chapter  2
44 Pages

Gendering the transition to democracy: Reassessing the impact of women’s activism


One of the striking features of the way the Spanish transition to democracy has been depicted is its silence over questions involving gender, be these the activities of women’s organisations, protest against the gender bias and sexism of the Francoist system, or the equality issues in constitutional, parliamentary and party politics. In all, there has been a notable absence of attention to the gender implications of the transformations that have occurred in the Spanish polity over the last two decades. Although the literature on the political transition is abundant, only a handful of articles, almost exclusively written by women, have identified the presence of

women or the influence of the women’s movement. The gendered questions of the transition have been overlooked both in traditional historical accounts, in political-science approaches and even by those highlighting the part played by labour, social and urban movements. Similarly, explanations of voting trends emerging in the new party system have paid scant attention to gendered patterns of voting behaviour, or to the political preferences of different sectors of women by age, education and employment, despite their impact. Even accounts of the role of the Catholic church, where issues of divorce, birth control and abortion come up because of their salience in church-state relations (such as Brassloff 1998), avoid mentioning women and any church role in maintaining gender hierarchies.