Portuguese American Journal

March 8th | Portuguese women have come a long way – International Women’s Day

March 8th has been the recognized date for International Women’s Day since 1914, when it was officially declared by the International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and the work still needed to be done.

The day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and is also a call to action for gender equality and women’s rights. Each year, the day has a different theme, and events and activities are held around the world to mark the occasion.

Women in Portugal were only allowed to vote for the first time in 1931, under the doctorship of Estado Novo, led António Oliveira Salazar (1889-1970), During the doctorship, which lasted for a total of 41 years, from 1933 to 1974, women were not on equal terms with men. 

Full legal gender equality was mandated by Portugal’s Constitution of 1976, which resulted from the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974.

Before 1974,  under Salazar’s regime, Portuguese citizens were severely restricted of their basic civil rights and freedoms, including women who faced significant disadvantages. Under this regime, women were not allowed to participate in politics and had limited opportunities to pursue their choice of careers. In addition, women earned only 60% of what men earned for the same jobs, and were subject to the authority of the head of the household, which led to domestic violence and various inequalities.

Women were then expected to fulfill traditional roles as wives and mothers, and their educational and career opportunities were limited. They were often relegated to low-paying jobs and were not allowed to hold positions of power or influence. Therefore, the revolution of April 25, 1974, opened new opportunities for Portuguese women and gave them hope for a better future.

After the 1974, Portugal underwent significant political and social changes that resulted in the recognition of women’s rights and their increased participation in political and economic life. Today, Portuguese women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men and can pursue their chosen careers and participate fully in the country’s political and social life.

Although Portugal has since made significant advancements towards gender equality, there is still room for improvement, particularly in the areas of economic participation and political empowerment.

In recent years, Portugal has taken steps to improve the representation of women in politics. The current government of Portugal under Prime Minister António Costa focused on equal rights between women and men, with women being assigned for 9 of the 17 minister positions, above the world average.

Currently, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 2021 statistics, women in Portugal make up 39.8% of the members of the Portuguese parliament, which is above the world average of 25%.

Portugal also scored 62.2 out of 100 points in EIGE’s Gender Equality Index (2021). The highest-scoring countries were Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, while the lowest-scoring countries were Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, and Cyprus.

The Gender Equality Index (GEI) is a tool developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to measure and monitor progress in gender equality in the European Union (EU) member states. The index is based on a set of indicators that measure gender equality across various domains, including work, money, knowledge, time, power, health, and violence.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, Portugal ranks 9th out of 156 countries for gender equality, scoring particularly well in the areas of educational attainment and health and survival. However, there is still room for improvement in areas such as economic participation and political empowerment.

Overall, while there is still work to be done, Portuguese women are certainly advancing and making significant strides towards achieving greater gender equality and representation. They are advancing in various areas of society, including education, politics, and the workforce. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of women in leadership positions at all levels in Portugal.

However, in terms of education, women in Portugal have achieved significant progress. The country has a high literacy rate for both men and women, and women have been increasingly participating in higher education. In fact, women now make up the majority of university graduates in Portugal. Yet, women are still underrepresented in certain fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In terms of workforce participation, women in Portugal have also made progress. According to the World Bank, the female labor force participation rate in Portugal was 58.8% in 2019. Yet, women are still underrepresented in leadership positions and face a gender pay gap, earning on average less than men for the same job.

Women in Portugal continue to be active in advocating for their rights and in promoting gender equality,  raising awareness about issues such as gender-based violence, unequal pay, and underrepresentation in positions of power.

Despite the progress made, Portuguese women continue to face challenges, including gender-based violence, unequal pay, and underrepresentation. As a  result, women’s rights movements and organizations continue to advocate for change and raising awareness about these issues.

International Women’s Day serves as a reminder to continue the fight for gender equality and empower women worldwide in all aspects of society.

Carolina Matos/Editor/With Staff/Updated

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