Spain’s prime minister is pushing to give women more seats at the table ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.
During a rally for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party on Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez introduced a new law that would establish a gender quota system across Spain’s public and private spheres, ensuring both women (and men) account for no fewer than 40% of any governing body or enterprise.
“If they represent half of society, half of the political and economic power has to be women’s,” Sanchez said, calling the legislation a “step in…in favor of Spanish society as a whole.”
In the realm of politics, the law calls for an equal number of male and female candidates in elections. Currently, women make up 44% and 39% of Spain’s Congress and Senate, respectively.
Businesses aren’t exempted in the proposed law. Women hold 30% of leadership positions in both public and private companies in Spain, but Sanchez’s bill proposes that they must account for 40% of management in companies employing more than 250 people or worth €50 million – or approximately $53 million – or more.
The draft of the law will likely be approved by the cabinet on Tuesday before heading to the parliament for debate. While Sanchez’s party holds the most seats, without the support of the United We Can party, a partner in his ruling coalition who have critiqued it as less than fundamental, the bill could face opposition.
However, this legislation is hardly the country’s first foray into gender equity – but it’s possibly its most direct.
In 2007, the country’s Organic Law for Effective Equality between Women and Men – or simply, the Equality Law – went into place, instituting a swath of gender-related mandates. The Equality Law notably established paternity leave and required government at the local, regional and national levels, as well as large enterprises, to create equality plans for increasing female participation.
Last month, the Spanish parliament passed multiple laws aimed at creating a more equal playing field for women – from expanding abortion access for 16- and 17-year-olds to establishing paid menstrual leave, making Spain one of only a handful of countries, and the first European one, to do so.
In mandating representation, the new Equal Representation Law would finish the work begun by its predecessor. Still, despite progress, some feel the new law alone isn’t enough.
Irene Montero, Spain’s minister of equality and the spearhead of its newly-minted menstrual leave policies, believes that true gender parity is only possible if “feminists fill the institutions.”
Source: US News