My dissertation seeks to explain why and how legal rules that restrict women's rights have been reformed in Latin America since the 1960s. Although women were granted the right to vote in most countries in the 1930s and 1940s, laws remained in place that limited their freedoms. These laws, which included prohibitions on divorce, limitations on the freedom of married women, and restrictions on contraceptive distribution and use, structured the private sphere of women's lives so as to constrain their public opportunities to serve as citizens, economic actors, and political leaders. Using material from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, I focus on key reforms initiated by both military and democratic governments in order to conduct a comparative analysis into the political conditions that facilitate an expansion of women's rights. My study is centered on two questions: 1) What explains the puzzle of military governments initiating legislation to expand women's rights? 2) What explains the variation in the performance of democratic governments in women's rights legislation?