Facts & Figures

RoSa is an essential source for information on gender. Here you can find some of the factsheets we published over the years along with a timeline of women's rights in Belgium. Please contact us if you are looking for any kind of specific information regarding gender and women's rights.

Women's emancipation in Belgium: timeline

1864 Isabelle Gatti de Gamond opens the first college for girls.
1880 First women students admitted to the University of Brussels.
1884 Isala van Diest is the first woman to open a medical office. In order to allow women to practice medicine a special decree has to be voted.
1890 Legally approved access to all academic occupations.
1892 The foundation of the 'Ligue Belge du Droit des Femmes', the first Belgian women's organization established by Marie Popelin, Louis Frank and Isala van Diest.
1900 Introduction of a law allowing women to have a bank account, to sign an employment contract and to earn a salary.
1905 Foundation of Conseil National des Femmes Belges.
1914 - 1918 World War I
1920 Law of April: right to vote at the local level.
1921 The Ligue Belge du Droit des Femmes founds a political party for women: Parti général des femmes.
1921 Equal salaries for male and female teachers. This is the first step towards equal pay for equal work.
1921 Marie Spaak Janson becomes the first Belgian woman senator.
1929 Lucie Dejardin is the first woman to be directly elected as a member of parliament in the House of representatives.
1934 Economical crisis. Women are excluded from all government functions.
1934 Protest demonstration against the limited job opportunities for women. An initiative of La Porte Ouverte with Louise De Craene - Van Duuren.
1940 - 1945 World War II
1947 Foundation of the first women's section of a trade union. All major trade unions in Belgium will soon follow this example.
1948 Right to vote at all levels is decreed by law.
1957 Ratification of the Treaty of Rome: article 119 prescribes equal pay for equal work.
1965 First Female Minister of State: Marguerite de Riemaecker-Legot becomes minister of Family and Housing.
1966 Some 3000 women at FN Herstal go on strike for equal pay. The strike lasts for three months.
1968 Stewardess Gabrielle Defrenne files a gender discrimination suit against SABENA, the National Airline. The airline forces women to retire at age forty, whereas men are allowed to pursue their job until the legal term of retirement has been reached.
1969 Introduction of a law protecting women from losing their jobs when they get married or when they are pregnant.
1970 Arising of women action groups such as Dolle Mina and PAG in the major cities.
1970 The first 'Vote Women' campaign is a success. In the city of Bruges, the number of elected women at the local council increases from two to seven.
1971 Introduction of the equality principle regarding unemployment compensations.
1971 Foundation of Vrouwen Overleg Kommitee (VOK) as an independent feminist think tank.
1972 November 11: First National Women's day. Ten thousand women attend the meeting. Among the speakers are Germaine Greer and Simone de Beauvoir.
1974 Introduction of the law on parenthood equality, which gives equal rights to mother and father for raising and fostering children.
1974 The Conseil National des Femmes Belges splits into a French speaking Women's Council and a Dutch speaking Women's Council.
1975 The National Labour Council (consisting of representatives of employers and employees) signs a collective agreement on equal pay.
1976 National Women's day on abortion. This causes a split between the leftist radicals and the Christian women's organizsations.
1977 Foundation of RoSa, tthe first specialized documentation centre on feminism, equal opportunities and women's studies. In 1979 Université des Femmes is established.
1981 March 7th: mass demonstration Women against crisis. Ten thousands of women fill the streets.
1985 Christian-democratic politician Miet Smet becomes the first state secretary for social emancipation, thus making the equal opportunities issue an official federal policy.
1990 Early term abortion is no longer a criminal offence.
1994 The law Smet-Tobback introduces a rule saying that one third of candidates on electoral lists must be women.
1995 Nomination of Anne Van Asbroeck as the first Flemish Minister for Equal Opportunities.
1995 Foundation of Amazone: the national resource centre on equality between women and men. An initiative by Miet Smet.
1995 Ratification of The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women
2002 February 21: Article 10 of the Belgian constitution is amended as follows: "equality between men and women must be guaranteed".
2007 Federal law on gender mainstreaming which obligates to take the gender dimension into account at all levels of federal policy making.
2007 Federal law against gender discrimination.
2012 New federal law with the aim of narrowing the gender pay gap.


The RoSa factsheets aim at familiarizing you with a broad range of gender related subjects. Some factsheets discuss important matters of general interest; others focus on the situation in Flanders.

no 48 Women's organizations in the United Nations
no 39 Women in Politics: Facts and Figures updated version!
no 34 Feminism in Africa
no 31 Labour participation and the pay gap
no 28 The first feminist wave in Belgium
no 25 Women in politics: facts and figures (see no 39)
no 23 Feminist thinkers: Mary Wollstonecraft
no 20 Women in trade unions
no 17 Gender terminology
no 16 Partner-related domestic violence: facts and figures
no 15 Partner-related domestic violence against adult women
no 13 Female refugees in Belgium
no 10 Gender relations in primary and secondary education
no 6 The image of witches
no 5 Milestones in the Belgian political history
no 3 The second wave of feminism in Flanders
no 2 Women in the academic world
no 1 Milestones in the history of women in Belgium

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