock Law was a federal act passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1873, as the Act for the "Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use". The Act criminalized usage of the U.S. Postal Service to send any of the following items:[77]
  • erotica,
  • contraceptives,
  • abortifacients,
  • sex toys,
  • Personal letters alluding to any sexual content or information
  • or any information regarding the above items.

In places like Washington D.C., where the federal government had direct jurisdiction, the act also made it a misdemeanor, punishable by fine and imprisonment, to sell, give away, or have in possession any "obscene" publication.[77] Half of the states passed similar anti-obscenity statutes that also banned possession and sale of obscene materials, including contraceptives.[78]

The law was named after its chief proponent, Anthony Comstock. Due to his own personal enforcement of the law during its early days, Comstock received a commission from the postmaster general to serve as a special agent for the U.S. Postal Services.[77]

1874
  • France: First trade union open to women.
  • Iran: The first school for girls is founded by American missionaries (only non-Muslims attend until 1891).[79]
  • Japan: The profession of public school teacher is opened to women.[80]
  • Netherlands: Aletta Jacobs becomes the first woman allowed to study medicine.
  • Sweden: Married women granted control over their own income.[27]
  • United States, Massachusetts: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, New Jersey: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Rhode Island: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, New Jersey: Married women granted trade licenses.[4]
  • United States, Colorado: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Illinois: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Minnesota: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Montana: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Montana: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Colorado: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Colorado: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]

1875–1899[edit]

1875
  • Denmark: Universities open to women.[27]
  • India: First women admitted to college courses, although with special permission (at Madras Medical College).[31]
  • United States, Delaware: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
1876
  • Argentina: Girls are included in the national school system by the transference of the control of the private girls schools from the charitable Beneficent Society to the provincial government.[19]
  • Great Britain: Universities open to women.[81]
  • India: Women allowed to attend university exams at the Calcutta University.[31]
  • Italy: Universities open to women.[82]
  • Netherlands:Universities open to women.[82]
  • United States, New Hampshire: Married women granted trade licenses.[4]
  • United States, Wyoming: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Wyoming: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Wyoming: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1877
  • Chile: Universities open to women.[41][83]
  • Italy: Women can serve as witnesses to legal acts.[59]
  • Scotland: Married Women's Property (Scotland) Act 1877.
  • United States, Connecticut: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Connecticut: Married women granted trade licenses.[4]
  • United States, Dakota: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Dakota: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Dakota: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1878
  • Austria-Hungary: Women allowed to attend university lectures as guest auditors.[84]
  • Bulgaria: Elementary education for both sexes.[85]
  • Finland: Equal inheritance.[27]
  • Great Britain: Women can secure a separation on the grounds of cruelty, claim custody of their children and demand spousal and child support. Abused wives granted separation orders.[86]
  • Great Britain: Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
  • United States, Virginia: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
1879
  • Brazil: Universities open to women.[87]
  • France: Colleges and secondary education open to women.[17]
  • India: The first college open to women: Bethune College (the first female graduate in 1883).[31]
  • United States, Indiana: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Indiana: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
1880
  • Australia : Universities open to women.[88]
  • Belgium: The university of Brussels open to women.[82]
  • Canada: Universities open to women.[citation needed]
  • Denmark: Married women granted the right to control their own income.[89]
  • France: Universities open to women.[17]
  • France: Free public secondary education to women.[90]
  • France: Public teachers training schools open to women.[90]
  • United States, Oregon: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Oregon: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
1881
  • France: Women allowed to open a bank account in their own name.[17]
  • Scotland: Married Women's Property (Scotland) Act 1881
  • United States, Vermont: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Vermont: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Nebraska: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Nebraska: Married women granted trade license.[4]
  • United States, Nebraska: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, Florida: Married women allowed to own and manage property in their own name during the incapacity of their spouse.[4]
1882
  • Great Britain: Married Women's Property Act 1882
  • France: Compulsory elementary education for both genders.[91]
  • Norway: Women allowed to study at the university.[39]
  • Nicaragua: The first public secular education institution for women, Colegio de Senoritas, open.[92]
  • Poland: The Flying University provides academic education for women.
  • Serbia: Compulsory education for both sexes.[56]
1883
  • Belgium: Universities open to women.[82]
  • India: Bombay University open to women.[31]
  • Romania: Universities open to women.[93]
  • Victoria, Australia: Married women granted separate economy.[88]
1884
  • France: Equal divorce legalized for women and men.[94]
  • Switzerland: Legal majority for unmarried women (including widows).[41]
  • Norway: Universities open to women.[27]
  • Germany: Legal majority for unmarried women.[17]
  • Mexico: Legal majority for unmarried women and separate economy granted for married women.[95]
  • Ontario: Married women granted separate economy.[96]
  • Great Britain: Married Women's Property Act 1884
1886
  • Costa Rica: A public academic educational institution open to women.[29]
  • France: Married allowed to open a bank account without the consent of her husband.[94]
  • France: Women eligible to public education boards.[97]
  • Great Britain: Guardianship of Infants Act 1886
  • Great Britain: Josephine Butler puts a stop to the prostitution reglement.
  • Guatemala: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Korea: The first educational institution for women, Ewha Womans University
1887
  • Albania: The first Albanian language elementary school open to female pupils.[98]
  • Costa Rica: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Costa Rica: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Mexico: Universities open to women.[83]
  • United States, Idaho: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, Idaho: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1888
  • Costa Rica: Married women are allowed to be guardians and execute wills.[29]
  • Denmark: Fathers are forced to pay support to illegitimate children.[89]
  • Serbia: Universities open to women,[65] the first two women graduating in 1891.[56]
  • Spain: Women are allowed to private university degrees by dispensation (Universities fully open to women in 1910).[65]
  • Norway: Legal majority for married women.[33]
  • Montenegro: Legal majority for unmarried women.[63]
1889
  • Argentina: Cecilia Grierson become the first female in Argentina to earn a medical university degree.
  • Egypt: The first teacher training college for women.[73]
  • Palestine: The first school open to girls founded by missionaries.[73]
  • Sweden: Women eligible to boards of public authority such as public school boards, public hospital boards, inspectors, poor care boards and similar positions.[27]
  • United States, State of Washington: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, State of Washington: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, State of Washington: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1890
1891
  • Albania: The first school of higher education for women is opened.[99]
  • Germany: Women are allowed to attend university lectures, which makes it possible for individual professors to accept female students if they wish.[84]
  • Portugal: The first medical university degree is granted to a woman.[100]
  • Switzerland: Secondary schools open to women.[62]
  • Switzerland: Trade unions open to women.[46]
  • United States: Marie Owens hired as a police officer in Chicago.
1893
  • France: Legal majority for unmarried, divorced and separated women.[94]
  • Ottoman Empire: Women are permitted to attend medical lectures at Istanbul University.[73]
  • Great Britain: Married Women's Property Act 1893 grants married women control of property acquired during marriage.
1894
  • Norway: Married women given right to engage in commerce.[23]
  • Poland: Kraków University open to women.[101]
  • United States, Louisiana: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1895
  • Austria-Hungary : Universities open to women.[17]
  • Egypt: A public school system for girls is organized.[73]
  • France: Women eligible as administrators of public charity boards.[90]
  • Upper Canada: Women allowed to work as barristers.[citation needed]
  • Russia: A Women's medical university are opened, which opens the profession of physician for women.[17]
  • United States, South Carolina: Separate economy allowed for married women.
  • United States, Utah: Married women granted separate economy.[4]
  • United States, State of Washington: Married women granted control over their earnings.[4]
  • United States, State of Washington: Married women granted trade license.[4]
1896
  • Norway: Women are admitted at all secondary educational schools of the state.[23]
  • United States: The profession of lawyer opened to both sexes – already in 1869, however, the first American state allowed women to practice law.
1897
  • France: Women (regardless of marital status) eligible as witnesses in civil action.[94]
1898
  • France: Women eligible as administrators of commercial boards and mutual aid societies.[90]
  • Haiti: The Medical University accept female students in obstetrics.[32]
  • Serbia: Co-education, banned since the 1850s, is re-introduced, equalizing the schooling of males and females.[56]
1899
  • Denmark: Legal majority for married women.[89]
  • Iceland: Legal majority for married women.[17]

20th century[edit]

1900–1939[edit]

1900
  • Belgium: Legal majority for unmarried women.[102]
  • Egypt: A school for female teachers is founded in Cairo.[74]
  • France: Women allowed to practice law.[90]
  • Korea: The post office profession is open to women and thereby open the public work market for women.[103]
  • Tunisia: The first public elementary school for girls.[74]
  • Japan: The first Women's University.[104]
  • Baden, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
  • Sri Lanka: Secondary education open to females.[106]
  • Sweden: Maternity leave for female industrial workers.[28]
1901
  • Bulgaria: Universities open to women.[85]
  • China: Girls are included in the education system.[54]
  • Cuba: Universities open to women.[83]
  • Denmark: Maternity leave for all women.[89]
  • Sweden: Women are given four weeks maternity leave.[57]
1902
1903
  • Bavaria, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
  • Sweden: Public medical offices open to women.[108]
1904
  • Mexico: Divorce is legalized.
  • Nicaragua: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Nicaragua: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Württemberg, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
1905
  • Argentina: University preparatory secondary education open to females.[19]
  • Iceland: Educational institutions open to women.[17]
  • Russia: Universities open to women.[17]
  • Serbia: Female university students are fully integrated in to the university system.[56]
1906
  • Finland: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Honduras: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Honduras: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Honduras: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Korea: The profession of nurse is allowed for women.[103]
  • Nicaragua: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Saxony, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
1907
  • France: Married women given control of their income.[109]
  • France: Women allowed guardianship of children.[90]
  • Great Britain: Matrimonial Causes Act 1907
  • Iran: Compulsory primary education for females.[79]
  • Iran: The first Iranian school for girls is established by Tuba Azmudeh, followed by others in the following years.[79]
  • Japan: Tohoku University, the first (private) coeducational university.
  • Norway: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Sudan: The first school open to Muslim girls.[73]
  • Uruguay: Divorce is legalized.[110]
  • United States: Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 provided for loss of citizenship by American women who married aliens.[111] 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.[112] The aim of these provisions was to prevent cases of multiple nationality among women.[113]
1908
  • Belgium: Women may act as legal witnesses in court.[17]
  • Denmark: Juridical professions of lower rank open to women.[45]
  • Denmark: Unmarried women are made legal guardian of their children.[89]
  • Korea: Secondary education for females through the foundation of the Capital School for Girl's Higher Education.[54]
  • 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.[48]
  • Peru: Universities open to women.[114]
  • Prussia, Alsace-Lorraine and Hesse, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
  • Sweden: First women are employed in the Swedish Police Authority.[115]
1909
  • France: Married women are given the legal right to be consulted by husband's before he dispose of family property, and to press charges against the economic mismanagement of the husband.[94]
  • Sweden: Women granted eligibility to municipal councils.[116]
  • 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.[108]
  • Mecklenburg, Germany: Universities open to women.[105]
1910
  • Ecuador: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Spain: Universities fully open to women.[75]
1911
  • Luxembourg: A new educational law gives women access to higher education, and two secondary education schools open to females.[117]
  • Portugal: Civil offices open to women.[100]
  • Portugal: Legal majority for married women[100] (rescinded in 1933).[118]
  • Portugal: Divorce legalized.[118]
  • Taiwan: In Taiwan from 1911 to 1915 foot binding was gradually made illegal.[119]
1912
1913
  • Japan: Public universities open to women.[80]
1914
  • Russia: Married women allowed their own internal passport.[2]
1915
  • Ottoman Empire: Women are permitted to unveil during office hours.[73]
1917
  • Cuba: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Cuba: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Greece: The first public secondary educational school for girls open.[39]
  • Netherlands: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Mexico: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Mexico: Divorce legalized.[66]
  • Uruguay: University education open to women.[83]
1918
  • New South Wales, Australia: The Women's Legal Status Act 1918 formally legalize all professions for females.[54]
  • Czechoslovakia: Females are given the same rights as males in the new constitution and divorce is legalized for both sexes.[54]
  • Cuba: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Iran: Public schools for girls are opened in order to enforce the law of compulsory education for girls in practice.[79]
  • Nicaragua: The first female obtains a university degree.[92]
  • Soviet Russia: The first Soviet Constitution explicitly declares the equal rights of men and women.
  • Thailand: Universities open to women.[121]
1919
  • 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.[59]
  • Italy: Public offices on lower levels are opened to women.[59]
  • Great Britain: The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919.
1920
  • China: The first female students are accepted in the Peking University, soon followed by universities all over China.[122]
  • Canada: Women gain the right to stand for election, with some restrictions/conditions.
  • Haiti: The apothecary profession open to women.[32]
  • Korea: The profession of telephone operator, as well as several other professions, such as store clerks, are open to women.[103]
  • Nepal: Sati is banned.[54]
  • Portugal: Secondary school open to women.[100]
  • Sweden: Legal majority for married women and equal marriage rights.[27]
1921
  • 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.[102]
  • Denmark: Women are given access to all official professions and positions in society, with some excpetions.[26]
  • Thailand: Compulsory elementary education for both girls and boys.[121]
1922
  • Belgium: The profession of lawyer is open to women.[17]
  • Iraq: The first woman university student in Iraq.[38]
  • Japan: Women are allowed to be present and political meetings and form political organizations.[123]
  • Peru: Women are allowed to serve in public welfare boards.[83]
  • Syria: Muslim women appear unveiled for the first time in public.[124]
  • 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.[125] However, the Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to an "alien eligible to naturalization."[126] At the time of the law's passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for US citizenship.[127][128] 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.
1923
  • Egypt: Veiling is discarded: unveiling is supported by a fatwa in 1937.[124]
  • Egypt: Compulsory education for both sexes.[73]
  • Sweden: The Law of Access formally grants women the right to all professions and positions in society, except for certain priest- and military positions.[129]
1924
  • Argentina: Women are secured the right to maternity leave and daycare and employers are banned from firing women because of pregnancy.[64]
  • Denmark: The first ever female minister in Western Europe is appointed, when Nina Bang is appointed Minister of Education by Thorvald Stauning.
1925
1926
  • Argentina: Married women granted separate economy[66] legal majority and the right to employment.[19]
  • Lebanon: The University of Beirut is open to women.[73]
  • Romania: Married women allowed to manage their own income.[61]
  • Turkey: The Civil Code of 1926 secures equal rights to women in inheritance, marriage (thereby abolishing polygamy and harems) and divorce.[130][131]
1927
  • Afghanistan: The monarch introduces compulsory education for the daughters of officials.[38]
  • Luxembourg: Women are explicitly approved to function as a witness in court.[132]
  • Mexico: Legal majority for married women.[21]
1928
  • Afghanistan: The first women are sent abroad to study (women banned from studying abroad in 1929).[38] Compulsory veiling, polygamy and forced concubinage is abolished (rescinded in 1929).[38]
  • Albania: The Civil Code of 1928 bans forced marriages and gives married women the right to divorce and equal inheritance.[99]
  • Bahrain: The first public primary school for girls.[73]
  • Egypt: The first Women students is admitted to Cairo University.[73]
  • Mexico: Equal marriage law.[66]
  • Southern Rhodesia: the marital power was abolished in 1928 by the Married Persons' Property Act, which also abolished community of property.[133]
1929

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.

1930
  • Peru: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Turkey: Equal right to university education for both men and women.[73]
1931
  • 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.[41]
  • Spain: Legal majority for married women (rescinded in 1939).[135]
  • Spain: Equal right to profession (rescinded in 1939).[135]
  • Spain: Divorce is legalized (rescinded in 1939).[135]
  • United States: An amendment to the Cable Act allowed females to retain their citizenship even if they married an Asian.[136]
1932
  • Bolivia: Divorce is legalized.[21]
  • Colombia: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Colombia: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Romania: Married women granted legal majority.[60]
1933
  • Colombia: Universities open to women.[137]
  • Luxembourg: A ban against firing women teachers after marriage.[117]
1934
  • Brazil: The constitution of 1934 grants all women quality before the law, maternity leave, access to all public professions.[83]
  • Haiti: The physician profession open to women.[32]
  • 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.[79]
  • Turkey: Women gain the right to stand for election.
1935
  • Iran: Women are admitted to Tehran University.[138] 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.[79]
  • Luxembourg: The profession of nurse and social worker, though de facto already in existence, are formally legalized and regulated for women.[117]
  • Thailand: Polygamy is banned and women are entitled to an equal share of common property after divorce.[139]
1936
  • Colombia: The national University open to women.[140]
  • Iran: Reza Shah Pahlavi set the mandatory unveiling of women—a highly controversial policy which nonetheless was significant for the desegregation of women.[138] In order to enforce the abolition of gender segregation, male civil servants were ordered to bring their wives to official ceremonies.[79]
  • Peru: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • 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.[141]
  • United States: The Cable Act was repealed.
1937
1938
1939
  • Sweden: Ban against firing a woman for marrying or having children.[57]

1940–1969[edit]

1942
  • Russia: Women formally accepted into the military.[2]
  • Venezuela: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Venezuela: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
1943
  • Iran: Compulsory primary education for both males and females.[73]
1945
  • 'British Guiana'-Guyana: Women gain the right to stand for election.
1946
  • Burma: Myanmar: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Uruguay: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Uruguay: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Sudan: Sudan was the first country to outlaw FGM in 1946, under the British. However, currently there is no national law forbidding FGM there.
1947
  • Sweden: Equal salary for both sexes.[57]
1948
  • Sweden: Maternity pay.[57]
  • 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.
1949
  • Ecuador: Legal majority for married women.[66]
1950
  • China: Statute grants women equal right to property, to seek divorce and to inheritance.
1951
  • Bahrain: First secondary education school open to females.[73]
1953
  • Afghanistan: The age of marriage for women are raised to sixteen, dowries are made the property of the wife, females are appointed judges in family courts and numerous professions, such as flight attendants, police officers, telephone operators and receptionists, are opened to women.[38]
  • Mexico: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • South Africa: The Matrimonial Affairs Act in 1953, restricts but did not abolish the marital power.[142]
1955
  • Qatar: First public school for girls.[73]
1957
  • 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).
1958
  • Sweden: Women allowed to become priests.[27]
1959
  • 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.[38]
  • 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.[38]
1960
  • Afghanistan: The University of Kabul open to women.[38]
  • Canada: Women gain the right to stand for election, with no restrictions/conditions.
1961
  • El Salvador: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Kuwait: Mandatory veiling is abolished for female public servants.[73]
  • India: The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 in Indian civil law
  • 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.[143] 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.
1962
  • Brazil: Legal majority for married women.[144]
  • Kuwait: The right to education and employment are secured to all citizens regardless of gender.[73]
1963
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 [...][147] 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.
1964
  • Afghanistan: The 1964 constitution state the equal right of women to education, employment and rights within marriage.[38]
  • 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[148]). 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.[149] 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,[150] 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.
1965
  • France: Married women obtained the right to work without their husbands' consent.[151]
  • Kuwait: Compulsory education for both boys and girls.[73]
  • United States: Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965),[152] 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".[153] 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.[154]
1966
1967
1968
1969
  • Portugal: Legal majority for married women.[118]
  • 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).[158][159]

1970–1999[edit]

1970
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Women gain the right to stand for election.
  • Ecuador: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • 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).[160]
  • 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.[161] The women won, and Newsweek agreed to allow women to be reporters.[161] 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.[162]
  • 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.[163] 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.[164]
  • 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.[165][166] 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.[167] 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.[167]
  • 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.
1971
  • Egypt: The new constitution confirms equality before the law and women's right to inheritance, property, education, employment and divorce.[38]
  • Switzerland: Women allowed to stand for election at federal level.[168]
  • United States: Barring women from practicing law was prohibited in the U.S. in 1971.[169]
  • 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.[170]
1972
  • Bolivia: Married women granted separate economy.[66]
  • Bolivia: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • Luxembourg: Legal majority for married women.[54]
  • 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.

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.

1973
1974
  • 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);[176] 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.[177]

  • 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.[178][179]
1975
1976
1977
1978
  • 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.[184]
  • Afghanistan: Mandatory literacy and education of all females.[38]
  • Dominican Republic: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[145]
  • '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.[190]
  • 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.[191]
1978

The Act covers discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." It only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.[193][194] 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.[195]

  • 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.[196]
1979
  • Chile: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • West Germany: reform to parental rights law giving equal legal rights to the mother and the father, abolishing the legal authority of the father.[197]
  • 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.[198] 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."[198][199]
  • 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.[200]

1980
1981
  • Spain: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[145]
  • 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.[206][207]
  • 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.[208]
  • 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.
1982
1983
1984
  • 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.[219][220]
  • Peru: Legal majority for married women.[66]
  • South Africa: The Matrimonial Property Act of 1984 abolished it 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.[145]
  • Australia: Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • United States: The U.S. Supreme Court's 1984 ruling Grove City College v. Bell[221] held that Title IX applied only to those programs receiving direct federal aid.[222] 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.[221] 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.[223]
  • 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[224] 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.
1985
  • France: A new reform in 1985 abolishes the stipulation that the father has the sole power to administer the children's property.[160]
  • 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.
1986
1987
  • Argentina: divorce is legalized; the new law also provides for gender equality between the wife and husband.[225]
  • Paraguay: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[145]
  • 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.
1988
  • 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.[226][227][228]
  • 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).[145]
  • Rwanda: Abolition of the requirement that married women must have their husbands' permission to initiate judicial proceedings.[145]
  • 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.[229]
  • 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.
1989
1990
  • 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.
1991
1992
  • 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.[234] 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.
  • 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."[235] 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.[236]

1993
  • South Africa: Marital power is repealed for all civil marriages, whenever they were contracted.[142] 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.[142]
  • 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.[237]

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."[238]

  • 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: 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.[239] 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.[240]
1994
1995
1996
  • 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.[145]
  • 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.[246]
  • 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.[247]
  • 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.[248]
1997
  • Australia: By 1997, all Australian states and territories had made FGM a criminal offence.
  • Germany: marital rape is criminalized.[249]
  • United States: The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act is enacted.[250]
  • United States: Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 519 U.S. 357 (1997), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court related to legal protection of access to abortion. It ruled in an 8–1 decision that "floating buffer zones" preventing protesters approaching people entering or leaving abortion clinics were unconstitutional, though "fixed buffer zones" around the clinics themselves remained constitutional. The Court's upholding the fixed buffer was the most important aspect of the ruling, because it was a common feature of injunctions nationwide.[251]
1998
  • South Africa: Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 - women in customary marriages no longer legal minors.[145]
  • 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.
  • 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.
1999
  • United States: A United States House of Representatives appropriations bill (HR 2490) that contained an amendment specifically permitting breastfeeding[252] 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."[253]
  • Senegal: A law that was passed in January 1999 makes FGM illegal in Senegal.[254]

21st century[edit]

2000
2001
  • 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 reinstated by President George W. Bush, who implemented it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006

Darlene Jespersen was a 20-year employee at Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nevada. In 2000, Harrah's advanced a "Personal Best" policy, which created strict standards for employee appearance and grooming, which included a requirement that women wear substantial amounts of makeup. Jespersen was fired for non-compliance with its policy. Jespersen argued the makeup requirement was contrary to her self-image, and that the requirement violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[286][287]

In 2001, Jespersen filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Nevada, which found against her claim. The district court opined that the policy imposed "equal burdens" on both sexes and that the policy did not discriminate based on immutable characteristics of her sex. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, but on rehearing en banc, reversed part of its decision. The full panel concluded, in contrast to the previous rulings, that such grooming requirements could be challenged as sex stereotyping in some cases, even in view of the decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. However, the panel found that Jespersen had not provided evidence that the policy had been motivated by stereotyping, and affirmed the district court's finding for Harrah's.[288][289][290]

  • United Kingdom: The Equality Act 2006 (c 3) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom covering the United Kingdom. The 2006 Act is a precursor to the Equality Act 2010, which combines all of the equality enactments within Great Britain and provide comparable protections across all equality strands. Those explicitly mentioned by the Equality Act 2006 include age; disability; gender; proposed, commenced or completed gender reassignment; race; religion or belief and sexual orientation.

The changes it made were,

  • creating the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) (merging the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission)
  • outlawing of discrimination on goods and services on the grounds of religion and belief (subject to certain exemptions)
  • allowing the Government to introduce regulations outlawing discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in goods and services, which led to the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2006
  • creating a public duty to promote equality on the ground of gender (The Equality Act 2006, section 84, inserting section 76A of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, now found in section 1 of the Equality Act 2010).
  • Canada: Stopps v Just Ladies Fitness (Metrotown) Ltd was a discrimination by sex case heard before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal that was significant in Canadian law because it found that a women-only admission policy of a public gym was not discrimination.
  • Italy: After a few cases of infibulation practiced by complaisant medical practitioners within the African immigrant community came to public knowledge through media coverage, the Law n°7/2006 was passed on 1/9/2006, becoming effective on 1/28/2006, concerning "Measures of prevention and prohibition of any female genital mutilation practice"; the Act is also known as the Legge Consolo ("Consolo Act") named after its primary promoter, Senator Giuseppe Consolo. Article 6 of the law integrates the Italian Penal Code with Articles 583-Bis and 583-Ter, punishing any practice of female genital mutilation "not justifiable under therapeutical or medical needs" with imprisonment ranging from 4 to 12 years (3 to 7 years for any mutilation other than, or less severe than, clitoridectomy, excision or infibulation). Penalty can be reduced up to 23 if the harm caused is of modest entity (i.e. if partially or completely unsuccessful), but may also be elevated up to 13 if the victim is a minor or if the offense has been committed for profit. An Italian citizen or a foreign citizen legally resident in Italy can be punished under this law even if the offense is committed abroad; the law will as well afflict any individual of any citizenship in Italy, even illegally or provisionally. The law also mandates any medical practitioner found guilty under those provisions to have his/her medical license revoked for a minimum of six up to a maximum of ten years.[291]
2007
  • Costa Rica: Law on Criminal Sanctions for Violence Against Women (Ley de Penalización de la Violencia Contra las Mujeres).[292]
  • New Zealand: Human Rights (Women in Armed Forces) Amendment Act 2007
  • Egypt: FGM banned.[293]
  • Venezuela: enacts Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence (Ley Organica Sobre el Derecho de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia).[294]
  • England and Wales and Northern Ireland: The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 (applicable in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland) was passed, which enables the victims of forced marriage to apply for court orders for their protection.
  • Egypt: The June 2007 Ministry ban on FGM eliminated a loophole that allowed girls to undergo the procedure for health reasons.[295]
  • Eritrea: Eritrea outlawed all forms of female genital mutilation with Proclamation 158/2007 in March 2007.[296][297]
  • United States: Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007), is a United States Supreme Court case that upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.[298]
  • United States: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), is an employment discrimination decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, stating that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more. Justice Alito held for the five-justice majority that each paycheck received did not constitute a discrete discriminatory act, even if affected by a prior decision outside the time limit. Ledbetter's claim of the "paycheck accrual rule" was rejected.[299] The decision did not prevent plaintiffs from suing under other laws, like the Equal Pay Act, which has a three-year deadline for most sex discrimination claims,[300] or 42 U.S.C. 1981, which has a four-year deadline for suing over race discrimination.[301]
2008
  • International: In 2008, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1820, which noted that "rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide".[302]
  • Guatemala: enacts Law against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women (Ley contra el Femicidio y otras Formas de Violencia Contra la Mujer).[303]
  • Colombia: enacts Law 1257 of 2008 for establishing rules of awareness, prevention and punishment of all forms of violence and discrimination against women (Ley 1257 de 2008, por la cual se dictan normas de sensibilización, prevención y sanción de formas de violenci a y discriminación contra las mujeres).[304]
  • Saudi Arabia: In 2008, women were allowed to enter hotels and furnished apartments without their mahram if they had their national identification cards.[305]
2009


The bill also:

  • Removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity, like voting or going to school;
  • Gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
  • Provided $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
  • Requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes based on gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups were already tracked).[314][315]
2010
  • United States: Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and required employers to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to breastfeed her child if it is less than one year old.[316] The employee must be allowed to breastfeed in a private place, other than a bathroom. The employer is not required to pay the employee during the break time.[316] Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply with the law if doing so would impose an undue hardship to the employer based on its size, finances, nature, or structure of its business.[317]
  • United States: Sex discrimination was outlawed in health insurance.[318]
  • United Kingdom: The Equality Act 2010[319] is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and has the same goals as the four major EU Equal Treatment Directives, whose provisions it mirrors and implements.[320]

The primary purpose of the Act is to codify the complicated and numerous array of Acts and Regulations, which formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in Great Britain. This was, primarily, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and three major statutory instruments protecting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age. It requires equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. In the case of gender, there are special protections for pregnant women. The Act does not guarantee transsexuals' access to gender-specific services where restrictions are "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".[321] In the case of disability, employers and service providers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces to overcome barriers experienced by disabled people. In this regard, the Equality Act 2010 did not change the law. Under s.217, with limited exceptions the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

2011
  • El Salvador: enacts Law for a Life Free of Violence against Women (Ley Especial Integral para una Vida Libre de Violencia para las Mujeres).[326]
  • Afghanistan: In 2010 and 2011, the Afghan Supreme Court issued instructions to courts to charge women with "running away" as a crime. This makes it nearly impossible for women to escape forced marriages.
  • Scotland: The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 gives courts the power to issue protection orders.
  • United States: Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 564 U.S. ___ (2011), was a United States Supreme Court case. The case was an appeal from the Ninth Circuit's decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in which the Supreme Court, by a 5–4 decision, reversed the district court's decision to certify a class action lawsuit in which the plaintiff class included 1.6 million women who currently work or have worked for Wal-Mart stores, including the lead plaintiff, Betty Dukes. Dukes, a current Wal-Mart employee, and others alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart stores.[327]

The Court agreed to hear argument on whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 23(b)(2), which provides for class-actions if the defendant's actions make injunctive relief appropriate, can be used to file a class action that demands monetary damages. The Court also asked the parties to argue whether the class meets the traditional requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation.[328]

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the class should not be certified in its current form but was only 5–4 on the reason for that and whether the class could continue in a different form.

  • Guinea-Bissau: A law banning the practice of FGM nationwide was made in 2011.[329]
  • Iraqi Kurdistan: A 2011 Kurdish law criminalized FGM practice in Iraqi Kurdistan.
2012
  • Ireland: the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012,[330] bans FGM.
  • Nicaragua: enacts Law no 779- Integral Law against Violence against Women (Ley Integral contra la Violencia hacia la Mujer).[331]
  • The Special Court for Sierra Leone Trial Chamber in the Charles Taylor decision found that the term 'forced marriage' should be avoided and rather described the practice in war as 'conjugal slavery' (2012).[332]
  • United States: Planned Parenthood v. Rounds (686 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 2012) (en banc)) was a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that upheld a provision of a South Dakota law that requires a doctor to inform a patient, prior to providing an abortion, that one of the "known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors" is an "increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide."
  • United States: A provision of the Provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effective August 1, 2012, states that all new health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. Women's Preventive Services – including: well-woman visits; gestational diabetes screening; human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women age 30 and older; sexually transmitted infection counseling; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling; FDA-approved contraceptive methods and contraceptive counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling; and domestic violence screening and counseling – will be covered without cost sharing.[333] The requirement to cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods is also known as the contraceptive mandate.[334][335]
  • Botswana: Mmusi and Others v Ramantele and Another is a 2012 case of the High Court of Botswana in which three sisters disputed their nephew's right to inherit the family home under customary inheritance laws that favored male descendants.[336][337] The court ruled that these laws were unconstitutional, asserting for the first time the right of Batswana women to inherit property.[337]
2013
  • Switzerland: equality between husband and wife with regard to the choice of family name and citizenship law.[338]
  • Panama: enacts Law 82 - Typifying Femicide and Violence Against Women (Ley 82 - Tipifica el Femicidio y la Violencia contra las Mujeres).[339]
  • Swaziland: marital power is restricted, but not abolished: Sihlongonyane v Sihlongonyane (470/2013) [2013] SZHC 144 (18 July 2013).[340]
  • Ivory Coast: legal reforms provide for gender equality in marriage.[145]
  • Bolivia: enacts Law 348 - Integral law guaranteeing women a Life Free of Violence (Ley 348 - Ley Integral para Garantizar a las Mujeres una Vida Libre de Violencia).[341]
  • United States: enacts the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, which prohibits knowingly transporting a girl out of the United States for the purpose of undergoing FGM.[342]
  • Denmark: reforms its legislation on sexual offenses,[343][344][345] after having been harshly criticized by Amnesty International for lack of adequate laws in this area.[346][347]
  • International: The first United Nations Human Rights Council resolution against child, early, and forced marriages was adopted; the resolution recognizes child, early, and forced marriage as involving violations of human rights which "prevents individuals from living their lives free from all forms of violence and that has adverse consequences on the enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to education, [and] the right to the highest attainable standard of health including sexual and reproductive health," and also states that "the elimination of child, early and forced marriage should be considered in the discussion of the post-2015 development agenda."[348][349][350]
  • International: The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2122, which supported abortion rights for girls and women raped in wars, "noting the need for access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including regarding pregnancies resulting from rape, without discrimination."[351] United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had recommended to the U.N. Security Council earlier in 2013 (in September) that girls and women raped in war should have access to "services for safe termination of pregnancies resulting from rape, without discrimination and in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law." In March 2013 Ban Ki-moon had also recommended to the Council that women raped in war have access to abortion services.[351]
  • Turkey: Turkey's parliament ended a ban on women lawmakers wearing trousers in its assembly.[352]
  • France: An old bylaw requiring women in Paris, France to ask permission from city authorities before "dressing as men", including wearing trousers (with exceptions for those "holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse") was declared officially revoked by France's Women's Rights Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.[353] The bylaw was originally intended to prevent women from wearing the pantalons fashionable with Parisian rebels in the French Revolution.[353]
  • Saudi Arabia: Saudi women were first allowed to ride bicycles, although only around parks and other "recreational areas".[354] They also had to be dressed in full body coverings and be accompanied by a male relative.[354]
  • Saudi Arabia: The Saudi government sanctioned sports for girls in private schools for the first time.[355]
2014

For such companies, the Court's majority directly struck down the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees, by a 5–4 vote.[365] The court said that the mandate was not the least restrictive way to ensure access to contraceptive care, noting that a less restrictive alternative was being provided for religious non-profits, until the Court issued an injunction 3 days later, effectively ending said alternative, replacing it with a government-sponsored alternative for any female employees of closely held corporations that do not wish to provide birth control.[366]

  • Morocco: Article 475 was the Moroccan law that stated a rapist may be acquitted of charges if he marries his victim.[367] Article 475 was repealed in January 2014.[368]
2015
  • Gambia: In 2015, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh banned FGM.[369]
  • Brazil: enacts law against femicide.[370]
  • Nicaragua: new Family Code which provides for gender equality comes into force,[371] replacing the old family law which gave the husband authority.[145][372]
  • Nigeria: bans FGM.[373][374]
  • Northern Ireland: The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015[375] criminalizes forced marriage (section 16 - Offence of forced marriage).[376]
  • United Kingdom: The first conviction for forced marriage in the United Kingdom occurred in June 2015, with the convicted being a man from Cardiff.[377]
  • Canada: In 2015, the Canadian Parliament enacted 2 new criminal offences to address the issue of forced marriage.[378] Forcing a person to marry against their will is now a criminal offence under the Criminal Code,[379] as is assisting or aiding a child marriage, where one of the participants is under age 16.[380]
  • United States: The Obama administration issued a new rule stating that a closely held for-profit company that objects to covering contraception in its health plan can write a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services stating its objection, and that the Department will then notify a third-party insurer of the company's objection, and the insurer will provide birth control coverage to the company's female employees at no additional cost to the company.[381]
  • United States: Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC and DOES 1-20 was a lawsuit filed in 2012 in San Francisco County Superior Court under the law of California by executive Ellen Pao for gender discrimination against her employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Overlapping with a number of condemning studies on the representation of women in venture capital, the case was followed closely by reporters, advocacy groups and Silicon Valley executives.[382] Given the tendency for similar cases to reach settlements out of court, coverage of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins described it as a landmark trial once it began in February 2015.[383][384] On March 27, 2015 the jury found in favor of Kleiner Perkins on all counts.
  • United States: A policy update in 2015 required all Indian Health Services-run pharmacies, clinics, and emergency departments to have Plan B One-Step in stock, to distribute it to any woman (or her representative) who asked for it without a prescription, age verification, registration or any other requirement, to provide orientation training to all staff regarding the medication, to provide unbiased and medically accurate information about emergency contraception, and to make someone available at all times to distribute the pill in case the primary staffer objected to providing it on religious or moral grounds.[385]
  • United States: In the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the Court held that Congress specifically intended to include disparate impact claims in the Fair Housing Act, but that such claims require a plaintiff to prove it is the defendant's policies that cause a disparity.[386] The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on sex.[387]
2016
  • Algeria: An Algerian law came into effect punishing violence against women and sexual harassment.[388]
  • Australia: Hizb ut-Tahrir was ordered to stop forcibly segregating men and women at its public events after a NSW tribunal found the practice constituted sexual discrimination.[389]
  • International: In 2016 the International Criminal Court convicted someone of sexual violence for the first time; specifically, they added rape to a war crimes conviction of Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.[390]
  • Saudi Arabia: According to a directorate issued by the justice minister, Walid al-Samaani, clerics who register marriage contracts would have to hand a copy to the bride "to ensure her awareness of her rights and the terms of the contract".[391]
  • United States: Zubik v. Burwell was a case before the United States Supreme Court on whether religious institutions other than churches should be exempt from the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires non-church employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees. Churches are already exempt under those regulations.[392] On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam ruling in Zubik v. Burwell that vacated the decisions of the Circuit Courts of Appeals and remanded the case "to the respective United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits" for reconsideration in light of the "positions asserted by the parties in their supplemental briefs".[393] Because the Petitioners agreed that "their religious exercise is not infringed where they 'need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception'", the Court held that the parties should be given an opportunity to clarify and refine how this approach would work in practice and to "resolve any outstanding issues".[394] The Supreme Court expressed "no view on the merits of the cases."[395] In a concurring opinion, Justice Sotomeyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg noted that in earlier cases "some lower courts have ignored those instructions" and cautioned lower courts not to read any signals in the Supreme Court's actions in this case.[396]
  • United States: Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that reckless misdemeanor domestic violence convictions trigger gun control prohibitions on gun ownership.[397][398][399]
  • United States: Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), was a United States Supreme Court case decided on June 27, 2016, when the Court ruled 5-3 that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion. It has been called the most significant abortion rights case before the Supreme Court since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.[400]
  • Germany: Germany's parliament passed a new law saying that it is rape to have sex with a person who says "No" to the sex. Under the previous law, sex was not considered rape unless the victim fought back.[401] The new law also classifies groping as a sex crime, makes it easier to deport migrants who commit sex offences, and makes it easier to prosecute assaults committed by a large group.[401]
  • Tanzania: The Tanzanian High Court — in a case filed by the Msichana Initiative, a lobbying group that advocates for girls' right to education — ruled in favor of protecting girls from the harms of early marriage.[402][403]
  • Gambia: During a feast ending the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced that child and forced marriages were banned.[403][404]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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