Women in Austria

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Women in Austria
Adele Bloch-Bauer I Gustav Klimt01.jpg
Adele Bloch-Bauer in Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, 1907
Gender Inequality Index-2015[2]
Maternal mortality (per 100,000)4
Women in parliament31% (2017) [1]
Females over 25 with secondary education98.7% [M: 99.2%]
Women in labour force71% [M: 80%]
Global Gender Gap Index-2016[3]
Rank52nd out of 149

The legal position of women in Austria improved since the middle of the 1970s. With regard to women's rights, the priority in Austria is based on the equal treatment of both genders, rather than having equal rights only. Thus, Austrian women benefit from their government's attempt to compensate for gender-specific inequality of burdens. However, the concept of traditional roles, influenced by Roman Catholicism in Austria, is still prevalent within Austrian society.


The struggle for suffrage began with the formation of Allgemeiner Österreichischer Frauenverein in 1893.

Women's suffrage was granted in 1919, after the breakdown of the Habsburg Monarchy.[4]

Marriage and family life[edit]

As in other European countries, marriage was traditionally based on the husband's legal authority over the wife. Until the late 1970s, married women's freedoms were legally restricted.[5] Austria made marital rape illegal in 1989.[6] Austria was one of the last Western countries to decriminalize adultery, in 1997.[7] In 2004 marital rape became a state offense meaning it can be prosecuted by the state even in the absence of a complaint from the spouse, with procedures being similar to stranger rape.[8]

In recent years, new ways of living have emerged, with unmarried cohabitation increasing, as more young people question traditional ways. In the European Values Study (EVS) of 2008 the percentage of Austrian respondents who agreed with the assertion that "Marriage is an outdated institution" was 30.5%,[9] and as of 2012, 41.5% of children were born outside of marriage.[10] The total fertility rate is 1.46 children/women (as of 2015),[11] which is below the replacement rate of 2.1.


Most women are employed, but many work part-time. In the European Union, only the Netherlands has more women working part-time.[12] As in other German speaking areas of Europe, social norms regarding gender roles are quite conservative. In 2011, Jose Manuel Barroso, then president of the European Commission, stated "Germany, but also Austria and the Netherlands, should look at the example of the northern countries [...] that means removing obstacles for women, older workers, foreigners and low-skilled job-seekers to get into the workforce".[13]

Infrastructure changes[edit]

In the early 1990s, most of the pedestrian traffic and public transportation in Vienna was accounted for by women. Eva Kail organized “Who Owns Public Space – Women’s Everyday Life in the City” in 1991. This exhibit, coupled with a 1999 survey conducted by the City Women’s Office, demonstrated that women, in general, had more varied destinations and needed safety measures in travel more than the men in the city. These led to a change in Vienna’s urban planning. Some of the changes implemented by the city include widening the sidewalks and adding pedestrian overpasses in certain areas.

Vienna started the Frauen-Werk-Stadt, a project to produce housing complexes designed by female architects specifically to account for the needs of women. These complexes have easy access to public transportation, as well as on site facilities, such as kindergartens and pharmacies. Similar efforts with a heavy emphasis on aiding women were conducted following Vienna’s success.[14]

The changes in infrastructure served to significantly increase pedestrian traffic. As a result, the streets were more densely packed with witnesses of potential crimes. This served to reduce the amount of minor crimes committed in public spaces.[15]

Linda McDowell argued that such efforts are counterproductive, and act to deepen the existing class struggles in locations such as Vienna. McDowell’s main contention is these efforts were not careful enough to account for both women’s rights, as well as poverty.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS
  2. ^ "Gender Inequality Index". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  3. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 - Austria". World Economic Forum.
  4. ^ "85 Jahre allgemeines Frauenwahlrecht in Österreich". Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
  5. ^ Contemporary Western European Feminism, by Gisela Kaplan, p. 133
  6. ^ "Legislation in the member States of the Council of Europe in the field of violence against women" (PDF). Bizkaia.net. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
  7. ^ http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/debatte-ueber-untreue-gesetz-noch-1997-drohte-oesterreichs-ehebrechern-gefaengnis-a-317486.html
  8. ^ "The Secretary Generals database on violence against women". Sgdatabase.unwomen.org. Archived from the original on 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  9. ^ [1] See: Variable Description - Family - Q 45.
  10. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/table.do?tab=table&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tps00018
  11. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html
  12. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=ro&catId=89&newsId=2535&furtherNews=yes
  13. ^ http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-persistently-low-birthrate-gets-marginal-boost/a-15325123-0
  14. ^ "How Vienna designed a city for women". Apolitical. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  15. ^ Whitzman, Carolyn; Andrew, Caroline; Viswanath, Kalpana (2014-06-10). "Partnerships for women's safety in the city: "four legs for a good table"". Environment and Urbanization. 26 (2): 443–456. doi:10.1177/0956247814537580. ISSN 0956-2478.
  16. ^ McDowell, Linda; Perrons, Diane; Fagan, Colette; Ray, Kath; Ward, Kevin (March 2005). "The Contradictions and Intersections of Class and Gender in a Global City: Placing Working Women's Lives on the Research Agenda". Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. 37 (3): 441–461. doi:10.1068/a3781. ISSN 0308-518X.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]