Instituto de la Mujer

Instituto de la Mujer
   From 1983 to 1996 the Institute was the central government department responsible for promoting gender equality under the socialist PSOE administration. Responding to pressure from the party's feminist caucus Mujer y Socialismo (Women and Socialism), the socialist government established the Institute (Law 16/1983) as an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture. In 1988 it became a key arm of the new ministry of social affairs. Its functions were to promote the social advancement of women and gender equality in politics, employment, health, education, the family and the media.
   The Institute obtained cabinet approval for its detailed Equality Plans (1988–90 and 1993–5) so as to ensure their implementation throughout the administration. Though the goal of equality was advanced through reform of laws governing abortion, rape, marriage, divorce, pensions, maternity leave and education, the government failed to amend its restrictive abortion law to include social grounds before it lost power. The Institute supported similar bodies set up in the seventeen autonomous governments and also funded local women's associations, to which it gave between 140 and 260 grants per year. It ran eleven women's advice bureaux which dealt with over 50,000 consultations, as well as a 24-hour hotline which took 80,000 calls per year. It ran television campaigns challenging the gender stereotyping of jobs and used street hoardings to promote safe sex through condom use, with the slogan: "Póntelo, pónselo" ("Put it on, put it on him"). Its social programmes ranged from creating refuges against domestic violence, to training women in rural communities, to running holiday camps for single mothers and their children. The Institute commissioned research to identify the needs of particular groups such as workers, prostitutes and the elderly, making statistics on gender differences widely available. Attempting to reach a wide audience, it distributed over half a million information leaflets annually. It created a 10,000 document library and promoted women's contribution to the arts through touring exhibitions and literary prizes. Total staffing varied from 170 to 220 people, and its annual budget in the early 1990s was 2,300m pesetas. From 1983 to 1996 the Institute's directors were socialist-feminists from within and from outside the governing party: Carlota Bustelo, Carmen Martí-nez Ten, Purificación Gutierrez and Marina Subirats. Public opinion widely supported the Institute's work and welcomed the new cultural image of a modern, well-educated woman exercising choice over her fertility and working life. Nevertheless, critics levelled charges of élitism and lack of attention to the needs of ordinary women. Some feminist organizations voiced concerns about the Institute's perceived dominance over the wider women's movement.
   See also: feminism
   Further reading
   - Threlfall, M. (1996) "Feminist Politics and Social Change in Spain" in M.Threlfall (ed.) Mapping the Women's Movement, London and New York: Verso, pp. 115–51.
   - Valiente, C. (1995) "The Power of Persuasion: the Instituto de la Mujer in Spain" in D.M.Stetson and A.Mazur, Comparative State Feminism, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 221–36.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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