In France, after a long struggle, married women won the right to open a bank account without their husband’s permission. How long did this take?
How is this text the foundation?
The Napoleonic Code establishes the minority of married women. Article 213 thus indicates that the husband owes protection to his wife, and the wife owes obedience to her husband.
In other words, it places the woman under conjugal guardianship, depriving her of business ability in the same way as children.
If the status of “minor” remains, rights are gradually granted to married women…
We have indeed noticed progress that corresponds to the social and economic evolution of the country, especially thanks to the second industrialization that took place in France around the years 1870-1880.
At that time, with the advent of factories and urbanization, more and more women worked outside the home. They begin to earn a living, but remain deprived of the fruits of that work, since they do not have the ability to dispose of their money.
However, since they are guardians of good household management and contribute to children’s education, politicians decided in 1881 to give them the option of opening a savings account without their husband’s approval.
The goal is to enable them to save money to deal with life’s mishaps. A few years later, in 1895, they were given the option to withdraw from the same savings account.
Are there exceptions?
Yes, for “public traders”. A woman who is a trader before marriage can, unless her husband files an objection with the commercial court, have a bank account and perform all activities related to the welfare of her professional activity.
Other exemptions refer to widows, divorcees (the right to divorce was restored in the Third Republic), separated from property and body, and singles who have the status of “principals” and can manage their income as they wish.
But, in the 1900s, most women were married!
And married women don’t have their own salary…
Although this 1907 law is quite innovative, banking institutions rarely apply it. Because in order to work, women still need the tacit approval of their husbands. However, the banks believe that this authorization can be revoked at any time…
So spousal custody must be abolished?
For his part, the husband is no longer lord and master, but remains the head of the family. As such, he can still oppose his wife’s work or impose a family residence, and he is the one who manages the children’s education.
Did World War II change the situation?
Vichy government, for limit the black market and inflation, wants to make money transactions more transparent and therefore avoid the use of cash. To do this, payment by check is mandatory for a number of financial transactions, including rent payments.
However, with the people at war, the Vichy government through the laws of 1942 and 1943. all for married women to open a bank account (known as a “household account”) and use checks.
This “winning signature” marks a key step in women’s financial independence.
The next step is the one from 1965.
A large survey launched a little earlier at the initiative of the Government shows that 75% of French people do not enter into marriage contracts. And if there is a contract, the spouses opt for a community regime reduced to acquisition.
General de Gaulle saw this as an electoral boon: he made the community regime reduced to acquis a general legal regime by the law of 13 July 1965.
Specifically, what does this reform of the marriage order bring to women?
They can From now on they dispose of the property they had before the marriage as well as the property they acquire during the marriage through their work.
The law from 1965 finally authorizes let all married women work, open accounts and sign checks without their husband’s permission!
160 years after Napoleon’s Civil Code, all women are in an equal position. Their marital status no longer affects their financial independence.