GIRL POWER: A look at Andalucia’s strongest women

They were recently named among the most powerful women in Spain

LAST UPDATED: 7 Dec, 2016 @ 17:29
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powerful-women-penelope-cruz
Penelope Cruz

THEY say that behind every successful man is a woman.

But the females named recently in El Mundo’s top 500 most powerful Spanish women might have a thing or two to say about that.

The Olive Press takes a closer look at the strong Andalucian women who have made it onto the 2016 list, from pilots to politicians and from sport stars to activists.

We also pay tribute to some other women who we think should have made the list but somehow didn’t.

Fatima Banez, minister of employment and social security, Huelva

High-flying Fatima Banez was previously an economist and jurist before turning to politics.The PP politician has been widely credited with having reduced unemployment, from a high of 27.16% in 2013 to 18.9% in 2016.

Carolina Marin
Carolina Marin

Carolina Marin, badminton star, Huelva

Ranked number one in the world, badminton players come no better than Marin. The 23-year-old, the youngest on our list, won her first women’s singles gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was the first Spaniard to win the BWF World Championships and the Grand Prix Gold title.

Rocío Gonzalez Torres, fighter pilot, Sevilla

One of only four Spanish military pilots and the only one who has flown for over 1,000 hours, Gonzalez has truly reached for the skies. One of her completed solo missions was a dangerous, unarmed flight over Libya during the country’s 2011 civil war.

Susana Diaz, president of Andalucia

She has allegations of corruption hanging over her head. But this was not enough to keep Diaz off this year’s list. The controversial socialist politician is tipped to become the next leader of the PSOE.

Pilar Aranda Ramirez
Pilar Aranda Ramirez

Pilar Aranda, president of the University of Granada

Illustrious Aranda is a leading brain in the field of physiology but also has a background in pharmacy and sports science. Through her career, she has worked in universities around Spain and in Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador. One of her latest focuses has been on digestive health and nutrition.

Isabel Ambrosio
Isabel Ambrosio

Isabel Ambrosio, mayor of Cordoba

Despite being born in Madrid, PSOE member Ambrosio has dedicated most of her working life to the people of Andalucia. Prior to ascending to mayor, she focused on disability, business, tourism and sport.

Marina del Corral Tellez, government general secretary of immigration and emigration, Velez-Malaga

Corral studied law at the University of Granada before becoming a professional specialising in EU law and rights of societies and markets. She also currently holds the post of vice president of the General Council of Spanish Citizenship Abroad and president of the labour commission. She is involved in the NGO Cipie, which helps Latin Americans living in Spain.

Ana Ferrer Garcia, Supreme Court judge, Linares Jaen

Not long after beginning her career in the court rooms of Linares the fast-climbing Ferrer was called up to preside over courts in Madrid. She made history in 2014 when she became the first woman to be elected to the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Carmen Sanchez-Cortes, secretary of state justice, Sevilla

A former law student, Sanchez held dozens of high-ranking government posts before ascending to her current role. She was also the administrative director of the National Institute of Meteorology.

Maria Angeles Carmon, head of anti-gender violence organisation, Sevilla

Carmona has been fighting to stop gender violence in Andalucia since she became a judicial secretary in 1994. She has worked in courts in Sevilla and is a key policy maker regarding school safety.

Cristina de Parias, director of BBVA Spain bank, Sevilla

Despite studying law at the University of Sevilla, Parias found her calling in banking. She was recognised for helping the bank gain a place in the Great Place to Work rankings of 2016.

Prior to moving to BBVA she worked at Banco Español de Crédito, Citibank and Argentaria.

Elvira Navarro, novelist, Huelva

Philosophy graduate Navarro was named as one to watch early on in her career, following the release of her first novel La ciudad en invierno. Since then, the 37-year-old has published five more novels and contributed to an impressive amount of collective works. Some of her books have been translated into six different languages.

Reyes Hellin, milliner, Sevilla

Spain’s milliner par excellence was born and made in Sevilla. Her landmark shop in the city also stocks brands by some of the most sought-after designers in the world.

Maria Teresa Campos, TV presenter, Malaga

Although now based in Madrid, Campos made Malaga her home for several years. She studied philosophy at the university before going onto become a household name, thanks to her starring roles in dozens of TV news programmes.

Magdalena Trillo, director of Granada Hoy

Tenacious Trillo started at the paper back in 2003, when she was named its head of culture.

She has also worked at Ideal newspapers in Granada and Jaen and has also taken part in TV and radio debates.

Sara Mesa, novelist, Sevilla

Mesa was named winner of the renowned Premio Ojo Crítico last year for her book  Cicatriz. She has penned half a dozen successful novels, short stories and a book of poems.

Natalie de Molina
Natalie de Molina

Natalia de Molina, actress, Linares Jaen

The second youngest on our list, 25-year-old Molina is a well-known face in Spanish cinema, TV and theatre. She won her first Goya award for best newcomer in 2014 for her role in Vivir es facil con los ojos cerrados. She was awarded another for best actress this year and has garnered a string of other prizes.

Carmen Thyssen, art collector with museum in Malaga

Although not a resident of Andalucia, multi-millionaire art collector Thyssen has strong links to the region thanks to her eponymous art museum in Malaga. Her fortune is today estimated to total 900 million.

Missed off

There were some very worthy Andalucian names which somewhat shockingly did not appear in this year’s El Mundo list.

We pay tribute to some of them here.

Maria Pujol, triathlete, Sevilla

At the tender age of 10, Pujol had already won dozens of regional and national contests. She is now a multi-time national competition winner and was named in the 2014’s Las Top 100 Mujeres Lideres en España.

powerful-women-mercedes-alaya
Mercedes Alaya

Mercedes Alaya, judge, Sevilla

Alaya is best known for presiding over the billion euro ERE fraud case that involved the siphoning of money from public funds. She is also known for working on a case involving embezzlement of funds through the sale of the  Real Betis football team.

Isabel Guirao, social activist, Almeria

Guirao is behind a huge drive to change how Spain cares for those with learning disabilities.

Ana Bella Estevez, social activist, Sevilla

Estevez created Fundacion Ana Bella after being subject to abuse by her own husband. She helps and empowers women who have experienced maltreatment.

Celia Jimenez Caballero, chef, Cordoba

Jimenez was the first Andalucian woman to receive an illustrious Michelin star, which she earned while chef de partie at Marbella’s El Lago in 2002. She now has her own restaurant in Cordoba.

powerful-women-celia-jimenez-caballero
Celia Jimenez

Concha Lopez Narvaez, author, Sevilla

This accomplished children’s author has written enough books to stock a small library on her own.

Household names

As well as hundreds of hidden gems, the top 500 also includes some already household names.

Keep your eye on the following in 2017.

Penelope cruz, actress and model

Surely no introduction is needed for Spain’s most famous export. 2016 saw her star in three films; Zoolander no.2, Grimsby and La reina de España.

Princess Leonor
Princess Leonor

Leonor Borbon, Princess of Asturias

2016 has proved to be a transformational year for this future queen, if El Mundo’s opinion is anything to go by. She has rpeortedly blossomed from a child into a princess.

Soroya Saenz de Santamaria, deputy Prime Minister

This former state lawyer has held this top post since November.

Eugenia Martinez de Irujo, 12th Duchess of Montoro

An aristocrat and socialite, who works for the Tous Designer House.

Lovely Pepa (Alexandra Pereira), fashion blogger

With 1.3 million Instagram followers, Pereira is one of the most influential online fashion writers around.

Ana Pastor, president of Congress

This PP heavyweight also has a degree in medicine and surgery and used to be the minister of health.

Mireia Belmonte, Olympic champion swimmer

A freestyle, butterfly and medley expert,  she became the first Spanish woman to win an Olympic

swimming gold medal when she won the 200-meter butterfly at the 2016 event.

Sandra Ortega Mera, shareholder in Inditex

Worth 7.5 million, she is the oldest daughter of Amancio Ortega, the creator of Inditex.

Yayo Herrero, ex-head of Ecologistas en Accion

Herrero has been described as the Spanish Naomi Klein thanks to her inexhaustible social activism.

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