Mass marches for International Women’s Day take over Spanish cities

TENS of thousands of ladies and a significant minority of gentlemen took to the streets this evening (Wednesday) to mark International Women’s Day, celebrated worldwide every March 8.

Madrid city hall and the Cibeles fountain were lit up in purple, and marchers carried banners calling for full equality between the sexes in every country, and railing against Spain’s domestic violence problem.

The crowds set off from the Cibeles to the rhythm of African drums and the march concluded in the Plaza de España, having taken over the Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía en route, at around 21.00 with 25 different manifestos being read out.

Practically every town and city in Spain organised a march, a gathering or an awards ceremony to mark the day.

Isn’t feminism redundant in the western world?
Equality between men and women has mostly been achieved in the western world, at least in terms of legislation and general social influence, although a closer look reveals that at grass roots and institutional levels, more work needs to be done.

Women’s rights activists who are criticised for ‘wanting special privileges’ for their sex point out that even though equality is practically a reality in the first world, it took centuries of fighting to get there and has only really been the case in today’s young adults’ lifetime.

They also highlight that women still face ‘everyday sexism’, such as cat-calling and crude comments in the streets and unwelcome advances from men, the attitude that a woman dressed in skimpy clothing is considered to be ‘up for it’ and such attire means she is less safe walking alone at night – something men do not normally need to worry about so much.

Spain is far less tolerant of this behaviour than many other western countries, and it is gradually becoming at least socially unacceptable and even treated as a criminal offence.

Spain: An example of professional and political equality, but still not quite there
The gender pay gap is still believed to be present in some minority areas in the EU – as was recently discussed in a Parliamentary meeting in Brussels – although this is increasingly because of jobs more favoured by women being less-well remunerated than those preferred by men, rather than the illegal practice of a male and female in the same role and with identical qualilfications and experience being paid different wages.

Women and men are guaranteed equal access to the same jobs, although gender differences mean they often continue to gravitate towards separate professions, according to research.

This said, roles in health and social care and education, held in the majority by women, and top financial or management jobs, statistically held more by men, both require exceptional talent and superior qualilfications of similar prestige but the latter attract higher wages.

However, anecdotal evidence shows Spain has one of the EU’s highest gender-independent workforce: nurses, secretaries, teachers, academics, paediatricians and psychologists are just as likely to be male, whilst builders, architects, judges, pilots, engineers, and electronics, science, IT and telecommunications jobs are frequently held by women.

Spain also has one of the most equal splits of male and female politicians, although this has yet to filter through to the world of top corporate management – and, to date, Spain has never had a female president, or even presidential candidate.

According to the European Union, full gender equality in all companies would increase Spain’s GDP by 12% by the year 2050.

Published Think Spain08 March 2017

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