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MODULE 5 - Unit 3



Past and Current state of the women workforce in Portugal

To understand the causes of women under-representation in the labour market in Portugal, we have to first take a look at the historical and socioeconomic context that led to this situation.Historical contextThe first Portuguese women’s movement, Conselho Nacional das Mulheres Portuguesas (1914), was formed back in the late nineteenth century and, shortly after the proclamation of the First Republic in 1910, legal equality in marriage was established: women were granted divorce rights. They were still not allowed to manage property or vote. During the Estado Novo, an authoritarian political regime which was in place in Portugal from 1933 to 1974, women's rights were still restricted.In the 1933 Portuguese constitutional referendum women were allowed to vote for the first time in Portugal but only if they’d received secondary education. In 1968 women were finally allowed to vote, but the general rule to be able to read meant resulted in systemic limitations that carried on until 1976.


The constitution of 1976 brought Portuguese women full legal equality and in 1977 the Commission on the Status of Women was established: its task was to improve the position of women in Portugal and protect their rights. As a result the position of women did actually improve and by the 1990s women were prominent in many professions, slightly more than half of those enrolled in higher education were women. Despite these significant gains, however, Portuguese women still had not achieved full social and economic equality. They remained underrepresented in most upper-level positions, whether public or private. omen usually held less than 10 percent of the seats in the country's parliament. Women were also rarely cabinet members or judges. In the main trade unions, women's occupancy of leadership positions was proportionally only half their total union membership, and, on the whole, working-class women earned less than their male counterparts.

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