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Spanish PM Sanchez announces planned gender-parity law

March 4, 2023

Spain's government is planning legislation to advance gender equality. The law has been proposed ahead of International Women's Day.

Feminist protest on International Women's Day in Seville
The government wants to have the legislation approved by the cabinet on the eve of International Women's DayImage: Ángel García/Pacific Press/picture alliance

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced a plan to pass new legislation to require a more equal representation of women in political, business and public fields.

Sanchez was speaking during a rally held by his Socialist Party (PSOE) in Madrid on Saturday. The Equal Representation Law will be up for Cabinet approval on Tuesday ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.

The prime minister described the left-wing coalition government's plan as "not only taking a step in favor of feminism, but in favor of Spanish society as a whole."

What will the law include?

The law will demand that listed companies with more than 250 employees and an annual turnover of over €50 million (roughly $53 million) assign women to at least 40% of management roles.

Women lawmakers currently make up 44% of Congress and 39% of the Senate. The proposed law will require that these are both brought up to 50% with parties obliged to put up an equal number of male and female candidates to stand during elections.

It will apply to elections at all levels, from municipal votes to the European Parliament.

Professional associations and juries that give out awards financed with public money will also have to make sure women make up at least 40% of their boards.

"This Tuesday we will break the glass ceiling forever," Sanchez said. "No step backward in the defense of equality."

Coalition's progress under pressure

The leftist coalition government, which includes PSOE and Podemos (We Can), has driven through a series of laws establishing equality measures.

The parliament passed legislation in February boosting transgender rights, easing access to abortion and granting menstrual leave to women suffering from severe period pain.

The coalition government has come under pressure for another law — the Sexual Consent Law or the "Only Yes Means Yes Law" — which sought to help victims of sexual assault but has inadvertently resulted in more than 700 offenders having their sentences reduced on technicalities, as well as 74 being released early.

PSOE is hoping to close the loophole, but Podemos says the problem lies with conservative judges misinterpreting the law and argues that any change would mean backpedaling on progress.

ab/msh (Reuters, EFE, dpa)