Exclusion and Inclusion in the Legal Professions: Negotiating Gender in Central and East Central Europe, 1887–1945
KeywordsComparative women’s legal history, history of the legal professions, women’s rights movements, gender discrimination, gender equality, women’s legal status, judges, attorneys, legal practice, citizenship, civil code reform, Central Europe
AbstractThis article examines the struggle by women to gain access to higher education opportunities in law and to secure the right to work in the legal profession between the 1880s through the 1940s in Central and East Central Europe. Activists challenged the exclusion of women from universities and the field of law by testing meritocratic and democratic principles or holding to account constitutional commitments to equality. The lawyers’ movement they subsequently created acted as a spearhead for the legal wing of the women’s emancipation movement that sought to reform women’s rights in national legislation and the civil codes. These processes were integral to the negotiation of gender roles in Central European countries from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Moreover, the rise of pan-European female lawyers’ associations illustrates the broader significance of these legal struggles. In the history of the women’s rights movements, the right to work in the legal professions and in civil service was also integral to the larger struggle for full citizenship rights.
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