Mē Luisa Castro Fonseca
Mē Luisa Castro Fonseca

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Mē Luisa Castro Fonseca

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
The fact that I was born in 1946 during a dictatorship into a family that was on the losing side of the Civil War. My family lost many members because they were shot by firing squads. Since I was a child, I made up my mind to fight for democratic freedom in this country.

2. Do/did you have a role model?
My father and mother. My mother was an anarchist and she educated me to refrain from hating and to avoid repeating past history. She made it clear that I shouldn't forget history so I would not to repeat the same mistakes.

3. Is there a tradition of political involvement/policy - making in your family?
In my family, my mother was an anarchist and my father a peasant, and I, the first communist. Even though my family name is in the history books due to the relevance of some of my mother's brothers as CNT (trade union) leaders, I don't think it was family tradition that drove me to politics. Rather, it was the circumstances of spending the time of my childhood and youth during a dictatorship, as I said before.

4. Did you participate in grass roots political activity before getting involved with political parties (citizen rights movements, parents associations, etc.)? If so, in which function, institution and when did your political career begin? How did the change from grass roots movements to a political party occur?
My first activity was in the Catholic Youth. This group talked about freedom and questioned the existing dictatorship. That is where I started militating in 1964.

5. Were there disruptions in your political career?
I don't approach my political work as a career. I've been working in social movements all my life. I have two main commitments: the gender commitment, in which I always defended the rights of women, and the class commitment. I upheld these two commitments during my period in the Madrid Town Hall and now in Parliament, in full awareness that I'm in service to the community.

6. Were there disruptions in your biography that have had an impact on your political career? Have your objectives changed during your political career?
My activity never ceased throughout 38 years, even when I've had many painful experiences that sometimes kept me to some extent away. However, I never interrupted my political activity completely.

7. How and why did your political objectives change during your political career?
They have not changed. I continue to fight for equality, the redistribution of wealth, for the underprivileged, in short for a society where all men and women can live together on the basis of mutual respect.

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Party Affiliation

1. Motivation for joining a political party?
The reasons lie in my family circumstances as I mentioned above and in my endeavour to defend freedom and peaceful existence in a democratic system.

2. Which party and when?
I became a member of the Communist Party of Spain 38 years ago and of Izquierda Unida since its foundation.

3. Does your party have equal opportunity regulations?
We were the first democratic party in this country to establish positive discrimination in the quota system to facilitate access by women to decision-making levels in the party's committees and election lists.

4. Which office/function did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after joining? How did you get into running for office?
The first public position I held was as a councillor of the Madrid City Hall in the 1991 elections. I held the post until April 2000, when I was elected to the Spanish Parliament.

5. Did you have mentors within your party?
I've always defended equal opportunities and I don't accept mentors. In my party, I enjoy moral and political authority that comes from my militancy, my responsibility and my solidarity.

6. Have you ever changed party affiliation?
No.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. How does your profession relate to your political work?
Actually, I changed my profession to render better service to women. I'm a technician in public health, and a pioneer in primary attention programmes. I've made a considerable contribution towards the acceptance of abortion as a right and to end the shameful exodus of women to Holland, Portugal or France to interrupt their pregnancies.

2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
Technician in Public Health.

3. In what kinds of jobs did you work?
I work in everything related to the improvement of women's health, family planning and mother/infant health.

4. Do you link your professional and political career?
Yes, as I said before I changed my profession to render better service to women.

5. In what areas do you see your special competencies?
In social politics mainly, where I've had diverse responsibilities.

6. What are your political priorities?
The defence and consolidation of equal opportunities.

7. Main fields of action?
Everybody knows that in politics women have posts that are comparable to the jobs they do in private life. In the City Hall, I was rapporteur for the health and consumer areas, as well as the equal opportunities and employment and environment areas.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
The emancipation of humanity, freedom and consolidation of equal opportunities for men and women. These are the pillars for democratic sharing between citizens.

2. How and why have your political objectives changed during your political career?
There wasn't any change. My objectives have always been to fight for a fair society extending beyond our borders. In this day and age, it would be rather provincial, politically speaking, to forget the extent of injustice in Europe itself.

3. Do you believe that the equal opportunities strategies in Spain have a bearing on the participation of women in decision-making? (quotas, legislation on equal opportunities, etc.)
Absolutely. These strategies facilitated women to gain access to managing posts in political parties and participating in election lists under equal conditions with men.

4. Did you benefit from these strategies?
All women have benefited from that strategy. First and foremost, I'm a feminist; secondly, a member of a political party. I began to work for the rights of women since I was 16. I fought for the participation of all women, not only the most relevant ones in each party.

5. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making?
Of course, there is discrimination, both direct and indirect.

6. What keeps women away from politics?
The patriarchal system does not facilitate the participation of women. I would add that the political model excludes women in a subliminal way because it doesn't take into account that, however much we may dream about an equal society, women are burdened with obligations such as educating the children and caring for the elderly. We must implement a participation model, which encourages the participation of all social groups.

7. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
Mainly male chauvinism. Although misogynism and chauvinism are no longer fashionable in Europe, in Spain we have a conservative government that talks a lot about women, but fails to implement active equal opportunities policies. It is high time for Spain to have women in the main cabinet posts like Economy instead of the usual posts.

8. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
My main obstacle was male chauvinism because men from all political parties were educated with the same cultural patterns and therefore has a strong conditioning influence.

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