April 13. 2024. 5:28

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Spain to approve new gender parity law to break ‘glass ceiling’

The government will approve a new law on equal representation of women and men in decision-making bodies, including the Council of Ministers and the boards of directors of large companies, at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Sunday.

The new norm sends a “clear message” that there will be “not one step backwards” in defending equality between men and women in Spain, Sánchez stressed at a socialist rally commemorating International Women’s Day.

The new law will guarantee parity regardless of the “political sensitivity” of whoever heads the executive after the general election in December, Sánchez added.

Besides the new law on parity, Tuesday will also have parliament vote on the reform of a controversial sexual assault law that Sanchez’s PSOE party has pushed.

PSOE may fail to get the backing from its coalition partner Unidas Podemos, however, as it will only offer its support if its positions are incorporated in the final text – tensions that could lead to a new crisis within the coalition, less than four months before a crucial regional and municipal election in the country.

The new gender parity law provides that women must make up at least 40% of the board of directors of any listed company or public interest entity with more than 250 workers and an annual turnover of €50 million.

The measure also applies to any governing board of professional associations and juries that award prizes or recognitions financed with public money.

Sanchez fiercely defended having a gender quota system, something which, he said, “annoys the right wing a lot”, recalling that when this idea began to take shape almost 10 years ago, the EU average for women on company boards was only 13%.

Spain has since made progress, with public and private companies having levels exceeding 30%, while countries that have done nothing to promote equality only saw an increase of about three points (from 13-16%), Sanchez said.

Meanwhile, Equality Minister Irene Montero (Unidas Podemos/EU Left), warned that to achieve real parity in public institutions it is necessary for “feminists to fill the institutions”.

“We can’t believe that it is a feminist achievement that (Isabel Díaz) Ayuso (PP/EPP) is president of the Comunidad de Madrid (Madrid’s regional executive)”, Montero stressed on Saturday at a Podemos rally, four days before International Women’s Day.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)