Women in Portugal

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Women in Portugal
Viana do Castelo, Portugal (4922364383).jpg
Two women from Portugal in traditional garb, 2010
Gender Inequality Index[2]
Value0.116 (2013)
Rank21st out of 152
Maternal mortality (per 100,000)8 (2010)
Women in parliament28.7% (2013)
Females over 25 with secondary education47.7% (2012)
Women in labour force61.1%(employment rate OECD definition, 2015)[1]
Global Gender Gap Index[3]
Value0.732 (2018)
Rank37th out of 149

Women in Portugal received full legal equality with Portuguese men as mandated by Portugal's constitution of 1976, which in turn resulted from the Revolution of 1974. Because of this, Portuguese women received the right to vote and full equality in marriage. By the early part of the 1990s, many women of Portugal became professionals, including being medical doctors and lawyers, a leap from many being merely office employees and factory workers.[4]

First Portuguese Republic[edit]

The women's movement is considered to have started with the establishment of the Conselho Nacional das Mulheres Portuguesas, which was founded in 1914 during the First Portuguese Republic.

Estado Novo regime (1933-1974)[edit]

During the Estado Novo, a Fascist authoritarian political regime which was in place in Portugal from 1933 to 1974, women's rights were restricted. The Concordat of 1940 between the government and the Roman Catholic Church meant that women's role was legally and socially subservient to men.[5]

Family life[edit]

As a country where the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, Portugal has traditionally been conservative with regards to family life. Divorce was legalized in 1975. Adultery was decriminalized in 1982.[6] Divorce laws were overhauled in October 2008, when a new divorce law liberalized the process (see Divorce law in Portugal). In the 21st century, family dynamics have become more liberal, with cohabitation growing in popularity, and the link between fertility and marriage decreasing. In 2017, 54.9% of births were to unmarried women.[7] Like most Western countries, Portugal has to deal with low fertility levels: the country has experienced a sub-replacement fertility rate since the 1980s.[8]

The age at first marriage in 2012 was 29.9 years for women and 31.4 years for men.[9] Cohabitants have rights under laws dealing with de facto unions in Portugal.


Abortion laws in Portugal were liberalized on April 10, 2007, after the 2007 Portuguese abortion referendum. Abortion can be performed on-demand during the first ten weeks of pregnancy, and at later stages only for specific reasons (rape, risk of birth defects, risk to woman's health). However, obtaining a legal abortion is often difficult in practice, because many doctors refuse to perform abortions (which they are allowed to do under a conscientious objection clause) as Portugal remains a country where the Catholic tradition has a significant influence.[10]


The maternal mortality rate in Portugal is 8.00 deaths/100,000 live births (as of 2010). This is low by global standards, but is still higher than many other Western countries.[11] Portugal's HIV/AIDS rate is, at 0.6% of adults (aged 15–49), one of the highest in Europe.[12] Since 2001, immigrants in Portugal are entitled to free health care, including free care during pregnancy and postnatal period, as well as use of family planning facilities, regardless of their legal immigration status - this policy is deemed important because HIV/AIDS is prevalent among some immigrant groups.[13]


The literacy rate is still lower for women compared to men: the literacy rate is 94% for females (aged 15 or older, data from 2011), while for males it is 97%.[14]

Domestic violence[edit]

Domestic violence is illegal in Portugal. It is specifically addressed by Article 152 of the Criminal Code of Portugal.[15] The article, which has been amended several times throughout the years, reads: "Whoever, whether in a repetitive manner or not, inflicts physical or mental maltreatment, including bodily punishments, deprivation of liberty and sexual abuses: a) On the spouse or ex-spouse; b) On a person of the same or another gender with whom the offender maintains or has maintained a union, even if without cohabitation; c) On a progenitor of a common descendant in first degree; or d) On a particularly helpless person by reason of age, disability, disease, pregnancy or economic dependency, who cohabitates with the offender; shall be punished (...)".[16] Portugal has also ratified the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.[17] Accurate data on violence against women is difficult to obtain, but according to a study published in 2008, 38% of women have experienced physical, psychological and/or sexual violence since the age of 18.[18]

Women in politics[edit]

Traditionally, in Portugal, as in other countries, politics was considered the domain of men. However, in recent years more women have been involved. As of 2014, there were 31.3% women in parliament.[19]


  1. ^ OECD. "LFS by sex and age - indicators". stats.oecd.org. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Table 4: Gender Inequality Index". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  3. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2018" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 10–11.
  4. ^ "Portugal-Women (data as of 1993)". Mongabay.com. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Portugal - Women". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  6. ^ ""Aborto não deve ser uma prioridade da investigação criminal"". publico.pt. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  7. ^ "PORDATA - Live births outside of marriage, with parents co-habiting or not (%) in Portugal". pordata.pt. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Fertility in Portugal: a Macro/Micro Economic Perspective / Projects funded by national science agencies / Projects / Research output / Welcome - CEFAGE". Uevora.pt. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "In Portugal, abortion legal but many doctors refuse to perform them". wbez.org. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  11. ^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  12. ^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  13. ^ "HIV/AIDS Among Immigrants in Portugal: Socio-Demographic and Behavioural Correlates of Preventive Practices" (PDF). Cdn.intechoppen.com. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  14. ^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  15. ^ Ministry of Justice. "Breaking the silence – united against domestic violence": 29th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice - Report from Portugal. Direção-Geral da Política de Justiça. p. 2. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017.
  16. ^ Article 152 reads in Portuguese: Artigo 152.º Violência doméstica 1 — Quem, de modo reiterado ou não, infligir maus tratos físicos ou psíquicos, incluindo castigos corporais, privações da liberdade e ofensas sexuais: a) Ao cônjuge ou ex -cônjuge; b) A pessoa de outro ou do mesmo sexo com quem o agente mantenha ou tenha mantido uma relação análoga à dos cônjuges, ainda que sem coabitação; c) A progenitor de descendente comum em 1.º grau; ou d) A pessoa particularmente indefesa, em razão de idade, deficiência, doença, gravidez ou dependência económica, que com ele coabite; é punido (...) [2]
  17. ^ "Liste complète". coe.int. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  18. ^ "WAVE Network" (PDF). wave-network.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Women in Parliaments: World Classification". ipu.org. Retrieved 17 June 2016.

Further reading[edit]