Early Spanish feminism was weak and conservative, although socialist and anarchist feminism was important between 1920 and 1930. The greatest reforms concerning women's emancipation were introduced in the 1931 constitution, which stipulated absolute equality before the law (universal male suffrage dates from 1890). In 1933 women voted for the first time, but they were blamed for the fact that a right-wing government came to power. After the outbreak of the Civil War women's groups, newspapers, and conferences flourished, but once Franco came to power, women (like men) lost all their civil rights in the authoritarian, Catholic regime. Feminist organizations were out of the question. The official women's organization, the Sección femenina (Women's Section) of the National Movement was run by Pilar Primo de Rivera, the sister of the leader of the Falange. In 1938 divorce and civil marriage were outlawed in the Nationalist zone, and in 1941 abortion was made a criminal offence. In the 1960s there were no feminist organizations in Spain although the conditions for the future success of feminism (industrialization, consumerism, secularization and higher education) were being laid down, and women became active in trade unions, political parties and housewives" associations (both legal and illegal).
   The women's movement (second-wave feminism) emerged late in Spain compared with the rest of Europe. It blossomed rapidly after Franco's death between 1975 and 1979, then split into small groups. After the Socialist victory of 1982 it lost its radical edge and political leverage.
   Throughout the 1970s second-wave feminism was closely involved with the anti-Franco and anticapitalist movements, with the result that feminism was not a priority on the programmes of the political parties introducing key democratic reforms. Feminist objectives had always been subordinated to class politics in Spain. This led to the phenomenon of double militancy (women participating in both left-wing political parties and feminist or women's organizations) which became both Spanish femin-ism's strength and its Achilles" heel. In 1975, International Women's Year, the Sección femenina was charged with the official representation of Spanish women. In response to the lack of activity a non-governmental organization was set up in Barcelona to prepare for the celebrations. This gave rise to the first Jornadas Nacionales por la Liberación de la Mujer (National Women's Liberation Conference), celebrated illegally in Madrid in December 1975 (just over two weeks after Franco's death). It was attended by five hundred women from all over Spain and was the first feminist meeting of its kind since 1939. It was followed by the Les Jornades Catalanes de la Dona (Catalan Women's Conference) held in October 1976. The focus of this conference was still primarily anti-capitalist. Shortly after, the Associació Catalana de la Dona (Catalan Women's Association) was founded; it was the first democratic, independent, feminist organization embracing women of all classes and ideologies. The first militant feminist magazine, Vindicación feminista (Feminist Vindication), was started up by Lidia Falcón in 1976. After the elections of June 1977, twenty-two new women MPs took their seats in parliament, including a PSOE feminist, Carlota Bustelo. However, in 1977 the Catalan women's movement split leading to the founding of the Revolutionary Feminist Organization and, in 1979, to the Marxist-feminist Feminist Party of Spain, led by Lidia Falcón. After the constitution of 1978, which declared women's equality before the law, it seemed feminism could free itself from the political parties of the left and go its own way. The Jornadas de Granada (Granada Conference) of 1979, attended by 3,000 women, opted for radical or difference feminism in order to distance feminism from political parties. From then on a rift opened between difference feminism (based on grass-roots, independent collectives) and equality or Marxist/ Socialist feminism. Radical feminism was concerned with the individual objectives, personal problems and sexuality of women and aimed to reform patriarchal ways of thinking rather than encourage collective effort against capitalism. After 1979 the women's movement fragmented, reflecting diverse ideologies and strategies and regional and national cultural differences. Meanwhile, women continued to be very active in the trade unions, particularly Comisiones Obreras (CC OO). Between 1981 and 1984 the annual Jornadas de Mujeres Independientes (Independent Feminists" Conference) took place, although the aims of the radical feminists (to encourage selfawareness, implement non-hierarchical organization and reject dual activism) were vague.
   The Jornadas Diez años de lucha del Movimiento Feminista (Ten Years of Struggle by the Feminist Movement Conference) was held in Barcelona in 1985. Meanwhile, democratic reforms (for example, the legalization of contraception (1978) and laws ensuring equality in the workplace (1980)) were taking the edge off political feminism. In 1981 the mutual assent divorce law was approved, although there were no provisions for alimony payment, and abortion was depenalized in 1983, although the abortion law—delayed until 1985—was restrictive and made no provision for clinical facilities. The Instituto de la Mujer (Women's Institute), now a part of the Ministry of Social Services, was established in 1983 with a budget of £3.5m to encourage equal opportunities and legal equality in all aspects of women's lives. In a 1987 catalogue, however, only seventy out of six hundred women's organizations defined themselves as feminist. In 1989 there were nine hundred registered women's groups in Spain but only a tiny percentage of the female population belonged to such a group. In 1994 women MPs constituted only 16 percent of the total in parliament.
   Spanish feminism was undermined because of the lack of a suffragette movement, the lack of a democratic institutional framework, and the rejection of women-only sex-segregated organizations. Key reforms regarding women's emancipation are seen to have been the work of the centre-left rather than the women's movement. The Socialist victory of 1982 saw the implementation of much necessary legislation but, arguably, the greatest obstacle to women's independence in the 1990s was women's unemployment. In 1987 Spain had the largest percentages of unemployed and non-active women in the EU.
   Further reading
   - Acklesberg, M.A. (1991) Free Women of Spain. Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women, Pennsylvania: Indiana University Press (one of the most scholarly studies of this topic).
   - Brooksbank Jones, A. (1997) Women in Contemporary Spain, Manchester: Manchester University Press (the most thorough and detailed account concentrating on the transition period until the mid-1990s).
   - Graham, H. and Labanyi, J. (1995) Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press (several good essays on women in Spain).
   - Scanlon, G. (1976) Polémica feminista en la España contemporánea (1868-1974), Madrid: Siglo XXI (a detailed survey of feminism from 1868 until Franco's death; the original thesis is available in English in the University of London).
   - Slaughter, J. and Kern R. (eds) (1981) European Women on the Left, Westport, CT: Greenwood (includes chapters on socialist Margarita Nelken and anarchist Federica Montseny).
   - Threlfall, M. (1985) "The Women's Movement in Spain", New Left Review, 151: 44–73 (the most complete short overview of the Spanish women's movement between 1975 and 1985).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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