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Home News End of macho Spain with new sex equality law?

End of macho Spain with new sex equality law?

Published on 16/03/2007

MADRID – Spain ushered in a new era with a new sex equality bill which will enforce quotas for women in companies and on electoral lists.

The gender equality bill includes parity on the electoral lists and stipulates that by 2015, women should occupy 40 percent of the seats on the boards of the country’s biggest corporations.

The measure passed by a vote of 192 in favor but with the abstention of the main opposition conservative Popular Party, whose leader, Mariano Rajoy, said that “they can’t impose quotas on anyone” to achieve equality.

The law includes measures such as 15 days of paternity leave, which will be expanded to one month once an employee has six years in the job and, in the case of the births of premature babies, maternity leave will be increased to start at the moment when the infant leaves the hospital.

In addition, it includes the right to a reduction in the length of the workday, it increases unpaid leave to care for a sick relative from one year to two, and it sets forth that sexual harassment is any verbal or physical behavior that attacks a person’s dignity.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero addressed Parliament to emphasize that the law is designed to “do justice for women.”

Zapatero said the new law was one of the “most important … (and) happiest (days) in the legislature,” which he dedicated to all women, and he emphasized that their incorporation into the boards of firms “will result – without any doubt – in the improved functioning of our large business corporations.”

Rajoy justified the PP’s abstention by saying that the party’s members do not believe in “quotas” but rather in “equality of opportunity” among men and women.

The PP’s Susana Camarero said that the premier is “an armchair feminist” who doesn’t listen to women and that the law’s text is based on an “outdated” policy of parity.

Speaking for the United Left coalition, Carme Garcia acknowledged that the law was “too short” and did not resolve “all” problems but added that it moved forward with modifying the country’s social, economic and judicial structures that had made possible discrimination against women in the first place.

Spain’s biggest labor federations, the CCOO and UGT, view the measure as positive for society and called it a very useful tool within the context of collective bargaining to correct situations of discrimination against women in the labor market.

One provision of the law deals with the communications media, mandating that the state radio and television broadcaster, RTVE, and Spain’s international news agency, Efe, promote the incorporation of women into positions of managerial and professional responsibility.

They will also have to adequately reflect the presence of women in all areas of social life and not use sexist language.

In addition, they will also have to collaborate with institutional campaigns directed at fostering equality among men and women and erradicating sexual violence.

Zapatero, meanwhile, was acclaimed by a group of Socialist lawmakers and representatives of women’s associations, who shouted all together “Ista, ista, ista, Zapatero feminista!” and had photographs taken with the premier on the main steps of Parliament.

The prime minister said on 8 March, on International Women’s Day, that he was “a totally convinced feminist” and harboured the “certainty” that when injustice occurs “there are no winners or losers; all human beings lose.”

“I’m a lucky political leader. In my government there are just as many women as men and I’ve been even luckier for the past few days because the board of the (Socialist) party I lead has more women than men,” he said on that occasion.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news