As established in the Colombian Constitution of 1991, women in Colombia have the right to bodily integrity and autonomy; to vote (see also: Elections in Colombia); to hold public office; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to own property; to receive an education; to serve in the military in certain duties, but are excluded from combat arms units; to enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental and religious rights. Women's rights in Colombia have been gradually developing since the early 20th Century.
Women in Colombia have been important in military aspects, serving mainly as supporters or spies such as in the case of Policarpa Salavarrieta who played a key role in the independence of Colombia from the Spanish empire. Some indigenous groups such as the Wayuu hold a matriarchal society in which a woman's role is central and the most important for their society. Women belonging to indigenous groups were highly targeted by the Spanish colonizers during the colonial era. Many indigenous women were subject to slavery, rape and the loss of their cultural identity.
Throughout the colonial era, the 19th century and the establishment of the republican era, Colombian women were relegated to be housewives in a male dominated society. Education for women was limited to the wealthy and they were only allowed to study until middle school in monastery under Roman Catholic education. On December 10, 1934 the Congress of Colombia presented a law to give women the right to study. The law generated controversy, as did any issue related to women's rights at the time.
Template:Rights in Colombia Before 1933 women in Colombia were only allowed schooling until middle school level education. Liberal congressman Jorge Eliécer Gaitán defended the decree Number 1972 of 1933 while the conservative Germán Arciniegas opposed it, to allow women to receive higher education schooling. The decree passed and was signed by the Liberal government of Alfonso López Pumarejo. The state owned National University of Colombia was the first higher education institution to allow female students. Gerda Westendorp was admitted on February 1, 1935 to study medicine. Gabriela Peláez, who was admitted as a student in 1936 graduated as lawyer, becoming the first female to ever graduate from a university in Colombia. María Carulla founded in 1936 the first school of social works under the support of the Our Lady of the Rosary University. After these, women began not be seen as inferior by many for their academic achievements, creativity and discipline, and began to support the idea of citizenship for women following the example of other countries. The constant political violence, social issues and economic problems were one of the main subjects of study for women, mainly in area of family violence and couple relationships, as well as children abuse.
Legal contracts rights
A group of women led by Georgina Fletcher met with then president of Colombia Enrique Olaya Herrera with the intention of asking him to support the transformation of the Colombian legislation regarding women's rights to administer properties. The law was named ley sobre Régimen de Capitulaciones Matrimoniales ("Law about marriage capitulations regime") which was later proposed in congress in December 1930 by Ofelia Uribe as a constitutional reform. The law's main objective was to allow women to administer their properties and not their husbands, male relatives or tutors, as had been the case. The move generated a scandal in congress. It did not pass, and later generated persecutions and plotting against the group of women. As leader of the group, Georgina Fletcher was persecuted and isolated. The Régimen de Capitulaciones Matrimoniales was once again presented in congress in 1932 and approved into Law 28 of 1932.
Women's right to suffrage was granted by Colombian dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla in 1954, but had its origins in the 1930s with the struggle of women to acquire full citizenship. In 1957 women first voted in Colombia on a plebiscite.
Women in the military and law enforcement
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