SPAIN: The government of Spain has approved a draft law that aims to increase the presence of women in different decision-making spheres by setting quotas for women in business, politics, and professional organizations.
“This is a useful policy that changes people’s lives. It’s clear that we’ve come a long way… but there is still a lot to do,” said Nadia Calvio, the finance minister of Spain, on Tuesday.
The proposed law requires political parties to run an equal number of male and female candidates in all elections, including local and national ones. In Spain’s congress and senate, women now make up 43% and 40%, respectively.
A cabinet with at least 40% of each gender in it must be appointed by the parties that led the central government. The socialist-led administration of Spain counts 14 women out of its 23 cabinet ministers, or narrowly more than 60%.
Publicly listed businesses will have until the middle of 2024 to guarantee that at least 40% of the “underrepresented sexes” are represented on corporate boards, Calvio said. Businesses with more than 250 workers and a yearly revenue of more than €50 million will have until 2026 to follow suit.
The draft legislation also sets a 40% quota for professional associations and award juries that receive public funding, both of which must be met by the middle of 2026.
The quotas for electoral lists build on legislation already in place in a small number of European nations, such as Slovenia and Portugal, and aim to improve on earlier Spanish legislation that set a quota of 40% of women on electoral lists.
In 1994, Belgium became one of the first nations in the world to enact laws requiring gender quotas at all election levels, stipulating that the candidate list could not consist of more than two-thirds of candidates of either gender.
The proposed legislation was made public ahead of Wednesday’s International Women’s Day, but the Spanish parliament has yet to take a decision on it. The initiative, however, is a nod to how the ruling Socialist party is trying to position itself on women’s rights in a year that is full of elections—municipal, regional, and general.
“Women must hold half of the political and economic power in society if they make up half of the population,” socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday while announcing the legislation.
“There are bound to be many who find this annoying and even wholly disproportionate. Yet in our opinion, it is just justice,” he added.
The legislation is the most recent equality measure that the Socialists and Unidas Podemos, their junior coalition partner, have introduced. Earlier this year, Spain became the first nation in Europe to provide state-funded menstrual leave as part of measures that also loosened restrictions on abortion for 16- and 17-year-olds.
The Spanish federation Fedepe, which advocates for women executives, professionals, and business owners, praised the draught legislation on Tuesday. The head of the organisation, Ana Bujaldón, said, “But we’re waiting to see the fine print and how this is applied.”
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