Spain gets majority-female Cabinet

// 14 April 2008

Spain has a female-majority Cabinet for the first time ever, reports The Guardian.

Newly re-elected prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has handed out top jobs in government to women, including the appointment of Carme Chancon as Spain’s first female defence minister, and María Teresa Fernández de la Vega as vice president.

Jealous yet? Given the current situation, and the poor state of women’s representation in Parliament more generally, it is difficult to imagine women outnumbering men in the UK Cabinet any time soon.

The Independent reports that not everyone has been able to swallow this move without resorting to sexist outbursts, including “a conservative commentator who referred contemptuously in yesterday’s ABC newspaper to ‘ZP’s battalion of inexperienced seamstresses’.”

Incidentally, note the irritating lede given to the Guardian story:

He has always been something of a ladies’ man. But now Spain’s prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has proved his feminist credentials by naming more women than men to his new cabinet.

Ugh. Zapatero, who happily calls himself a feminist, has passed sweeping gender-equality legislation:

Under the new legislation, companies with more than 250 employees will have to negotiate plans to achieve gender equality, for example, by setting a goal for the company boards to be made up of at least 40 percent women within eight years.

The law also provides 13 days of paternity leave for new fathers, which will gradually be expanded to four months by 2013. There will also be special social security benefits for mothers under the age of 21.

He has also toughened up the law on domestic violence and legalised gay marriage. The majority-female cabinet is a direct result of his pro-women, pro-feminist policies, not because he is a “ladies’ man”. What an offensive suggestion.

Photo by doviende, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Laus // Posted 14 April 2008 at 9:30 am

That’s me moving to Spain, then. Wow. I am incredibly jealous; why can’t we have a leader like that? Rubbish.

Feministy // Posted 14 April 2008 at 11:05 am

I read about this too, and I just wish we could see the same sort of progress here. But the patronising and silly reporting style adopted by the Guardian demonstrates how far we’ve got to go.

Redheadinred // Posted 14 April 2008 at 2:13 pm

How wonderful! Course, you know what people (men…) will say… ‘One female-majority cabinet in Spain means the world is turning into a matriarchy! Waah, those feminists.’

Grr, I so want that here! A female defence minister… Kudos to Zapatero for being so open-minded! Hope he’s a feminst… someone who understands that we don’t want a matriarchy, just an equal measure.

julia // Posted 17 April 2008 at 2:50 am

It makes me cry. I used to live in Spain. This is incredible. I had the chance to get residency under amnesty, and I didn’t. I feel like I’m back in the most sexist country in the West, the United States. Where we can’t even have a woman running for president.

DAVID // Posted 1 May 2008 at 3:01 am

A female minister of defence, but women will not fight for thier country, and mens lives are treated as dispensable.

Laura // Posted 1 May 2008 at 9:21 am

David, crazy, I know, but I also think it is terrible that men’s lives are treated as dispensible in the war machine. However, women do fight for their country, and the reason they are not on the front line is not because they won’t but because they are not allowed. Many men do not, and historically have not, wanted women in the army. Female soldiers fighting in the US army in Iraq were sexually assualted and raped by their own comrades. So it really isn’t women you need to be blaming…

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