THE SPANISH Cabinet has approved the second stage of a draft law that seeks to boost the presence of women in politics, business and professional associations. 

Once it has been approved by the Congress of Deputies, there will have to be a minimum 40% presence of women in government, on the boards of major companies, the governing boards of professional associations and electoral lists. 

The Equal Representation Law was first announced by Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in March, ahead of International Women’s Day. 

On Tuesday, ministers announced further details that had been approved, which will affect panels in the judiciary, such as the Constitutional Court, the Audit Court and the CGPJ legal watchdog. These bodies will also have to ensure that women account for at least 40% of members. 

Another of the modifications announced today include a more flexible timetable to introduce the changes in the workforce. Companies listed on Spain’s Ibex 35 stock exchange, for example, will have to have a minimum of 40% female board members by June 2024. 

The draft law also states, however, that neither gender can have a presence that is below 40% nor above 60%. This means that in practice boards of directors made up exclusively of women will not be permitted. 

“With this law we are taking a major step toward effective equality without establishing disproportionate demands on large companies,” said Economy Minister Nadia Calviño on Tuesday after the weekly Cabinet meeting. 

She added that the legislation, which will now be sent to Congress for debate and approval, will put Spain ‘on the cutting edge in terms of equality and in terms of the breaking of the glass ceiling’.

The Sanchez government has made equality one of its central policies. All three of Spain’s deputy prime ministers are women, while women also occupy 12 of the 22 Cabinet positions in the current government, which is a coalition of the Socialist Party and leftist Unidas Podemos.

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