Flag of Portugal

Gender-political situation in Portugal


Legal situation:



Brief description and evaluation

Due to the extraordinary impact of the patriarchal and conservative authoritarian regime in Portugal, for many years Portugal lagged behind other Western European countries in terms of indicators and policies on gender equality, but in recent decades it has witnessed accelerated modernisation on many levels, including in relation to gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights.

Social change in the realm of gender equality and family life started to become apparent during the 1980s, e.g. decline in marriage rates, decline in birth rates, rise in the average age at first marriage, rise in divorce, cohabitation and solo living, and a growing participation of women in the public sphere. But, marriage remains normative; that reflects the increase in cohabitation among the younger generations. Compared to cohabiting coupledom, solo living is still highly residual.

Changes in society were influenced by wider processes of modernization (e.g. literacy rates improved, alongside healthcare, labour rights and access to information and technology), particularly after EU accession in 1986, and were accompanied by the increasing visibility and political efficacy of women’s organizations. Portuguese culture seems to be increasingly influenced by principles which were at the heart of the collective demands of the women’s movement. These include the right to equality between women and men, the importance of autonomy and choice, and protection from violence.

[Source: “The Policy On Gender Equality In Portugal” (in English; Link: http://www.cite.gov.pt/asstscite/downloads/publics/BA3113937ENC.pdf , S. 5)]

Recent situation: The last 3 Portuguese governments have prioritised tackling domestic violence with legislative measures and awareness campaigns, including within law enforcement agencies. The number of prosecutions of (male) perpetrators increased from 71 in 2000 to 1,377 in 2011. Portugal’s progress in terms of gender equality slowed drastically in 2011. The number of women ministers decreased from 31% in 2011 to 18% in 2012. Unemployment benefits have been cut by 20% and the female unemployment rate is set to rise sharply as family budget reductions hit demand for services, where the majority of employees are women. Access to social benefits is being restricted and cuts and restructuring of care services is impacting upon women’s care burden as well as their rights. Maternity hospitals are being closed; benefits for carers of children with disabilities have been cut by 30%. The general hardships are also leading to rising levels of violence against women, with an increase of 21% from 2011 to 2012 in the number of women murdered in cases of domestic violence. Institutional mechanisms for gender equality are weakened by the addition of further grounds for discrimination to their competence. Mechanism for the distribution of funding are being similarly broadened while the administrative burden on civil society recipients is increasing, drastically affecting the sustainability of women’s associations and the essential services they offer.

[Source: Kurzprofil „Portugal“ der European Women´s Lobby (in English; Link: http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?action=acceder_document&arg=3216&cle=ed325be270a28b6b5e9938591c9141f665c27433&file=pdf%2Fwomen_s_watch_eng.pdf , S. 34)]

Compared to other Southern European countries, the female employment rate in Portugal is high.

[Source: “The Policy On Gender Equality In Portugal” (in English; Link: http://www.cite.gov.pt/asstscite/downloads/publics/BA3113937ENC.pdf , S. 7)]

58.2% of women in Portugal work full-time, as compared to 69.6% of men. Although more women work part-time than men, women’s employment rate does not drop significantly (1.9%) when they have children. This points to the strength of the country’s parental leave system, which encourages the sharing of leave between parents, and return to work.

[Source: Kurzprofil „Portugal“ der European Women´s Lobby (in English; Link: http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?action=acceder_document&arg=3216&cle=ed325be270a28b6b5e9938591c9141f665c27433&file=pdf%2Fwomen_s_watch_eng.pdf , S. 34)]

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legal situation

Legal situation

The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic enshrines the principle of gender equality and the promotion of equality between men and women as a fundamental task of the State.

[Source: “The Policy On Gender Equality In Portugal” (in English; Link: http://www.cite.gov.pt/asstscite/downloads/publics/BA3113937ENC.pdf , S. 6)]

Portugal was thus one of the first countries in the UN to sign the 1980 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Gender equality law
Portugal was one of the first countries in the UN to sign the 1980 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Law on Equal Opportunities and Equal Treatment of Women and Men in the Areas of Work, Employment and Training (1979):

Ban on discrimination and promotion of equal opportunities and the equal treatment of women and men in the areas of work, employment and training.

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Anti-discrimination law
Labour Code/Código Do Trabalho

The Labour Code (Legislative Decree No. 99/2003 + No. 35/2004) prohibits gender-based discrimination on the labour market; implementation of the EU Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation (the catalogue of grounds for discrimination includes political views and trade union membership). The Labour Code (Legislative Decree No. 18/2004) also prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity or race.

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Anti-discrimination law on goods and services
Legislative Decree No 14/2008 entrenches the ban on and an imposition of sanctions for gender-based discrimination when accessing goods and services and thus implements the EU Directive accordingly.

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Laws on quotas, above all in the political and economic fields.
Since 2006, statutory 1/3 quota for all party lists for European, national and local elections.

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Other laws/statutory regulations and government programmes
Constitution: 1976, reformed in 1997 and 2005;

Excerpt from the fundamental rights catalogue of the Constitution Article13: Right to Equality

“(…) reinforces the equality principle: Article 9 now identifies promoting equality between women and men as one of the State’s fundamental responsibilities and explicitly authorises the adoption of positive action measures. It recognises the right of every person, in the framework of the Rights, Liberties and Guarantees, to legal protection against all forms of discrimination (article 26-1), recognises the right for all workers, of either sex, in the framework of their fundamental rights, to organise their work so as to reconcile their professional and family life (article 59-1-b). Its article 109 on the political participation of citizens, states that “the direct and active participation of men and women in political life constitutes the condition and the fundamental instrument to consolidate the democratic system, in line with the law promoting equality in the exercise of civic and political rights and non-discrimination on the grounds of sex in access to political posts.”


  • Legalisation of abortion following a nationwide referendum in 2007
  • Since 2010, equal treatment of same-sex couples in marriage

1. Global Plan For Equality (1997), 2. Global Plan For Equality (2002):

New parity paradigm; integration of EO in school and further education, gender-based statistics, violence, labour market, work-life balance, social security for women and families, health, raising children, science, culture; double and/or integrated strategy of GM and subsidies policy, strengthening of equality networks with NGOs and social partners (participation of civil society); other issues: education and culture, reconciliation of private, social, professional and family life aspects, power and political participation, business and employment, health, violence, budgetary policy and social security, living and environmental conditions, poverty and social exclusion, media and cooperation

National Action Plan for Gender Equality:

The main policy instruments are the National Plan for Equality – Gender, Citizenship and Non-Discrimination and the National Plan against Domestic Violence, both in their fourth edition (2011-2013). The intermediate report concerning the first year of implementation of the IV National Plan for Equality (2011), contains information about several measures being implemented. The plans against domestic violence have been relatively effective and acquired great visibility in Portuguese society.

[Source: “The Policy On Gender Equality In Portugal” (in English; Link: http://www.cite.gov.pt/asstscite/downloads/publics/BA3113937ENC.pdf , S. 6)]

The Fourth National Plan for Equality, Gender, Citizenship and non-Discrimination is considered to be an instrument of public policies to promote equality and to adopt gender mainstreaming that encompasses the commitments assumed by Portugal at national and international level. The 4th Plan assumes equality as a factor of competitiveness and development by reinforcing the integration of the gender dimension (as a requirement for good governance) in all policy domains and within the social reality, along with the implementation of specific actions (including positive actions) to overcome inequalities that affect particularly women. [Source: Portugal: Gender Mainstreaming; EIGE (in English; Link: http://eige.europa.eu/content/iv-plano-nacional-para-igualdade-g%C3%A9nero-cidadania-e-n%C3%A3o-discrimina%C3%A7%C3%A3o-2011-2013)]

The Fourth National Plan for Equality, Gender, Citizenship and non-Discrimination recognises gender mainstreaming as one of the three pillars of its strategic approach, and considers it a requirement for good governance: a gender perspective should be transversally integrated in all policy domains.

In the end of 2013, new Plans were adopted: the V National Plan for Equality (2014-2017);the  V National Action Plan for the Prevention and Fight against Domestic and Gender-based Violence (2014-2017), including the III Program of Action for the Prevention and Elimination of FGM (2014-2017), and the III National Plan for the Prevention and Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings (2014-2017).

[Source: Portugal: Gender Mainstreaming; EIGE (in English; Link: http://eige.europa.eu/about/gender-mainstreaming/portugal)]

In summary, it must be said, however, that, whilst various legal regulations exist, their application is all too insufficient. While the system of equality therefore exists within the meaning of the law, its effectiveness in practice is poor.

[Source: Gender Equality Law in 33 European Countries: Portugal (in English); p. 193, last accessed: 20.03.2015)

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Current political discourse
See above: Brief description/evaluation

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NGOs: political parties, civil society organisations

Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights (PPDM - Plataforma Portuguesa para os Direitos das Mulheres, in Portuguese):
The Platform is a social, cultural and humanist NGO that focuses on women’s rights and has no affiliation to any political party, religious institution or government structure or their member organisations. Established in 2004 with the aim of promoting cooperation among NGOs in the field of women’s rights and equality in Portugal and at European/international level (member of the EWL and AFEM). Tasks: research, lobbying, information, training, campaigns. Issues: campaign for 50/50 parity of women and men in politics (2009), democratic participation, basic rights, EuroMed, peace and security, gender-based violence. Current publication (in Portuguese) on equal opportunities of women and men: Homens e Mulheres em Portugal 2010.

(Founding) members of the Platform include:

Plataforma Portuguesa para os Direitos das Mulheres
Centro Maria Alzira Lemos – Casa das Associações
Parque Infantil do Alvito, Estrada do Alvito, Monsanto.
1300-054 Lisbon
Tel.: 00 351 21 362 60 49
Skype: plataforma-direitos-mulheres
E-mail: plataforma@plataformamulheres.org.pt
Facebook: www.facebook.com/plataforma.mulheres

UMAR: União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta (in Portuguese):
Dating back almost 30 years, this is one of the oldest feminist organizations in Portugal; it regularly organizes events on feminist themes and, above all, does feminist remembrance work.

[Source: https://feminissabon.wordpress.com/links-und-adressen/]

UMAR is an organization founded in September 1976 with the goal to promote gender equality and defend women's rights. They hold a shelter for women victims of violence and organize many meetings and workshops aiming to empower women. They have always been committed to the struggle for decriminalising abortion in Portugal as well as in the World March of Women.

[Source: http://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/554/umar-uni-o-de-mulheres-alternativa-e-resposta]

União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta Lisboa
Rua da Cozinha Económica, Bloco D, Espaços M e N,
1300-149 Lisbon
Tel: 00 351 218 873 005
Fax: 00 351 218 884 086
E-mail: umar.sede@sapo.pt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UMARfeminismos?ref=hl

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Government, ministries

Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade (in Portuguese):
The policy area of gender equality is currently under the administration of the Minister Assistant and of Parliamentary Affairs, who delegates to the Secretary of State of Parliamentary Affairs and Equality the definition of public policies in the areas of citizenship and gender equality, fight against domestic violence and human trafficking.

[Source: eige.europa.eu/content/secretary-of-state-of-parliamentary-affairs-and-equality]

Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade
Palácio de São Bento, Lisbon, Zip Code:  1249-068
Tel.:  +351 213920500
Fax: +351 213920515
E-mail: gabinete.seapi@pcm.gov.pt

Observatório do Tráfico de Seres Humanos (in Portuguese):
The mission of the Observatory is to produce, collect, analyse and disseminate information and knowledge about the trafficking in human beings phenomenon and other forms of gender violence.

[Source: http://eige.europa.eu/content/observatory-on-trafficking-in-human-beings]

Avenida D. Carlos I, 134, 4.º, Lisbon, Zip Code: 1249-104
Tel.: +351 213947109
Fax: +351 213909264
E-mail: otsh@otsh.mai.gov.pt

ONVG - Observatório Nacional de Violência e Género, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas (in English):
The National Observatory of Violence and Gender (Observatório Nacional de Violência de Género, ONVG) is located at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, integrating researchers from all faculties of the New University of Lisbon, as well as distinguished international experts.

Founded in 2008, it is the first national observatory covering the fields of Gender and Violence, and its independent structure is in line with that suggested by the Council of Europe, following scientific and academic guidelines such as those pertaining to its parent university.

The Observatory appeared as a consequence of several research efforts conducted over the past two decades by a team of SociNOVA, currently CesNOVA, whose results have helped deepen the scientific knowledge on the various dimensions of social – particularly against women –, domestic and gender violence, and to influence national policies in this area, as well as to inform and support policies and recommendations of international bodies.

[Source: http://onvg.fcsh.unl.pt/, last accessed: 20.03.2015]

Observatório Nacional de Violência e Género
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas - Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Av. Berna 26, sala 4.07
1069-061 Lisboa
Tel: 00 351 21 795 8453
Tel: 00 351 21 790 8300
E-Mail:  onvg@fcsh.unl.pt

Portal para a Igualdade (in Portuguese):
Is the government’s main information portal on the issue of gender equality. All the information on this issue is summarised here: legal situation, action plans, campaigns, competition, conferences, seminars, etc.

Other commissions/representatives:

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Other gender actors

L’AFEM - Association des Femmes de l’Europe Méridionale (available in the languages of the participating countries):
is a European network comprising individuals, organisations and umbrella organisations from Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal. The only organisation from Portugal represented here is the Platform for Women’s Rights; incl. project on the subject of the work-life balance for women and men (legislation and practice).

Centro de Cultura e Intervenção Feminista (in Portuguese):
The reference library located there, “Elina Guimarães”, is a useful source for researching Portuguese feminism.

[Source: https://feminissabon.wordpress.com/links-und-adressen/]

Rua da Cozinha Económica, Bloco D, 30-M e 30-N, Alcântara (Lisboa)
Tel.: 00351 218 873 005
E-mail: centroculturafeminista@gmail.com

Rede 8 de Março (in Portuguese):
Network comprising various feminist, anti-racist and LGBT* organizations that has been in existence since 2012 and organizes cultural events to coincide with various action days, including on 8 March

[Source: https://feminissabon.wordpress.com/links-und-adressen/]

E-mail: rede8marco@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rede-8-de-Mar%C3%A7o/188445221306340

ILGA Portugal: Intervenção Lésbica, Gay, Bissexual e Transgénero, in Portuguese, with individual items in English
Founded in 1995, it is Portugal’s oldest association for the protection of LGBT rights. It strives to achieve the social inclusion of LGBTs in Portugal. Its sphere of activity includes fighting against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the promotion of human rights, and gender equality. Its head office is situated in Lisbon.

E-mail: lga-portugal@ilga.org

Centro LGBT (in Portuguese):
The centre is located within ILGA Portugal. LGBTs meet here from Thursday to Saturday between 6.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m.

Centro LGBT
Rua dos Fanqueiros, 40 - 1100-231 Lisboa; metro: Baixa/Chiado ou Terreiro do Paço
E-mail: centro@ilga-portugal.pt

Mob - espaço associativo, in Portuguese
Situated in the heart of the party quarter lies the head office of Precários Inflexíveis, an association that campaigns against precarious working conditions; a venue for films, concerts and lectures; sometimes even simply a bar where people can openly discuss feminist topics and critically discuss capitalism

[Source: https://feminissabon.wordpress.com/links-und-adressen/]

Mob - espaço associativo
Rua dos Anjos 12 F, 1150-037 Lisbon

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Universities and associations

CIEG: Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos de Género (in Portuguese):
Founded in 2012, the CIEG is an interdisciplinary centre for gender studies at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL). It is the only centre in Portugal that is fully dedicated to gender research. Researchers at Portuguese and international colleges and universities examine gender issues from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. The following research groups exist: a) Gender, feminism and women’s studies, b) Politics, institutions and citizenship, c) Gender and the construction of modern societies.

ISCSP – Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas
Rua Almerindo Lessa – 1300-663 Lisbon
E-mail: cieg@iscsp.ulisboa.pt
Tel: 00351 21 361 94 30

Portuguese Association Of Women’s Studies (Associação Portuguesa de Estudos sobre as Mulheres (APEM) (in English):
The Association of Women’s Studies is a non-profit organisation which seeks to support, promote and encourage women’s studies, feminist studies, gender studies in every area of knowledge. It is a national organisation, which has brought together experts from a variety of scientific and academic fields as well as scientific and academic institutes since 1991. The website also provides an overview of current research projects, events and publications.


Universidade Aberta (in Portuguese):
Here, it is possible to take a Master’s degree in “Estudos sobre as Mulheres” (“Women’s Studies”); the courses are held in Portuguese, however.

[Source: https://feminissabon.wordpress.com/links-und-adressen/]

Universidade Aberta
Rua da Escola Politécnica nº 141 (near Príncipe Real / Rato)

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Description of state of source material:
The source material is average to good. Government commission websites and those of a few NGOs can be used to do “local” online research; the majority of sites are, however, only available in Portuguese or only offer a brief amount of English content.

Citing of relevant sources:
Internet sources have been cited in context

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This study was conducted by Tanja Berger und Pamela Dorsch and comissioned by the Gunda Werner Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2010. Last updated late 2014/early 2015.

All images, except marked otherwise Public Domain CC0