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. Women were allowed to vote for the first time in Portugal in 1931 under Salazar's Estado Novo. The right for women to vote was later broadened twice under the Estado Novo. The first time was in 1946 and the second time in 1968 under Marcelo Caetano, law 2137 proclaimed the equality of men and women for electoral purposes. 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.
The social and religious more and norms effecting the perception of women's behavior depended on the woman's social class, not only in terms of the expectations society had of them, but because their autonomy and ability to make choices, the legal protections and dignity privilege afforded, and access to education was not available for all women. The inequality in society was not only between men and women, but also among women of differing social and economic status. These matters took their place in the social discourse beginning only in the early 1700s, and there is little evidence that the "debate on women" (French: querelle des femmes, as it is called in Europe) occupied a significant role in the public consciousness prior to the 18th century.
The electoral rule of the Portuguese Republic stated the right to vote for "Portuguese citizens over 21 years of age who could read and write and were heads of families" without specifying gender. Carolina Beatriz Ângelo took advantage of the ambiguity of the law and used it to exercise her vote. She was a head of her family with a child and knew how to read and write, so she became the first woman to vote in Portugal. The Republican Regime did not want women to vote and swiftly changed the law. In 1913, the laws were changed to include gender and to specifically deny women the right to vote. The Afonso Costa’s Electoral Code of 1913 sealed off the loophole that had allowed Carolina Beatriz Ângelo, to vote in 1911. Portuguese women would have to wait 1931 when under Salazar were given the right to vote in Portugal provided they had completed secondary education.
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. The women's right to vote had not been obtained during the First Republic, despite feminist claims – however secondary education was a requirement for their suffrage, while men needed only to be able to read and write.
The right for women to vote was later broadened twice under the Estado Novo. The first time was in 1946 and the second time in 1968 under Marcelo Caetano, law 2137 proclaimed the equality of men and women for electoral purposes. The 1968 electoral law did not make any distinction between men and women.
It was also under the Estado Novo that Maria Teresa Cárcomo Lobo politician and jurist, became the first woman to hold office in Portugal. She was also deputy of the Assembleia Nacional of the First Portuguese Republic, during the XI legislature.
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. 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 2019, 56.8% of births were to unmarried women.
Like most Western countries, Portugal has to deal with low fertility levels: the country has experienced a sub-replacement fertility rate since the 1980s.
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.
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. Portugal's HIV/AIDS rate is, at 0.6% of adults (aged 15–49), one of the highest in Europe. 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.
Domestic violence is illegal in Portugal. It is specifically addressed by Article 152 of the Criminal Code of Portugal. 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 (...)".
Portugal has also ratified the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. 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.
Women in politics
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.
First female cabinet member: Teresa Lobo, Under Secretary of State for Health and Assistance (1970–1973)
First female secretaries of state: Lourdes Belchior and Lourdes Pintasilgo, Secretary of State for Culture and Scientific Research and Secretary of State for Social Security, respectively (May–July 1974).
First female minister: Lourdes Pintasilgo, Minister of Social Affairs (July–September 1974).
Longest-serving female MP: Rosa Albernaz, MP for 38 years (1980–2018) for the Socialists.
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^In the original “São eleitores da Assembleia Nacional todos os cidadãos portugueses, maiores ou emancipados, que saibam ler e escrever português e não estejam abrangidos por qualquer das incapacidades previstas na lei; e os que, embora não saibam ler nem escrever português tenham já sido alguma vez recenseados ao abrigo da Lei n.º 2015, de 28 de Maio de 1946, desde que satisfaçam os requisitos nela fixados”.
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^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 (...) 
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