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MODULE 5 - Unit 2



Past and Current state of the women workforce in Spain

The Influence of Religion and Revolution on SpainSpain being a catholic country, it has a strong history of looking to the church to guide its treatment of women which led to them (women) being boxed in the stereotype of mothers and caretakers. Briefly, during the first few decades of the 20th century, this stereotype began to lose its hold on the population. By 1931 Spain produced a constitution in which the sexes were declared equal before the law: they received the right to vote, they could finally run for political office, they obtained the right to divorce. Women could work, in theory, the same as men. In practice, there was a chasm between the written law and the policies that managed to reach women in their homes, where a culture of machismo still dominated.


More catastrophically, what change had happened wouldn’t have time to take root; in 1936 the Spanish Civil War started and at its end Franco and his ultra conservative party took control. One of Franco’s first orders of business was to keep women out of the workplace and at home as caretakers, making women fully dependent on the men in their lives again. Franco’s regime forced people to wait so long for some real progress, that after he died people were willing for some real, radical change, in a sort of knee-jerk reaction. Moreover, Spain was able to re-enter the world stage of politics. This has helped Spain get back on track on the topic of gender equality; many of these advancements have also been influenced by the European Union: one of them is the improved politics on the topic of women’s access to the labour market.


Socio-economic context in the modern to present dayTwo institutions that had an important role in paving the way to improved gender equality in Spain were the EPCA (European Programs for Community Action) which addressed the issues relating to gender-equality policies, and the Women’s Institute (founded in 1983), dealing with women’s issues (especially those having to do with women’s social integration) and suggesting ways to tailor them to Spanish Society. The EPCA main goal was to ease the path for women entering the workforce and eliminate discrimination; a lot of progress was made in a comparatively short time but, like in any other European country, full gender-equality hasn’t been reached yet. According to the Gender Equality Index, Spain has seen little progress, since 2010, in the domain of work (+1.9 points).


Beside that, there’s a large gap in the employment rate between men (52%) and women (39%). And if we take a look at the Time Domain we can see that women, on average, still shoulder a greater part of the burden when it comes to children, elderly or people with disabilities care (40% versus the men’s 28%) and when it comes to household chores and cooking: a staggering 84% for women and exactly half for men (42%). Women with children aged 15 and below are about 7.5 times more likely than men with children of the same age to work part-time, twice as likely to be unemployed. As we can imagine this is a great obstacle in the path to reach a good work-life balance; thankfully Spain has recently implemented a paternity leave which has been shown to increase women’s employment, working hours and earning.Looking at the domain of power, which measures gender-equality in decision-making positions across the political, economic and social spheres, we can see the gap is closing; since 2010 Spain’s score in this domain has improved by 24.3 points and Spain is currently 3rd in Europe with 76.9 points.

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