8 Mar, 2018 @ 12:03
2 mins read

Spain’s most inspiring expat women


INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day, March 8, celebrates the achievements of women globally and is a call to action for implementing gender parity.

To commemorate the day, the Olive Press has listed nine inspirational expat women who have made their mark in Spain working in everything from politics, to fashion and Spanish Civil War volunteers.

Sophie Cranston

The top London-based fashion designer set up the label, Libélula, while living near Tarifa and has since designed a dress for Kate Middleton.

After graduating from the University of Northumbria, Sophie won the prestigious Designer of the Year Award at Graduate Fashion Week in 1999.

After two years she moved to the Costa La Luz to learn Flamenco and Spanish and set up Libélula, whilst employing local women.

Elizabeth Wilkinson

British journalist, Elizabeth Wilkinson, reported on the bombing of Guernica in 1937.

The writer was in Bilbao, País Vasco, cabling information to The London Daily Worker as the terror unfolded.

On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War Elizabeth helped establish the British Women’s Committee Against War and Fascism and was secretary of the Spanish Women’s Committee for Help to Spain.

Charmaine Arbouin

British consul of Andalucía and Canary Islands since 2013, Charmaine Arbouin oversees the busiest British consulate in the world handling around 500 enquiries a month.

The mother of three studied Spanish at Hull University and went on to work in government before relocating to Andalucía.


Mary Page

Chairman of ADANA animal rescue in Estepona, Mary Page runs a team of volunteers who provide shelter and care of abandoned animals.

After moving to Spain from the UK several years ago, Mary and her partner discovered a dying dog which they were unable to save.

It compelled her to join ADANA – an organisation set up by English expats and local Spanish people – which saves and rehomes hundreds of dogs every year.

Jessica Simpson

At age 31, Jessica Simpson became the first expat politician to lead a party and win a seat at the local council in Mojacar.

In 2011 Jessica became the leader of the Mojacar Positiva Se Mueve party and gives a voice to an expat community that makes up 70 per cent of the Mojacar population.

Felicia Browne

The artist was the only known British woman to fight in the Spanish Civil War and also became the first British volunteer to die in it.

Surrey-born Felicia joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1933 and was a member of the London-based Artists’ International Association, which later raised funds for the Spanish Republican forces.

Her final pieces of art were recently exhibited in London in aid of Spanish relief campaigns.

Betty Eleanor Gosset Molesworth Allen OBE

The New Zealand botanist discovered the fern, Psilotum nudum, growing near Algeciras and as a result the area was protected as a national park, Los Alcornocales Natural Park.

Now, an ‘Honorary daughter’ of Los Barrios, she wrote a string of books on the botany of Andalucía.

She died in Marbella in 2002.

Liz Parry

Former editor of SUR in English, Liz Parry received a British Empire Medal awarded by Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of her services helping British citizens in Andalucía.

After moving from Salisbury to Spain in the 70s, Liz started working at SUR in English as a translator and commentator.

Now, the journalist is Vice President of the Costa Press Club and board member of the Fundación Cementerio Inglés de Málaga.

Rosalinda Powell Fox

A spy during World War II, Rosalinda Powell Fox, was from an English family born in India.

Rosalinda fell in love with Colonel Juan Luis Beigbeder, minister for the exterior in the Government of Francisco Franco. The relationship gave her access to the names of those working for the Gestapo.

It is believed Churchill stated ‘the war might have taken a very different course were it not for Rosalinda’.

The spy eventually resided in Gibraltar and ordered the building of brick houses with British bulldogs above the entrances.

El Parque de Mayores in Guadarranque was named “Rosalinda Fox” last year.

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