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Cheers for Spain! Yesterday, the Spanish Parliament passed a women’s equality law aimed at helping women overcome pervasive sexual prejudice in the workforce and in politics.

From the Houston Chronicle:

March 15, 2007,  9:56PM

Spanish parliament passes women’s equality law

Prime minister says passing bill will transform society for better 

By DANIEL WOOLLS  Associated Press

MADRID, SPAIN — Parliament passed a gender-equality bill Thursday
aimed at getting more Spanish women into elected office and corporate
boardrooms — and more men heating baby bottles and changing diapers.

"Today is the first day of a different society," Socialist Prime
Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a self-proclaimed feminist, said
during a debate before the vote.

The final tally in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies was 192-0, with
119 abstentions. The latter were from the conservative Popular Party,
which has derided the bill as too interventionist. A total of 39
lawmakers did not attend the session.

The highlight of the so-called Law of Equality grants 15 days of
paternity leave to new fathers. In 2013, the 15 days’ leave will expand
to a month.

The bill had already been passed in the Senate, so Thursday’s vote was final.

Another provision of the bill says women must make up at least 40
percent of the lists of candidates that parties field in elections. It
will be applied for the first time in May when Spain holds regional and
municipal balloting.

In the business world, where Spanish women are grossly
underrepresented, companies that achieve more of a male-female balance
among their executives and at lower levels will receive favorable
treatment when they bid for government contracts.

Zapatero, who has made women’s rights and gender equality a hallmark
of a liberal-minded government that took power in 2004, said the law
"will transform Spanish society forever and for the better."

I love how Zapatero is a proudly self-proclaimed feminist. It’s awesome. Contrary to conventional wisdom, both women and
men can be feminists. In the United States, however, I know only a few
guys who would call themselves feminists, and they’re all college-age liberals. Can you imagine male lawmakers (forget about the president) calling themselves feminists? Yeah, right. Can you even imagine female lawmakers
calling themselves feminists? I can’t. Jokes about bra-burning and man-bashing
would roll of the tongues of Washington pundits. Feminist is the "other F-word" in this country. Even my male friends chuckle when I call myself a feminist. "Well, at least you’re not the crazy kind of feminist," one told me recently. Supressing the urge to throw my glass of water in his face, I responded by saying that he needed to clarify what a "crazy feminist" was, because I’d never met one and was curious about this exotic species.  His answer was basically a listing of stupid feminist stereotypes: the angry cat-lady, the bra-less college woman, the scary lesbian, the sexually dissatisifed man-hater, the denigrater of stay-at-home mothers. I am none of these things, and I told my friend that he might want to go out and actually talk to feminists before he makes another display of his astonishing ignorance.

It is my friend’s kind of ignorance, coupled with persevering cultural undercurrent of misogyny among political elites, that is responsible for the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment, and the United States’ rejection of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW.) We still  have a lot of lawmakers who firmly believe that a woman’s ONLY place is in her home, raising children and tending to her career-man husband’s every need. When my generation (with its huge numbers of women going into law and politics) is running things, that will change.


A new website called (named, of course, after the terrorist bombings on March 11, 2004) recently came to my attention as a very interesting forum for international discussions about terrorism and democracy. The time is certainly ripe for such a forum, which describes itself as “a major international portal website providing comprehensive links and a regular blog to discussions, events, articles and organisations concerned with democracy, terrorism and security.”

Its goal is to “encourage action – and to defy the terrorists:
* By promoting togetherness using all the energies of the web;
* By suggesting democratic solutions to counter terrorism;
* By debating creative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”

One recent article on their website that I found interesting was by Louise Richardson on “The Roots of Terrorism”. The author considers different root causes of terrorism today. She focuses especially on inequality, societal changes and alienation as key factors in terrorist groups’ survival and success. She also points out that terrorist groups depend on community support, usually of the passive variety.

As we reflect on our country’s counterterrorism strategies on the fifth anniversary of September 11th, consideration of the underlying causes of the new global terrorism is crucial. Indeed, Hope Not Hate’s question of “Who are the moderates and how do we engage them?” seems evermore important as we seek to turn the tide the passive community support of terror. Check out to learn more and join in their interactive discussion and debate!


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