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Gervais's goals were to obtain better educational and employment opportunities for women and to establish judicial equality for women.
Role expectations for women changed, however, altered by colonial legislation, which liberated captives throughout francophone Africa in 1903, and then by the Mandel Decree of 1939, which fixed the minimum age of marriage at fourteen and made mutual consent a formal necessity for marriage.
The Jacquinot Decree of 1951 invoked the power of the state to protect women from claims to their services--by their own or their husband's family--after marriage.
In 1963 women reacted to the extent and direction of government control by forming the Association of Ivoirian Women (Association des Femmes Ivoiriennes--AFI).
They also persuaded the president to establish the Ministry of Women's Affairs (Ministre de la Condition Fminine) in 1976 and to appoint AFI leader Jeanne Gervais as minister.
At the same time, however, legislation during the 1960s established a husband's right to control much of his wife's property, and it required a woman to obtain her husband's permission to establish a bank account or obtain a job.The government also placed restrictions on a woman's right to divorce, denied legal recognition of matrilineal rights of inheritance (inheritance by a man's nephews before his sons), and finally, condemned the practice of bride-price.Ivory Coast Table of Contents Houphout-Boigny's political style and longevity shaped Ivoirian elites into a wealthy, male, educated social stratum.By the late 1980s, women were beginning to emerge within this group, as education and acculturation enabled them to challenge the established order.
Moreover, it enabled women to obtain a divorce more easily and invalidated in-laws' claims to any bride-price that had been paid to a woman's family to legitimize the marriage.This decree also recognized monogamy as the only legal form of marriage and allowed couples to marry without parental consent.