1990 to 1999
"I hate gynaecologists! A man who can always look you in the vagina but never in the eye!. - Patsy (Joanna Lumley) in Absolutely Fabulous, written by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French
Picture from Absolutely Fabulous box set still on sale now (it's a must have!)
This is the first decade that girls academic achievements outstripped boys. Cultural icons like the Spice Girls with their message of “Girl Power” helped, along with trail blazers women could relate to like; In 1991 Helen Sharman PHD becoming Britain’s first astronaut. Rebecca Stephens and Alison Hargreaves reaching the summit of Everest (1993&1995) and Caroline Hamilton heading the first all-women expedition to the North Pole in 1997, it had became clear that women had the determination, drive and were just as capable as men of achieving anything they set their minds to.
1990 independent taxation for married women was introduced and the tax office for the first time addressed married women’s tax affairs to the woman.
1991 the Lord Chief Justice removed a wife’s implied consent to sex and the legal immunity for men who raped their wives, it took another three years but this was finally incorporated as part of the Criminal Justice Act in 1994 after 15 years of campaigning by women's groups.
Opportunity 2000 also set up in 1991 invited employers to sign up to the campaign highlighting that increasing quality and quantity of women’s employment opportunities not only heighten companies performance but gives them a competitive edge.
After 17 years of debate and a very narrow margin (2 votes) the General Synod, Church of England’s parliament allows women to become ordained as Anglican Priests in 1992, women were by this time permitted to become Deacon’s (perform baptisms, burials and marriages). It took another two years but thirty two women Priests were ordained in 1994.
In 1992 Absolutely Fabulous a ground breaking TV parody sitcom of the 90’s woman, blazed its way onto our screens and women were never quite seen the same way on TV again. Licentious without reprisal, outrageously funny and unapologetic Dawn French & Joanna Lumley smashed through social conventions set up for women on TV and in the media, whilst still being hilariously relevant to women and proved once and for all that women can be funny.
Again in ’92, Betty Boothroyd became the first woman speaker in the House of Commons.
The May General Election in 1997 saw the Labour Party adopt women-only shortlists enabling 120 women being returned to parliament. This practice was declared illegal directly after.