The wearing of tefillin by women has reached an epic point with one of the most highly regarded day schools in New York allowing female students ”permission” to wear tefillin (“Ramaz Would Permit Girls To Wear Tefillin,” Jan. 24).
The obligation/mitzvah is a requirement for all males. The actual wearing of tefillin began in 3 BCE with the wearing of amulets and pieces of parchment on the head and arms. The tefillin as we know it today did not take hold until the Tananim era. During the medieval period women took to wearing tefillin in France and Germany. It is alleged that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin even though there is no evidence that they did so.
However, the grandson of Rashi, Rabbenu Tam, said that if a woman wants to perform mitzvot that she is not obligated to do, including tefillin, she must say a bracha.