Hundreds of events have taken place across the country to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Protests have been held, with many taking place virtually or with socially distanced rules in place, with women in Spain using the occasion to highlight various issues.
But many of the celebrations were called out for not supporting COVID measures, with even staunch feminist Montero speaking out to say she would respect public health recommendations and would not participate in any marches.
Those who did gather to celebrate 8M, as International Women’s Day is referred to in Spain, were asked to stand still instead of marching.
The largest 8M gathering took place in Barcelona, while smaller-scale events, static protests and bike rides took place in the city and beyond.
In Madrid, nearly 100 protestors gathered outside Puerta del Sol central square calling for an end to violence and discrimination against women.
They stood six metres apart shouting ‘enough with patriarchal justice’ and holding colourful banners.
Their presence comes after Spain’s Constitutional Court on Monday rejected last-minute appeals by unions and women´s rights groups to march in the capital, telling activists to find alternative ways to celebrate the day.
“Madrid continues to be one of the Spanish regions with the highest infection rate as well as the highest number of hospital admissions,” the central government’s chief representative to the Madrid region told a news conference.
Jose Manuel Franco said the administration had received 104 requests for demonstrations on March 7-8, which would have brought at least 60,000 people to the streets of the capital.
“The problem is the size of the crowds that would build up in a few hours and in a few places,” he said.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez came under fire last year for taking part in the Women’s Day march in Madrid, at a time when the virus was already circulating in Spain.
Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero tested positive days after the marches and a week later the government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in a bid to target the widespread outbreak of the virus.
This year Sánchez and Montero came together, pledging to ‘protect and advance’ equality in Spain.
At the official Women’s Day event in Madrid Sanchez said the feminist flag ‘is above all the flag of unity’ adding that now ‘is the time to protect the rights that have been won and move forward to achieve new rights’
Reflecting on a year that has seen major changes in laws impacting women including abortion and equal pay regulations an and forcing judicial reforms regarding sexual abuse, the he and the Equality Minister agreed there was much progress still to make towards gender equality.
“Spain can´t continue to be built with women in the margins, with a few that break glass ceilings while the most vulnerable continue on sticky floors,” said Montero.
Sanchez also spoke out and critisised far-right activitsts, calling them ‘fearsome threat’ to equality.
He said: “We cannot ignore a threat that is fearsome is the reappearance of the extreme right, with its hate speech and its stark machismo.
“The far right is nostalgic for a time when it was within the power of men to make and unmake the lives of women at will. And the women were at his disposal as if they were a free service, as if they were subordinate people.”