The constitutional bases for gender equality


  • Sónia Fertuzinhos



The 1976 Constitution included equal rights for women in Portuguese constitutional law for the first time. This article uses the literature and the texts of parliamentary debates to analyse the evolution of the constitutional bases for gender equality over the 40-year life of the Constitution and its seven reviews to date. The break with the previous constitutional experience, especially that of 1933, and the transformative dimension of the Constitution that arose from the 1974 revolution are at the roots of the key role the latter had and has in promoting gender equality and public policies in this area. The densification of the gender equality dimension of the principle of equality, marked by increasing demand for factual and not just formal equality, illustrates and accompanies the path taken by women’s rights. The study of that path makes it possible to identify several points for discussion and deepening in future research, including the influence of Portugal’s participation in the European project and in different international organisations, and the importance of the role of different actors in the process of constructing the constitutional text in the gender equality field, with particular attention to women’s organisations.