Feminism becomes one of the main topics in Spanish election campaigns

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By Lucia Riera Bosqued
Feminism becomes one of the main topics in Spanish election campaigns

Feminism has become one of the big buzzwords in the electoral campaign for the snap general elections in Spain taking place on April 28.

Following the strike and mass protests seen nationwide during the International Women’s Day in March, left-wing parties are calling for women’s rights while conservative parties hit back at what they consider "radical feminism".

There have been real advances on key issues such as gender violence and the pay gap, but historical achievements such as legalized abortion may be affected by the rise in support for the far-right party Vox.

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"I think there's confusion with a lot of people who need to know what feminism is, " said one young female voter.

"There's a lot of talk about one out of every three girls killed have not reported any danger, but the other two have and nothing has been done," said another young female voter.

Many political parties have made the fight against gender inequality a central theme of their campaign.

Issues for women at work

Cristina Monge is a political analyst in Barcelona and said, "One of the reasons for the rise of the feminist movement in Spain is a wave of movements that began on the 15th of May and it gathered a society together to be more active and more involved in these movements, and people are making this a priority".

Sexism, wage and job inequalities are still present in Spanish society. Women in Spain earn 15.1% less than men, according to Eurostat.

Hotel waitresses have been protesting every month to fight this inequality.

Ángela Muñoz is a hotel waitress from “Kellys organization” and said, "Not only wage inequality, but specific jobs that make it seem like we're subservient to them and that we're working in exploitative conditions, that don't look like they should be in the 21st century. There are women who are still scrubbing on their knees".

Gender violence

Another of the main pending issues is the fight against gender violence. Condemnations have increased in the last year. The Ana Bella Foundation provides workshops to help women who've been victims of abuse

Beberly Barragán works in Human Resources at the Ana Bella Foundation and said, "Within the pact of state, the main proposals that we've made are mainly based on the fact that a woman does not need to report to the police to be able to enter a shelter. Meanwhile, it's important that they help the labour market, and in addition, it's important that everyone who takes part in the process of helping victims of gender violence, has a very intense form of training."

In addition to complying with the State Pact, the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE) has included in its programme a specific section for a "feminist Spain" which proposes modifying the penal code, provide an equal opportunities law and an anti-trafficking law. And the Unidos Podemos coalition has changed its name to Unidas Podemos, which is now a feminine name.

Cristina Monge added, "The truth is, on the conservative side, it's a little scary to see extreme right-wing proposals from parties such as Vox, questioning basic issues such as the right to abortion, something that's already well established in Spanish society, and now it returns to public debate and questions women's rights. Meanwhile, we have Citizens, who do not want to miss the movement on March the 8th and want to bet on the discourse of liberal feminism, which is something that generates a lot of controversy because from the theoretical and philosophical point of view it's difficult to understand".

Women in the Spanish government

We hardly see women at the top of the lists for Congress. The ruling Socialist Party is the most equal one and has presented itself as the most feminist in Spanish history, as it has 11 females and 6 male ministers in the Cabinet.

"The fact of having parity lists is somewhat anecdotal because it does not result in greater participation of women or the greater presence of women in positions of responsibility within each of the political parties," said Monge.

Whilst we wait to find out how the Chamber of Deputies will be configured and how the complicated game of majorities and pacts will turn out, the only thing that is clear is that the next President of the Spanish Government will once again be a man.