chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction

ByMONICA THRELFALL, CHRISTINE COUSINS

How far from the singing washerwoman, hip-swinging gitana and priggish María bound for mass of earlier generations. ‘Yes it is possible to change things’, declared one of a group of six thousand local councillors under 30 years old on being elected (Roma 1999: 28). They are representative of a generation in which even the boys admit that girls have more of the best human qualities (Fundación Santa María 1999). Yet when it comes to filling political posts with women, enlightened male politicians decry the difficulties of finding enough willing candidates for the job, to which Angeles Ruíz-Tagle, President of the Spanish caucus of the European Women’s Lobby, responds: ‘They complain that we lack ambition but in fact they force us to choose between politics and the family.’ When it comes to the crunch, the difficulties of combining a public with a private life are as great as ever. It is either one or the other. ‘Despite all the equality laws, historically and socially the public realm is still associated with men’, explains Micaela Navarro, the Socialist Party’s equality spokeswoman. Margarita Uría of the Basque National Party (PNV) agrees: ‘When a meeting drags on late into the evening, it’s the women who seize any opportunity to phone home and you hear them chatting “Have you had your supper yet?” “Has your temperature gone down?”. The men just

sit there’ (Ortega Dolz 2001: 11). No wonder some women choose family over career. But not many, the figures show. The queue of Spanish women seeking jobs is the longest in Europe.