The Fragility of Gender Equality Policies in Spain
Within the last decade, Spain has become a model in legislative policies for gender equality at the international level. However, the economic crisis has led to a growth in inequality, which has revealed the weaknesses of the adopted instruments. Despite the large amount of legislation in this area, the social reality has not changed at all, even experiencing a setback over the past few years. This situation was exposed in our country by a report issued in 2015 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This report showed the negative effects of the economic crisis and austerity policies on women, even in a context necessitating increased efforts towards women’s rights. Therefore, it is imperative that the concept of gender mainstreaming and the adoption of instruments of “hard law” be revisited. The goal should be to achieve gender justice based on three elements—distribution, identity, and representation—and a real parity democracy.
The Spanish experience of recent years exposes the weaknesses and the challenges in gender equality policies. We can individualize the following objectives for a constitutional system that takes seriously gender equality:
- It is necessary that the principle of parity democracy be constitutionalized
- The aim of equality does not only have a quantitative dimension: women and men should be equal in the access to power and its exercise, but also that we have to review the status of citizenship itself
- The qualitative dimension of parity democracy needs to ensure not only the presence of women in the exercise of power, but also their ability to influence political decision-making processes
- Parity should be incorporated into constitutional regimes as a principle, that is, as an “optimization mandate”, which should consequently govern the actions of all public branches and, therefore, impact citizenship and relationships between individuals (e.g., in the field of market or labor relations)
- it is necessary to consolidate a family model and productive relationships in which there is no longer a separation between the roles of the provider and caregiver, so that men and women are “supporters/caregivers in equality”