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Spain announces law on gender parity in politics and business

People walk past a Zara store, an Inditex brand, in central Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 20, 2016. — REUTERS/ALBERT GEA

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday announced a gender equality law that will require more equal representation of women and men in politics, business and other spheres of public life.

The Equal Representation Law will apply gender parity measures to electoral lists, the boards of directors of big companies and governing boards of professional associations.

Mr. Sanchez made the announcement during a Socialist party rally ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. It will be approved during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting before going for debate in parliament.

He said the government was “not only taking a step in favor of feminism, but in favor of Spanish society as a whole”.

It is the latest in a series of equality measures announced by the leftist coalition government. In December, lawmakers passed a transgender rights bill, as well as a pioneering law covering sexual and reproductive health that, in a first for a European country, offered state-funded paid leave for women who suffer from painful periods.

“If they represent half of society, half of the political and economic power has to be women’s,” Mr. Sanchez said on Saturday.

The Equal Representation law will require women to make up 40% of the management of any listed company with more than 250 workers and an annual turnover of 50 million euros ($53 million).

In politics, the law will require parties to offer equal numbers of male and female candidates during elections, with the aim of increasing gender parity in parliament. At the moment women make up 44% of Congress and 39% of the Senate.

It will also require professional associations to have at least 40% women on their boards, as well as juries for any awards financed with public money. — Reuters

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