1. Electoral system and party system and their impact on women
2. History of Women's suffrage
3. Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and
women in political decision-making
a. Infrastructure responsible for EO
b. Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy
c. Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics
*sources: Employment in Europe 1999 and Schlüsselzahlen zum Bildungswesen
in der Europäischen Union, Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der
Europäischen Gemeinschaft 1997, Luxemburg; European Database - Women
in Decision-Making and data by transnational experts.
|Women in Politics:
|Women's suffrage active:
|Women's suffrage passive:
|1st Women in parliament:
|| 1977 alltogether 22 women
|1st Women in government:
|| 1936- 1937 Federica Montserny Ma?,
Ministry of Health and Social Assistance
|1st Ministry on women's issues:
|| 1983 Women's Institute, first reported
to the Ministry of Culture, then to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
|% women in national Parliament:
|% women in national Government:
||Congress of Deputies:
350 deputies; 348 elected by party list vote from 50 multi-seat (min.2) provinces,
2 elected by plurality vote from 2 single-seat constituencies (Ceuta, Melilla).
||No quota regulation legislation.
||Since 1988 a quarter min. within the Socialists,
since the 90ies all other parties introduced quota regulations.
|% women with secondary degree:
||60,4 % (1996-1997)
|% women with degree in higher education:
|% women in senior management:
|Women's employment rates:
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1. Electoral system and party system
and their impact on women|
Starting from international recommendations to apply affirmative action,
Spanish political parties began to consider naming women to posts of
executive responsibility within their party hierarchies. The quotas
adopted by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and their subsequent
influence on other political organizations led to a notable representation
of women in both houses of Congress as well as in positions of
responsibility in the State Administration. This reality within the
different political organizations has triggered a debate aimed at
reforming the electoral system in order to establish the degree of
representation that will be accorded to women. To date, the positive
actions carried out by the political parties in this regard have not
been reflected in electoral law. Today in Spain, neither the electoral
system nor the party system favours the participation of women on an equal
footing with men.
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Although the roots of women's demands to be heard can be traced back
to the beginning of history itself, world-wide, the twentieth century
would prove fundamental for subsequent generations due to the birth of
the feminist movement as the driving force behind improvements in the
social conditions of women. In Spain, which can boast of few antecedents
in the suffragist struggle, demands for the right to vote began to take
shape during the 2nd Republic (1931), when women started entering the
industrial workforce and began participating in political endeavours.
At this time, a reform of the electoral law recognized a woman's right
to be elected to public office, and the government expressed its desire
to incorporate women into the new republican project. Women first joined
political parties during the Civil War years, acting as both base militants
as well as leaders in positions of political responsibility. With the end
of the war, however, a "period of exile and silence for the women's movement
and of regression in legal regulations" descended upon the country during
the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Until the first democratic elections
were held in 1977, the many claims and demands made by feminists and women's
movements over the preceding decades were not taken into consideration.
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3. Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political
The Spanish Constitution (1978), in Articles 9.2 and 14, establishes freedom
and equality of rights for all Spaniards...and non-discrimination for reasons
of gender. The implementation and development of the Constitution led to the
need within political parties to establish a legal framework for the
incorporation of women into positions of decision-making. In Spain, the female
members of the PSOE, supported by women's organizations, led delegates to its
31st Congress (1988) to demand that a quota of 25% be instituted. Although a
step forward, this achievement did not suppose, in practice, the appointment
of women to 25% of all positions of responsibility. Still, the measure created
social awareness, and led other organizations, both progressive as well as
conservative ones, to include women in their decision-making structures and
Starting with the Athens Conference, women
began questioning the democratic system and demanding parity, arguing
that society cannot be considered democratic as long as 52% of those in
public and political life are not female, a figure that corresponds with
social demographic reality. This claim would be included in the platform
of the 34th Congress of the Socialist Party (1997), which confirmed the
"democracy of parity", in which the representation of each gender would
be not less than 40% or more than 60% in any governing, controlling or
executive body of the party. These percentages would also be applicable
to party voting lists as well as posts of political responsibility overall.
Substantial reforms have also been made in the Penal and Civil Codes,
situating women on a plane of legal and formal equality with men, although
these have not transcended to the daily lives and women and their social,
professional and political realities.
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a. Infrastructure responsible for EO
Although movements of women affiliated with progressive political
parties and independent feminist platforms fought for a ministry specific
to women, Law 16/83 limited itself to setting up a "Women's Institute
(Instituto de la Mujer), initially part of the Ministry of Culture and
later, in 1988, an autonomous body that would answer directly to the
Minister of Social Affairs.
The action criterion on which the
Women's Institute is based is the principle of equality in all actions.
A Governing Board made up by representatives from each Ministry, in order
to promote equal opportunities in all policies and projects that arise out
of their many departments and sections, runs it.
The first director
of the Institute was Carlota Bustelo, who lent ideological content to it
and set up three General Vice-directorates and the General Secretariat.
These political bodies generate the policies of equality that other
institutions must follow.
One of the functions of the Women's
Institute is to study the legal and sociological situation of women
and monitor the application of current regulations and legislation.
The consulting it provides to Ministries on their efforts to achieve
these goals is also important, as are its efforts to foster the measures
needed to eliminate discrimination for reasons of gender. In addition,
the Institute has prepared three Equality Plans, in line with the legal
development of the European Union, which has implemented action programmes
aimed at furthering equal opportunity.
At present, the Institute
is part of the Under-Secretary's Office for Social Affairs of the
Ministry of Social Affairs. Its ability to make legal demands on the
different ministries led in its time to the concept of transversality,
now are reality as confirmed by the 4th World Women's Conference.
Nevertheless, the problems involved in implementing these agreements
and laws into a society still made up in part by clearly sexist
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b. Women's participation in politics as a
governmental objective and strategy
Since 1978, the strategy of women in Spain has been directed
at accessing positions of decision-making in the different governments.
Nevertheless, the initial result of these efforts, supported by the
strategy of quotas and other demands, was the appointment of women
to head up only two ministries, both in some way related to the
traditional concept of the "woman": the Ministries of Culture and
of Social Affairs. A quantitative change would not be observed until
after the elections of 1992, when women were appointed to head up
three ministries, act as the Government Spokesperson and occupy 59
upper-level posts in the national administration. That same year, a
woman would also be named to the General Council of the Judiciary
(Consejo General del Poder Judicial) for the first time. In 1996, the
number of women holding positions of responsibility in local administrations
rose, women were heading up three ministries -Justice, the Environment and
Culture- and a woman was elected to preside over the Senate of the nation.
In the latest elections, held in March 2000, the participation of women in
the electoral lists surpassed the 40-60% participation quota for women,
producing the so-called "zipper" concept. Any valuation of the political
participation of women must be positive, since its evolution over time
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c. Actions initiated to promote women's
participation in politics
Statistical data show that the scant presence of women in the upper
echelons of organizations is a problem of social organization that
must be tackled. The social pressure exerted by different sectors of
society has been the first step towards creating social awareness and
balancing existing inequalities. The government has incorporated
affirmative action into its policies aimed at establishing equal
opportunities through measures that allow correcting the discrimination
arising out of social practices or systems.
Several of these
positive actions that merit special mention include campaigns aimed
at distributing responsibilities, specific measures for increasing the
presence of women in all strata of society (training courses, reductions
in Social Insurance fees, etc.) and the introduction of gender mainstreaming
into all government policies, programmes and projects for promoting the
equality of men and women.
Female experts in gender issues have
researched and published sociological data, statistics and studies that
have helped executive and political decision-making bodies to gain awareness
of social reality. They have also fostered programmes and projects aimed at
promoting the participation of women in politics.
The three Equality
Plans prepared by the Women's Institute have also contributed to helping
overcome inequalities and encouraging the participation of women. The First
Plan (1988-1990) focused on the elimination of legal inequalities; the Second
Plan (1993-95), centred on the development of affirmative actions; and the
Third Plan (1997-2000) develops the principal of integration from the perspective
of mainstreaming set out at the Beijing Summit and in the 4th Community Action
In addition, the funding of NGOs has permitted these
organizations to carry out awareness enhancement campaigns regarding the need
for women to participate in politics. Statistical studies on the number of women
in positions of responsibility, which have been carried out by NGOs at the request
of the government, have been one means for determining the reality of the situation.
This has enabled the government to be able to take the necessary steps
(educational and informative campaigns) towards ascertaining defects and
analysing the scant presence of women in different decision-making bodies.
Finally, the broad dissemination of the "New Social Contract", which emphasizes
the concept of sharing family and work responsibilities in both in the public
as well as private realms, should also be highlighted.
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