and Policies of Equality in Europe
5.2 The Situation of Women in Politics
Finland gained its independence in 1917, but before that, as a Grand Duchy within the Russian empire, it had the status of an autonomous province. At the turn of the century there was however increasing pressure from Russia on the autonomous position of Finland, which lead to the mass mobilization of the citizens. According to Irma Sulkunen, who has studied the history of women's movements in Finland, the first formally organized civil associations started to emerge in Finland in the 1880s. Women participated together with men in these associations as well as in the general social and political mobilization of the society. (Sulkunen, 1990, 48-51)
The first women's organization, Finnish Women's Association (Finsk Kvinnoförening -Suomen Naisyhdistys), was founded in 1884 and the Women's Right Movement Union (Naisasialiitto Unioni) in 1892. Sulkunen writes that these emancipatory organizations did not, however, attract very many women. More women were involved in various joint movements, such as the Temperance Movement, the Finnish Language Youth Club Movement and the Social Democratic Party. Women played a prominent role in these organizations, often as founders and leaders of local branches. The Temperance Movement, which had more women supporters than men in the beginning of the 20th century, was a particularly important channel for women's social activism. It can even be considered the most important organization for women at the turn of the century. There were also a lot of women involved in the Martha Association, which was based on housewife ideology. (ibid.)
Women continued to participate in both their own and joint organizations in the struggle for suffrage. The women's movement, which was supported by the working class movement, demanded universal suffrage with arguments of equality and justice: women as citizens should have the same rights as men. The working class women added interest-based arguments to the debate by asking who could better represent working women and mothers than they themselves. Civil activism culminated in the Great Strike of 1905, which forced the Russian authorities to agree to demands for reform. Thus, in 1906 the Finns, both women and men, were granted universal suffrage in national elections and the right to be electoral candidates. With these reforms in the political system, Finnish women became the first women in Europe to receive the right to vote and the first in the world to be eligible for Parliament. (ibid., 42-53; Kuusipalo, 1993, 14)
Women gained the right to vote in local elections in 1917. The Martha Association joined the political left in actively supporting increasing women's representation in the local councils. Women were especially integrated into the boards of poor relief, education, housing and health. In 1945 women had on average about 5% representation in the local councils, but differences between towns and rural areas were big. The proportion of women's representation in local town councils was about the same as that in Parliament, a little over 10%, and in the local council of the capital Helsinki there were already over 25% women in the 1950s. (Kuusipalo, 1993, 17-18)
In the first democratic parliamentary elections held in Finland in 1907, 19 of the total of 200 members elected to the parliament were women. The proportion of women serving in the Parliament varied around 10% until the end of 1940s. It was lowest after the 1930 elections when women gained only 6% of the seats. In all elections during the 1950s and 1960s this proportion rose to about 15%. In 1970 22% of MPs were women and that figure has remained above 20% ever since, rising to above 30% after the 1983 elections. Finland had the most women in parliament in 1991, when their proportion was 39%. In the last general elections in 1995 the proportion of women in Parliament decreased to 33%, which is still the third highest ratio in the world. But as Jaana Kuusipalo (Kuusipalo 1993, 17), who has studied Finnish women in politics, points out, it is important to note here that the proportion of women in the Parliament does not necessarily increase linearly.
The electoral system, based on multi-member constituencies and a proportional voting system, is generally regarded as more favorable to women candidates than single-member constituencies with a majority-vote system, but the fact that Finnish women are active voters has probably also helped to increase the number of women MPs. In the parliamentary elections of 1991 women's voting activity exceeded that of men. In the 1995 elections 73% of the women voted, compared to 71% of the men. Even though the parties or coalitions of several parties form candidate lists, voters do not vote for the whole list, but rather for a person. Thus, the "women vote for women" principle can be used in order to increase the number of women elected to the parliament. Every vote for women candidates has had a direct effect on their share in the electoral bodies. The majority of the candidates in the parliamentary elections of 1995 were still men, but the proportion of women was 39%, which is double that of twenty years ago. The proportion of votes given to women has also increased: in 1970 only 19% of the votes went to women candidates, but in the 1995 36%. (Lehtiniemi, 1995, 99-100)
The Act on women's eligibility to state offices was passed in 1926 and the first women minister, Miina Sillanpää, was appointed to the government. The second woman minister was appointed to the Finnish government in 1948, and from 1968 there has always been at least one woman in the government. During the 1970s there were usually two women in the government and since the 1980s three. The first women ministers came from the left-wing parties. The first non-socialist woman from the Agrarian Party was appointed to the government in 1953, and in the 1960s the right-wing parties also began to nominate women to the ministerial posts. (Kuusipalo, 1993, 18-23)
In her study of women ministers, Kuusipalo makes a distinction between three generations of Finnish women ministers. The first generation of women in the government, from 1926 until early 1960s, were clearly the representatives of women. They were members of the women's sections within their parties and had often also had a leading position in one of the national women's organizations. This changed in the 1970s, when women appointed to the cabinet were chosen by male-dominated party leadership, and the significance of the women's section in the nomination process decreased. Women appointed to be ministers were chosen on the basis of a long-term organizational career in politics or a suitable expert career and a 'proper' sex. Equality policies became part of the formal state politics in the 1970s, and as a result, since then at least one woman was required in the political and administrative bodies to represent her sex. Women ministers appointed during the 1980s and thereafter have again been more aware of being a woman in top-level politics. (Kuusipalo, 1990, 21-22)
In the government appointed in 1995, seven of the 18 ministers were women, from 1997 onwards 6. Besides the quantitative change in women's representation in the governments, some qualitative changes have also taken place. Until the 1980s women were mainly in charge of the Ministry Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Education, but lately women have been appointed in other fields also. The first woman was appointed to be the minister of defence in 1990, making her also the first woman in the world to hold this position (Equality, a habit..., 1995). The first Finnish woman Foreign Minister was appointed to the government formed in 1995, in which five other women hold the positions of ministers of defence, labor, second minister of finance and both ministers of social affairs and health.
In Finland the chief of state has always been a man, but this almost changed in 1994, when the president was for the first time elected directly. Two presidential candidates, a man and a woman, competed in the second round. Many Finnish women were excited about the possibility of electing a woman as President and 84% of the women, compared to 81% of the men, voted. But not only gender, but also political background divided the votes so that the Social Democratic candidate, current President Martti Ahtisaari defeated Elisabeth Rehn, the candidate of the Swedish People's Party, by eight percentage points. (Lehtiniemi, 1995, 102-103)
Even though Finnish women have done well in the electoral field, their success in the corporate field has been more moderate, as in other Nordic countries also. The highest permanent officials in the state administration were all men until 1995, when women were named to the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and in the Ministry of the Environment. Women are more often secretaries than influential committee members in all corporative decision-making bodies. More than one parliamentary committee secretary in three was a woman, but almost 90% of chairmen of these committees were men in 1990. (ibid.) In 1996 there were 14 committees preparing new laws or other large-scale reforms, of which women were chairing only two. Additionally there exists a segregation in women's and men's roles within these committees. Women are most represented in committees relating to social, health, education and environmental policies, and men on the other hand dominate the committees working under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Transport (Equality, a habit..., 1995, 2). If we look at the regional administration, the picture is about the same. Only one of the 16 regional councils currently has a woman as Executive manager, generally women most often occupy positions as office and personnel managers or as marketing secretaries.
On the county level women are more visible as leaders. In the spring 1996, when Finland was still divided into 12 provinces, four of the governors were women. In September 1997 the number of the provinces has reduced to five, but suprisingly, women were not the ones to lose: three of the five governor posts are currently held by women. But again at the local level the proportion of women managers is much lower. Only 32 municipalities out of 455 have women as municipal managers. Since 1988 the number of municipal councils chaired by a woman has doubled, but the percentage is still not more than 15%. The proportion of women's representation in the councils was on average about 30% in 1996, but there were less women, about 25%, participating in the Municipal Executive Boards. (Equality, a habit..., 1995, 3)
In addition to the electoral and administrative bodies, trade unions have a significant role in Finnish society. Increasing public planning related, for example, to income policies has given representatives of the economic interest groups access to the political administrative branch, which is an important arena for preparing proposals and legislative reforms. Today their representation in the corporate channel is unquestioned and their influence on public politics is considerable. Almost all working-age people, both men and women, are members of trade unions or labour organizations of their field of employment. The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has the most members, of whom 46% are women. Women made up over a third of the people attending its last general assembly, but their proportion in different boards within the organization was only 23%. In the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals in Finland (AKAVA) almost half of the members were women in 1993, but they had only 14% representation among the members of its boards. This leads us to conclude that Finnish women are quite poorly represented in this field of politics, as they still do not have equal representation with men in the decision-making bodies of the labour market organizations. (Lehtiniemi, 1995, 106)
In 1995 the Finnish equality legislation was amended and gender quotas were added to it. The law now requires at least 40% representation of both sexes in government committees, advisory boards and corresponding bodies, as well as in municipal bodies and in administrative boards and boards of directors in agencies, institutions or municipal or state-majority companies (Act on..., 1995, 5). About 70% of the committees established after the amendment filled the required quotas. On average, committees had 42% women in the beginning 1996. Also the number of committees that have no women has decreased, but still 3% of the committees established after the implementation of the quotas have only men in them. In addition to the committees a lot of planning is done in working groups, which are now 2-3 times more common in the state administration than committees. Under half of the working groups established after 1995 have the required proportion of women. In addition 12% of the working groups have no women members, some of which being so-called one-man working groups when one expert is called to do the preparatory work. (Kaasinen, 1996, 6-16)
In addition women were also poorly represented in the EU committee, which was established before implementing gender quotas. This committee had 36 sub-committees and considerable influence in coordinating issues related to the EU. Of its 15 civil servant members, only two were women. In the sub-committees the proportion of women was on average 30%, but the sub-committee of economic politics and finance had no women members. (Vähäsaari, 1995, 8-9)
When looking at the statistics concerning political participation in Finland, it can be concluded that the proportion of women in the democratically elected bodies is relatively high in Finland, especially since the 1980s. In addition, Finnish women have an exceptionally long history of political participation behind them: already in the first democratically elected parliament in 1906 their proportion was 10%. Also the division of labour between sexes in politics is not so clearcut anymore: particularly since the end of 1980s, women have been appointed also as ministers of defence, ministers of justice and foreign affairs. However, it has to be noted that women are still a minority in the real centers of power: in the preparatory ministerial committees, e.g. those concerning budget matters, and in the higher levels of state administration.
Apart from statistical analysis, it is important to analyze women's situation in political life also from a more qualitative perspective. Women politicians are still faced with the dilemma of equality and difference: eg. in the Finnish media, different rules apply to female parlamentarians and ministers: they should not be "too much like men" nor too tied to the "female role". Furthermore, the reconciliation of work and family life is still very difficult in political life: in spite of a growing number of younger women in politics, the rules of the political game are not very convenient for women - or men - politicians with family responsiblities.
On the other hand, one should also look at the possibilities and strategies women have used when influencing the political decision-making process. In Finland, one crucial factor in the advancement of women in politics has been the role of women's organizations inside political parties and the cooperation of women politicians in inter-party networks. Women's party organizations have been an important recruitment base for female ministers and an arena for women to influence the formation of party policies. Furthermore, cooperation networks between women from different political parties have emerged in the end of 1980s: in Finland there is a network of female MPs and an organization called NYTKIS - the Coalition of Finnish Women's Associations for Joint Action, which gathers together women's organizations from different political parties, as well as other non-political organizations such as the League of Finnish Feminists and the Association for Women's Studies in Finland. This kind of cooperation offers new arenas to formulate gender-sensitive policies and to influence also the conditions of making political agendas.
France is known as a country of the Revolution of 1793 and of the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. During the Revolution, women's right to citizenship was proclaimed in the works of Condorcet (L'Admission des femmes au droit de cité) and Olympe de Gouges (Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne). However, French women had a long way to go to achieve the full political rights of citizenship. While France was the first nation to grant universal suffrage to male citizens in 1848, French women got their right to vote only in 1944, after many decades of suffragist struggle (Jenson & Sineau, 1994, 244).
During the past few years, the position of women in politics has been in the headlines in the French media. The Movement for Parity (Le mouvement pour la parité hommes-femmes dans la vie publique) has been actively striving for the equal participation of women and men in politics (see Parite-Infos and Gaspard et al., 1992). Furthermore, in June 1996, ten prominent female deputies and ex-deputies published an appeal for parity in L'Express, a widely read French news magazine. The objectives of the movement are supported by the large majority of French women and men: 71% of those responding to the survey organized by the same magazine gave their support to the concept of parity between men and women in politics (L’Express, 1996).
Despite the fact that the election law of 21 April 1944 proclaimed that "women have the right to vote and to be elected on the same terms as men", the reality has been different. In 1945 in the first parliament with female MPs, only 6% of all the deputies were women. Until the last elections in May 1997, the proportion of female MPs had not risen over 6%. The percentage of women parlamentarians was lowest in the sixties, between 1.6 and 2.1% (Jenson & Sineau, 1994; Parité-infos, 1997).
According to Jenson and Sineau (1994) one reason for the extremely low proportion of female MPs in the sixties was the new plurality vote electoral system based on single-member constituencies that was introduced in 1958 by the Fifth Republic. Furthermore, this system encouraged candidates with strong local ties and who had several offices at the same time (e.g. mayor, departmental counselor, and/or deputy). Among these local notables with many years experience in local and regional politics were very few women. Thus the lack of women in national elected offices can partly be explained also by the exclusion of women from local politics. In 1996 women constituted 21.2% of the members of the municipal councils and 7.6% of the mayors, who are the chief executives of the municipal councils (Bihr & Pfefferkorn, 197).
Other reason often mentioned in the context of women's under-representation in the national politics has been the recruitment system of French politicians. Most of the top politicians have been recruited from the senior ranks of the civil service, especially from those educated in Ecole Nationale d'Administration and Ecole Polytechnique. Women have been a clear minority among the students of these grandes écoles (in 1993, the proportion of women admitted to the Ecole Nationale d'Administration was 24%) (Jenson & Sineau, 1994).
However, one can also find more direct factors explaining the under-representation of women in the National Assembly. During these four decades the proportion of female candidates in the parliamentary elections has been constantly low - with the exception of the 1986 elections under a proportional system (24.7%) and the last elections of 1997 (23%) (Parité-infos, 1997). Especially in the right-wing parties, male party leaders have been very reluctant to back women candidates (Appleton & Mazur, 1993, 95-99).
Until the 1970s, there was also an important gap between the electoral participation of women and men in France. In the 50s, the difference in voting rates was 7-9% in favour of men. Furthermore, women cast a larger percentage of their votes for the right-wing parties. However, in the 1980s, the gender gap in voting rates had completely disappeared and women have been more likely than men to support left-wing parties, and since the 1990s, also the Greens (Jenson & Sineau, 1994, 248; Bihr & Pfefferkorn, 196).
In the late 1980s the discussion of the situation of women in politics gained more and more publicity. An association working for parity was founded in 1992 and demands for parity increased, both at the national as well as at the European level (particularly in the Council of Europe and the European Parliament). In this context, it is worth noting that the proportion of women among the French Members of the European Parliament has been constantly higher than the percentage of female deputies in the national parliament. Since the beginning of the 1980s the proportion of women among French MEPs have been more than 20%, and after the latest elections in 1994, it was 29.9% (Bihr & Pfefferkorn, 197).
At the national level, the parliamentary elections in May 1997 were an important turning point in the participation of women in French politics. The elections were preceded by a vivid discussion on the parity of women and men in French politics. The left-wing parties and the Greens presented more women as candidates than usual (nearly 30% of all the candidates). Sixty-three women were elected to the parliament, or 10,9% of all the deputies. In the socialist government, there are 8 women out of 26 ministers in total. The new government also changed the traditional gendered division of labour in politics: women ministers were appointed also to important ministerial posts, such as minister of labour and minister of justice (Parité-infos, 1997; Le Nouvel observateur, 1997).
According to several researchers, the situation of women in politics reflects the constant tension between the ideas of equality and difference in French political life. In her study based on interviews with women deputies, senators, mayors and national party leaders, Mariette Sineau (1988) points out that male politicians have an image of women politicians as constituting a tiny minority. Also women themselves often feel that they have been considered different and capable of filling only the traditionally feminine roles and that they are excluded from the decision-making concerning "the real issues".
However, female politicians also think that as women, they change the rules of the political game, by bringing a dimension to politics that is closer to everyday lives of citizens. In this way, women expand the political agenda to issues that have been considered private or without political relevance. The same conception of politics, which is based on a distinction between the public and the private spheres, was found among women voters when Janine Mossuz-Lavau (1995) interviewed French female and male voters on how they saw the field of politics.
In their study of the role of women in the French party system, Andrew Appleton and Amy Mazur (1993) point out that gender has had a significant impact at the ideological level, but less at the organizational level. While political parties have been reluctant to use any positive action strategies to promote the status of women inside the party structures, they have been eager to introduce women's issues in their programmes and campaign rhetorics. However, the parliamentary elections in May 1997 may have been a turning point in the parties' policies concerning women and women's issues. The elections and the debate on parity in political life have shown that women are demanding more space in French political life and that the issues concerning gender can play an important role in the formulation of the political agenda.
In Great Britain women over 30 years of age were allowed to vote for the first time in 1918, and in 1928 women gained the right to vote on same terms as men. All the major parties had women activists and women's branches, but despite this existing infrastructure, which could have helped women to be integrated into the field of institutionalized politics, women have largely remained outside the political elite in Britain (Lovenduski, 1994). Even in the early 1990s under 10% of the MPs were women, and in the whole history of British politics, until 1997, there had only been seven women in the cabinet (Russel, 1997).
Joni Lovenduski, who has studied the situation of women in British political life, points out that the rules that apply in British politics tend to favor upper-middle-class white males. Not only the electoral system, which is based on simple-plurality single-member constituencies widely observed to place female candidates at a disadvantage, but also traditional recruitment practices with implicit qualification criteria and nominations through undisclosed channels, reinforce the position of "old" political elites (Lovenduski, 1994). The influence of women as a group has been very small, as they have only been socialized to political practices on a one-by-one basis, their number within political institutions being so low. It has also been difficult for women to argue for the political significance of gender, because class has been a more important factor in British politics. In the political arena of two-party class politics, where parties are divided along class lines and party discipline is strict, putting issues that cut across class divisions on the political agenda is hard and time-consuming work. (Lovenduski, 1993, 8-9)
According to Lovenduski, single campaigns appeared as early as in the 1830s to demand that women receive full adult status and equality before the law; but no organized movement started until the 1850s, when the Langham Place group was formed in London. This group sought to expand women's employment and education opportunities as well as to improve the status of married women before the law. In 1860s the group started the suffrage movement, which was the most important of the campaigns of the 19th century. It was a campaign that united most feminists in the pursuit of a common goal. In 1867 when demands to include women in the suffrage failed, suffrage committees and other local groups established around the country organized as the National Society for Women's Suffrage. The women who led this movement had already gained political experience in earlier feminist campaigns and they were able to keep the women's suffrage issue on the political agenda between the years 1870 and 1901. (Lovenduski, 1986, 25-31)
As women's education and professional opportunities expanded, more support for women's suffrage could be attained and some women began to work for the right to vote through political parties. But disillusionment with both the Labour and Liberal parties as advocates of women's suffrage also lead some feminists to form the Women's Social and Political Union as a single issue movement with the objective of gaining the right to vote. The members of this organization were called suffragettes and they used also direct action to attract attention to their goal. The suffragettes chained themselves to buildings, attacked government representatives, went on hunger strikes and damaged property. All in all, the suffrage movement continued to be active until 1928, when women were allowed to vote on the same terms as men. (ibid., see also chapter 1.4.2.)
The so-called second wave of feminist activism got started partly due to international influences mainly coming from the United States, but the rise of the student left and the growing militancy of working-class women also contributed to the process. The process of putting the 'woman's question' back to the agenda of political left started after Juliet Mitchell's essay "The Longest Revolution" in the New Left Review was published in 1966. Also Sheila Rowbotham's paper "Women's Liberation and the New Politics" contributed to the discussion by pointing out that women's housework responsibilities led to inequalities between the sexes at work. By the year 1968 the first women's consciousness-raising groups were established in London. (ibid., 72-83)
According to Lovenduski, during the 1960s British women also became increasingly concerned about issues of equal pay as well as the right to define their own sexuality. In 1968 an equal pay strike at a Ford motor plant served as an impulse for founding the trade unionist National Joint Action Campaign for Women's Equal Rights. The preparation for the Equal Pay Act of 1970 further united these emerging feminist networks. The activism of these networks also led to the passing of the Sexual Discrimination Act of 1975. The strength of the political left and the links of the women's movement's to the trade union movement as well as to the Labour Party helped to advance some of women's demands. For instance, Trade Councils played an important role in advancing pro-women policies. (ibid.)
Feminism in the USA influenced the other developing strand of British feminism. Anne Koedt's paper titled "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" brought issues that had earlier been regarded as strictly personal to the political agenda. Growing feminist activism concerning issues of the sexuality of women has been seen as a response to the sexual liberalism of the 1960s, which had also led to the increasing sexual exploitation of women. Lovenduski emphasizes that the British second wave feminism has been characterized by tension between these two strands of feminist movement, one rooted in socialist organizations and the other concerned more with defining sexuality and its meanings. (ibid.)
During the 1970s women launched important practical campaigns concerning child care, violence against women and abortion. Around the mid-1970s more women activists also started to turn towards established institutions such as parties, trade unions and different agencies within the administration. In 1978 the split between the so-called radical and socialist feminists became most visible, but in most cases they have nevertheless been able to work together in promoting the status of British women. However, during the 1980s radical feminists still widely regarded political institutions as places of male dominance, and the socialists feminists were likewise suspicious of women applying for public posts. All in all, British second wave feminists emphasized for a long time more the failures than the achievements of working within the political structure and stressed the need for an autonomous women's movement. Lovenduski points out that this is quite logical; after all, the motivating force behind the second wave of British feminism was frustration with institutionalized politics. (Lovenduski, 1994, 300-307; Norris and Lovenduski, 1993, 35; see also chapter 1.4.5.)
During the suffrage movement it was commonly believed in Britain that women's suffrage would have a substantial impact on party allocation, as women would vote for the Conservatives because their emphasis on church and family was thought to be popular among women (Lovenduski, 1986, 125). Before 1945 no records were kept on women's voting behavior, but from then on, women's voting patterns of all European countries have probably been best researched in Britain. Statistics from 1945 to 1979 confirm that during these years women were more likely to prefer the Conservative Party than men. But this gender gap disappeared in the elections of 1983 and 1987, although in the 1992 elections older women favored the Conservatives over other parties by a margin of 45 to 36%, according to the statistics provided by the Labour Party. (Norris and Lovenduski, 1993, 39)
Another assumption made about women's voting has been that women are less likely to vote than men. Again there are no numbers from early years, but later statistics do not indicate a large difference between women's and men's voting activity. Until 1970 about 2 to 4% fewer women voted than men, but in the 1974 general elections the gender gap did not exist anymore and since then women have been somewhat more active voters than men. At the end of the 1980s there were 1.8 million more women voters than men. (ibid.)
In Great Britain about 10% of the adult population are members of political parties. The proportion of female membership in the two major parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, is just over 50% and about 40% respectively. The Social Democrats estimate that about 40% of their members are women, but no exact numbers are available. Nor do the other parties have any statistics concerning their female membership (Lovenduski, 1986, 137). In the following paragraphs we will concentrate on the two major parties and their strategies to advance women in politics.
According to Pippa Norris and Joni Lovenduski (1993), who have studied gender and party politics in Britain, the Labour Party has long-standing ties with the traditionally male-dominated organized labour, and thus, it has been regarded for quite some time to be less receptive to women's issues than the Conservative Party. But in the context of modernizing their image and structures, Labour has been more successful in promoting women than the Conservatives. In the selection of party candidates for national elections Labour has had some difficulties in imposing gender quotas as the party structure is decentralized and the affiliated trade unions are unwilling to give up their power to influence the selection process. The tendency among Labour is that local elected offices are regarded as political stepping-stones for other party offices. It could be said that selection for a good Labour seat is rarely 'open'. But the party agreed in its 1993 Conference that 50% of the vacant and target Labour seats should be designated for all-women shortlists from which the local party selected one woman to be the candidate. However, all-women shortlists have been questioned and an industrial tribunal in Leeds decided that they contravened the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975. This led the party leader to state that this kind of quota system will not be used in the future. (ibid.)
The success in increasing women's representation within the Labour Party is due to the Labour women that organized in the 1980s to demand more women MPs and more power to the women's organizations within the party. The Labour Party's loose organization allows different unions and sections to operate within it, and women have used this opportunity to establish the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy - Women's Action Committee (CLPD-WAC), which demands changes within the party, and another organization named Fightback for Women's Rights, which promotes general sex equality and women's rights issues. These kinds of actions can be viewed as feminists moving into important political channels to act within the system. To some extent women have been able to influence the Labour Party politics. The party now supports party training programmes for women, better child care facilities within the Parliament, adjustment in the hours of parliamentary sessions as well as positive quota and financial support for women. All in all, positive action towards women has become part of the official party policy. (ibid.)
During most of the 1980s the Conservatives, led by Mrs. Thatcher, took their position in representing British women for granted. The party focus was on equality issues, such as equal taxation and child care provision, rather than on issues of equal political representation of the sexes. Pressure from women within the Conservative Party for equal representation came later than within the Labour Party, and the issue was mainly raised on an individual basis. Conservative women did not unite behind the cause. Demands from women have led to several informal, but still quite significant, attempts made by the Central Office to encourage women to seek party nominations. The party has managed to increase somewhat the proportion of women nominated as candidates and they have paid more attention to their women activists in recent years. The party has not made any explicit commitments to strive for gender equality in its influential positions. Generally Conservative women are regarded as the backbone of the party as voters, members and local leaders. According to Lovenduski, Conservative women in general are more active at the local grass root level than in the higher-level policy-making bodies. Women are well represented as branch officers in the local wards, which are the smallest units that make up the constituency. (ibid.)
On the national level, British women have been numerically very poorly represented up till the end of 1990s. As late as in the general elections of 1992 the proportion of women of parliamentary members was only 9%. In the last elections of 1997, women's representation in the House of Commons doubled, and is now 18%. Labour has 101 women MPs, a total of 24% of the parliamentary party, of whom 65 are new MPs. However, the number of Conservative women MPs dropped from 20 to 13 due to Conservative losses in the 1997 elections. (Russel, 1997)
British women have rarely been appointed to the government. In the whole history of British politics only seven women had ever been cabinet members. After the 1997 election the Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed five women cabinet members, their share of the total of 22 ministers is 23%. In addition there are 14 other women in the government, so that of 89 members, 21% are now women. (ibid.)
According to Lovenduski (1986, 165), women's representation in high-level corporate positions or appointed posts has been even poorer than in elected offices. The government has mainly consulted women's organizations via the Women's National Commission (WNC), which is a small and underfunded agency established in 1969. The WNC consists of 50 national, well established organizations with large memberships. Women's sections of political parties are members of the WNC, but no new feminist groups are included. In addition, officially women's interests are narrowly defined and the WNC is not consulted on major economic or policy issues.
Women depend mostly on ministerial nominations for their access to corporate channels as there are very few women to be found in the leading posts of the important labour union or employers' associations. Women's membership in the trade unions has increased as more and more women have joined the active labour force, but their representation in the decision-making bodies within the unions has increased at a much slower rate. In Great Britain, 60% of the men and 40% of the women in the work force belong to a trade union. All in all, women make up little over 30% of the trade union membership. There are no numbers available about women's participation in the different levels of bargaining and particular negotiations, but women are less likely to be represented in their unions' official posts and under 5% of women union members have functioned as shop stewards. There are many reasons for women's lower participation, such as part-time employment, working at home and in small work places and also higher labour turnover. Additionally those branches of industry that are dominated by women, such as clothing or the service industry, are poorly organized. (Lovenduski, 1986, 186-194)
Support for women's rights from the trade unions continues to be dependent on the type of union in question, as well as on type of issues concerned. Traditional unions fear that equality legislation in employment will undermine their collective bargaining power and they argue that sex equality discussions can divide the movement. In British trade union bargaining the notion of men's right to earn a 'family wage' has been important, and this of course contradicts the idea of equal pay and equal opportunities at work. (ibid.)
Corporate organizations, such as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), are important actors in the British corporate channel: the government and civil service frequently consult them on important policy issues and they also have a right to nominate their representatives to public bodies. Thus, it is important that women and their interests should be included in the agendas of these institutions, but so far British corporate bodies have mainly exhibited characteristics of closed oligarchic groups, notes Lovenduski. There has been considerable reluctance to reform and there is little evidence of these institutions adopting formal criteria for training and qualification as a criteria for the most powerful positions within the corporate agencies. (ibid.)
The British political system, based on majority vote, does not favor women like the Scandinavian proportional systems do. Women have had great difficulties of getting selected as a candidate for safe seats by major parties, and although Labour has recently started to increase the representation of women in their safe seats, the proportion of women in the parliament is still under 20%. Unless women in other parties also get opportunities to run for safe seats the male dominance of the House of Commons will continue, especially since usually over 90% of incumbents who choose to run again are re-elected. (Norris, 1993, 315)
In Britain, the track leading to powerful positions within politics is narrow, so if the political leadership does not want to take positive steps to promote women, the 'old boy' network can successfully impede them from taking part in policy-making in many important arenas. Lovenduski (1986, 115) points out that the women's liberation movement in Britain has developed into an autonomous political movement, but in making women's point of view visible in politics, dual action is required, although the politicizing effect that women's self-organization has had in Britain should not be overlooked.
Norwegian women received the right to vote in general elections in 1913, but even before that they had been granted limited rights to vote on several occasions and on separate special issues. For the first time women in Norway voted in 1895 in the municipalities on an issue concerning the sale of spirits. Before women were allowed to vote and to be elected at the national level they were allowed to do so in the municipalities in 1901. In 1907 women with income were allowed to vote in the general election for the national assembly Storting. In 1910 women received the general right to vote in local elections. A law opening the access for women to most public offices was introduced in 1912, but it was not until 1922 that women were allowed to become cabinet ministers. The same year the first woman was elected in her own right to the Storting. The first woman minister was appointed in 1948. (Milestones in...)
As in many other western countries women's political activism in Norway has had two peaks, first during the campaigning for suffrage at the beginning of this century and the second which started in the 1960s. The specific aim of women during these decades was to increase women's representation in politics. Special campaigns were launched before both local and national elections. The first campaign was arranged prior to the 1967 local elections. Due to the campaign, the proportion of women in municipal councils rose from 6 to 9.5%, but the real impact of the campaign was not felt until the local elections of 1971, when the proportion of women in municipal councils rose to 15% (Women in..., 1994, 8). According to Hege Skjeie, who has studied Norwegian women in politics, these elections were the first sign of a new era in party political life. Women secured a majority in three local councils, including the council of the capital Oslo. Skjeie concludes that the 1970s brought a real breakthrough for women's representation in both local and national political bodies. Their proportion rose from below 10 to 20-25% (Skjeie, 1992, 144-148).
Janneke van der Ros characterizes the 1970s in general as a time of political turmoil in Norway. Society became thoroughly politicized over the question of whether to join the EEC or not. Opposition from women was wide-spread, because they were afraid of losing the legal equality that they had already gained. In 1972, Norwegians voted on the issue and the result was that 51% opposed joining. According to van der Ros, it was not possible after this time to overlook the importance of Norwegian women as political actors. Additionally, she states that starting in the late 1960s through the early 1980s the new women's movement in Norway managed to bring new issues, that had earlier been regarded as private matters, to the political agenda. (van der Ros, 1994, 530-533)
Norwegian women have also managed to forge their way into the political parties. For the past fifteen years the major competitors in the electoral field have been on the left: the Labour Party (a social democratic party) and the smaller Socialist Left, on the right: the Conservative Party and the smaller Progress Party, and in the middle: The Center Party and the Christian People's Party. The Labor Party and Conservative Party are the largest, the former with about 38% of the seats in the Storting and the latter about 22% (ibid., 527-529). Skjeie notes that if we look at the general trend throughout the world it can be said that left-wing parties have more willingly included women representatives, but in the case of Norway similarities in integrating women to party politics can be seen between parties on the left and on the right. The exact numbers of women differ in the various parties, but all parties, with the exception of the Progress Party, have increasingly integrated women since the 1970s. Gender quotas were first introduced by the Socialist Left Party in 1975 and during the 1980s women's integration in Norway's political parties increased notably as the Labor Party followed the Socialist Left in adopting quota regulations to ensure that women are represented in all party posts. (Skjeie, 1992, 148-149)
Women have also participated in separate women's factions of their political parties. The history of some of these factions dates all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. Skjeie writes that these factions have aimed at educating women for public offices and promoting issues that are of particular interest to women. In promoting women's representation and their recruitment to political posts these factions have been important actors, although real changes in the status of women in Norwegian politics have only occurred recently despite the long history of these factions. Even if three quarters of the women members in the Parliament were at some point active in women's factions, Skjeie points out that today only a minority of women participate actively in the women's faction of their party. (ibid., 125)
In Norway, proportional elections are based on multi-member electoral districts and primarily on territorial representation. Generally, women are more easily nominated as candidates and elected, in proportional elections from multi-member districts than from single-member districts. But when looking at the Norwegian electoral system, we also need to take into account that the voters cannot vote on a single candidate, but have to vote the whole list of candidates named by a particular party. In this system, the nomination procedure becomes important, because it is crucial which position the candidate holds on the list. As a result special measures to increase nominations of women, and especially nominating them for good positions on the voting lists, have been necessary. The Equal Status Council and women's organizations have together conducted campaigns funded by the government (Women in..., 1994, 8). According to Skjeie (1992, 85), campaigns run before local elections are more effective than those run before general elections, because in local elections voters are given an opportunity to influence the selection of persons on the voting lists and campaigns can be directed at the general electorate as whole.
In addition to the electoral channel, the corporate channel is also important in Norwegian politics. This channel is the domain of public boards, commissions and councils, which form the central arena for negotiating public policies. In this channel, bureaucrats, representatives of different important interest organizations and experts influence the public decision-making. The government appoints members to these bodies on a functional basis. According to Skjeie, women's access to the corporate field has been more difficult than to the electoral field due to their under-representation in the leadership of the most important interest organizations. It has also been difficult for the women's organizations to be defined as relevant negotiation partners. Skjeie has also pointed out that in Norway gender quotas introduced by the political parties also apply to the corporate system of publicly appointed boards and commissions, as the Equal Status Act specifies a that 40:60 per cent quota system applies to all publicly appointed bodies on a national level as well as locally. Despite this, one of the most important actors in the corporate channel, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, has refused for a long time to adopt quota regulations (Skjeie, 1992, 76-97). Thus, there are two sides to the success story of Norwegian women in politics.
Norwegian women have unquestionably been integrated into political life. Norway gained an international reputation as a women's state in 1986 when Gro Harlem Brundtland became the nation's first woman prime minister and nearly half of the members of her government were women. Ever since, the proportion of women in the governments has been somewhere between one third and one half. In 1991, half of the leaders of the major political parties in Norway were women, and as a consequence all three candidates for prime minister's post in the 1993 elections were women. That year there was also the largest proportion of women so far elected to the Storting, nearly 40%, and in the government formed after these elections the proportion of women was 42%. Furthermore, a woman was chosen to be President of the Storting, which is the second highest position in the Norwegian Constitution after the king (Women in..., 1994, 4-9). In 1997 39% of the Norwegian MPs were women, the second highest rate in the world after Sweden (40%).
These numbers show us that women in Norway are present in the formal political institutions to an extent that is still quite unusual in the rest of the world. Women as actors in the political power elite are nowadays a phenomenon that the Norwegians regard as normal and to them, as the Equal Status Council puts it, "a Government Cabinet where much less than half of the members were women would look strange and undemocratic"(ibid., 4).
But how did the Norwegian women come to be so well integrated into the political system of their country? According to Skjeie, usually favorable contextual factors (proportional representation and multi-party competition), political activism and a receptive political culture have been stressed when explaining the prominence of women in Norwegian politics. In a proportional election system, a female candidate is not the party's only candidate from a certain electoral district, so chances for women to be nominated as candidates are better than in majority elections with single-member districts. The proportional system also favours competition between several parties within one electoral district. This can lead to a competitive environment in which one party sets an example by promoting the participation of women, and others who do not want to alienate women voters follow this example. (Skjeie, 1992, 67-90)
The current status of Norwegian women in politics is not only the result of these favorable contextual factors. To a great extent it is also the accomplishment of the strong new women's movement that emerged in Norway in the late 1960s (Women in..., 1994, 5). Skjeie (1992, 85) points out that the movement regarded the recruitment of women into politics as an important goal. It also served to revitalize existing women's organizations and led to the creation of an unusual alliance between the women's factions of the political parties and groups outside the formal political institutions. The specific aim of this alliance was to increase the number of women in politics and to achieve this, it launched special campaigns to increase the number of women nominees in the elections. Due to these campaigns women's representation both in national and local levels increased, as was mentioned above.
According to Skjeie, the third important factor in Norwegian politics in this connection is that gender has been accepted as a politically relevant category. This can be called a receptive political culture which has for its part helped women in arguing for equal representation in the political field. In Norway strong norms of justice, equality and solidarity are widely supported and the principle of 'descriptive representation' has been accepted. This means that in Norway the tradition of social representativeness is strong and that its parliamentary assemblies reflect to greater extent the composition of the society than most other national assemblies. Support for the argument that women can only be represented by women has been easier to achieve than in many other western countries. When specific campaigns to increase women's representation in politics were started, new ways of arguing for this objective also emerged. A perspective that emphasized gender-structured interests in politics brought with it the idea of difference. Difference between the sexes began to be viewed as relevant and increasingly important feature in political representation as well. Women representing women was regarded as necessary because of women's complementary resources and because their interests sometimes conflict with those of men. The success in this approach was that women did not specify which of the women's special experiences or interests would be complementary and which would conflict with the traditional (male) views. Two different conceptions of this gender difference also gave room for different political ideologies: the left wing parties were able to identify with conflict arguments and the more conservative right with the complementary resources approach. Establishing the idea of women's difference and common experiences and interests generated legitimacy for women as a group that needed to be adequately represented. (ibid., 86)
A noticeable increase in women's representation came about in the beginning of the 1980s when more parties adopted the quota regulations that had been introduced by the Socialist Left in the 1970s. Gender quotas were at first a highly controversial issue, but today they have been widely accepted. Four of the six major parties have adopted the gender quota system in electoral nominations and in appointing members to party posts at all levels. After the 1986 government formed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, more conservative parties came into the power and formed a coalition government. None of the these governmental parties had officially adopted the quota system, but they all acted as if they had. The gender quota system has increased women's participation in politics in Norway, but now that women are considered to be a politically relevant group that deserves equal representation in a democratic society, quotas have become less and less important. (Women in..., 1994, 8-9)
There is, however, another side to the picture of the participation of women in public life in Norway. Skjeie (1992, 67) points out that the explanations given for women's success in politics are standard explanations which largely overlook the different tendencies and developments within different public arenas. When we look at the integration of women in the corporate channel, the picture is very different. In this sphere, where bureaucrats, experts and leaders of organized interest groups meet, the representation of women is much lower than in elected political bodies. Skjeie asks why the above-mentioned aspects of Norwegian public life have not influenced the corporate system to the same extent. She points out that selection of representatives in this field still relies more on 'merit', defined according to criteria different from representativeness. In 1989, women formed only 3.3% of the leaders in business corporations. And only 10.9% of senior civil service employees were women in 1990. University professors, who often serve as experts, are mostly men: in 1991 only 7.2% of professors were women. The gender quota regulations of the Equal Status Act apply to all publicly appointed committees, but in the corporate channel these regulations have not been as successful as in the electoral institutions. Skjeie thinks that one reason for this might be that leadership posts within the corporate organizations are very limited. Especially in The Confederation of Trade Unions, which has long rejected all types of quota regulations, individuals are usually appointed to a leadership position until their retirement. In this case increasing the number of women in these positions would mean resignation or early retirement for men appointed to the offices. In its national convention in 1985, after increasing pressure from the growing number of women members of the Confederation, the Confederation accepted quotas limited to its internal consultative commissions. At the end of the 1987, however, it was noticed that these regulations had not led to any changes in the commissions. After public criticism, the problem was solved by increasing the total number of members in the commissions so that women could be added to them. (ibid., 96-97)
According to van der Ros (1994, 530), Norway is a Nordic welfare state where "the state has taken over the guardianship of women from individual men". Women are closely connected to the state as social clients but also as voters who give legitimacy to the state policies as well as public employees: 45% of women working outside the home are employed by the state, and 70% of the state employees are women. In her article van der Ros refers to Helga M. Hernes, a Norwegian feminist political scientist, who views Norway as a patriarchal guardian state, where in spite of women's substantial integration to the political system, the State is still largely male-dominated. According to Hernes, women have not been the creators of the welfare policy but its objects. In her opinion, the values and political priorities are defined by men. (ibid.) This leads us to ask have women changed politics in Norway, and if they have, how?
According to Skjeie (1992, 128), "the Norwegian political culture has undoubtedly changed" over the past decade. Norwegian women have managed to define gender as a politically relevant category which guarantees them representation in the public decision-making bodies. Concern for gender composition of different public commissions has been acknowledged in Norwegian politics for almost twenty years. (ibid., 76) Women's participation in politics has also increased the state's concern for the situation of women. Various social and welfare policies have been implemented to facilitate combining work and family: the number of day-care places has almost doubled in the 1980s, parental leave has been extended and also fathers are obligated to take a minimum of four weeks leave. (Women in..., 1994, 10)
Achieving democracy has not been easy in the history of Spain, according to Maria Teresa Gallego Mendez (1994, 662). It was during General Miguel Primo de Rivera's rule, beginning in 1923, that the Spanish women participated in political institutions for the first time. Cortes Generales (the Consultative National Assembly), which was appointed by Primo de Rivera, had a total of 385 seats, of which women held 13. All these women were from the bourgeois and aristocratic classes. The Second Spanish republic, with a secular, liberal and progressive regime, ended the dictatorship of Gen. Primo de Rivera. This regime allowed women to be appointed to state offices and subsequently three women were elected to the 1931 Constituent Assembly. However, women still had not gained the right to vote, which started a bitter debate over women's suffrage. Women were considered to have conservative political views strongly influenced by the Catholic church, which also led the political left, generally regarded as more willing to integrate women to politics, to oppose women's right to vote. But a constitution granting women suffrage and sexual equality was passed, and in 1933 Spanish women voted for the first time. (ibid.)
The Spanish civil war started in 1936 and lasted for three years. Women participated on both sides. On the Republic side left-wing women's organizations mobilized to oppose Fascism. Catholic women's groups sided with General Francisco Franco, who lead the Fascist forces in the fight against the Republican government. The Feminine Section of the Falange Party was the organization of women encouraged by the Francoist State. It emphasized women's traditional roles and Catholic virtues, but during Franco's time it was also the only channel for expressing women's issues. Two of its leaders were appointed to Cortes franquistas, the consultative body, that was formed in 1943. A total of thirteen women were appointed deputies by 1975. In 1968 some women were also appointed to mayoral posts. (ibid., 663) However, Franco's rule was, as Celia Valiente (1995, 221) points out, "a right-wing authoritarian regime that actively opposed the advancement of women's rights and status". Franco's rule lasted from 1939 until his death in 1975.
Clandestine organizations started to emerge in the 1960s with the aim to recover democracy and the rights and liberties that were denied to both men and women during Franco's dictatorship. Most women's associations involved in these activities were culturally or professionally oriented. They had an important role in introducing and spreading new ideas to replace the Francoist national-Catholic ideals of women as solely dedicated to the family. Only two weeks after Franco's death the first feminist meeting was held in Madrid in early December. It had been planned in secret and its aim was to oppose the government's attitude toward the International Women's Year declared by the United Nations. Over 500 women participated in the meeting, which was at the same time the first political meeting held in Spain after Franco's rule. Mendez points out that this fact has been largely overlooked when discussing Spanish political history. The Women's Liberation Front (Frente para la Liberación de la Mujer) was established in 1976 and the First Conference of Women (I-Jornadas de la Dona) was organized in Barcelona. About 4000 women took part in the Conference, which led in the following months to the creation of many new feminist groups. Most of these groups had close connections with the parties on the left, as at this point the political parties on the left were interested in addressing women's demands. According to Gallego, this kind of political context integrated the fight for women's rights increasingly into the general process of transition to democracy. (Gallego, 1994, 661-667)
In 1977, political parties were legalized and general elections were held in June. A great number of parties and more than 5000 candidates, including 653 women, competed for the 350 seats of the Congress of Deputies. Twenty-one women were elected, giving them 6% representation. In the Senate there were 248 seats of which women gained only six, 2.4%. According to Mendez, even though women did not gain many seats in the Spanish parliament the elections did provide a useful channel for the feminists to address the public with the help of mass media. In 1979, another national feminist conference was held in Granada, in which again about 4000 women took part. Feminist activism continued to have a strong public presence in Spain until 1979. This did not, however, directly reflect women's participation in formal political institutions. In the 1979 elections, as in all elections between 1982 and 1989, women held about 6% of the seats in the Congress of Deputies. During these years the proportion of women in the Senate ranged from 2.4 to 5.6%. (ibid.)
In elections, voters do not generally vote on a single candidate, but a list, and voters can only prefer a certain party list, not a particular person. Women usually occupy lower positions on the party list, from where it is more difficult to be elected. The principle "women vote women" operates only when voting for the Senate, which has a more open voting system. (ibid., 672)
In 1982, the Socialist party PSOE won the elections and gained a majority in both chambers of the Parliament, which was considered the end of the transition period. According to Gallego, the socialist majority government created new expectations for improving the the status of women in politics; however, even though there was a great change in the parliament composition, women's representation in it did not yet increase. The integration of women into the political parties and formal political institutions in Spain started to increase only at the end of the 1980s when the use of gender quotas was first introduced. The Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) proposed a suggested quota of 25% in 1987. After implementing the quotas, due to the federal organization of the PSOE, women's representation in the party offices increased in the autonomous communities, and their proportion in the regional executive committees rose from 8.1 to 22.4%. The proportion of female party members also rose from about 16% to 21.1% in 1991. (ibid., 661-671) In another major party, the Popular Party (Partido Popular, PP) the proportion of women was about 30% in 1991. In 1996, the PSOE adopted a quota of 40 to 60 % for equal representation of both sexes in party committees and electoral lists. Other parties on the Left, like the United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU), have also adopted measures to promote equal representation of women and men. (La Mujer..., 1992, 58-59)
Introducing the quota system also affected the 1989 general elections. The number of female candidates for the Congress of Deputies went up from 21.8% in 1986 to 30.5% in 1989. Also the number of female candidates for the Senate rose from 15% to 23.9%. In the elections women gained over 10% representation in both chambers of the Spanish Parliament for the first time. Compared to the last elections, women's proportion doubled. In the Congress of Deputies women had 14.6% of the seats and in the Senate 10.8% (ibid.). In the last general elections held in 1996, the PSOE, which had controlled the government since 1982, lost its leading position to the PP, but Spanish women still managed to gain in the elections: they achieved 25% representation in the Congress of Deputies and 13% in the Senate.
According to the statistics provided by the Women's Institute (Instituto de la Mujer, IM), the increase in women's representation in the parliaments of the autonomous communities has not been as clear, and there are large differences between different regions. On average, about 6% of the seats in these parliaments were held by women in 1986, by 1991 this rose to 14%. In 1991, women had over 20% representation in the parliaments of Madrid, La Rioja and Asturias, but in the parliaments of Canarias, Aragon, Cantabria and Castilla-Leon, the proportion of women was still under 10%. (La Mujer..., 1992, 60)
In the autonomous communities, only Murcia has chosen a woman to be the president of its government. In six autonomous communities there are no women heading the executive offices. In the local administration on the municipal level women's participation has doubled from 1983, when there were 164 women mayors (alcaldesas), to 1991 when the number of women mayors was 393. But these numbers are still very low, and the proportion of women serving as mayor was 4.2% in 1991. Again, the number of women heading the municipal councils varies greatly according to the region. In 1991 Pais Vasco had the most women mayors (9.3%) and Canarias had the least (1.2%). (ibid.)
Since 1982, the proportion of women serving in the executive offices of the central administration has increased slightly. In the last Socialist government there were three women ministers, three women as Secretaries of State and three in the position of subsecretaries. Today in Spain there are four women ministers. Most women still work in lower positions of the administrative branch. In 1991 more than 40% of all the employees in the public administration are women, but in the high-level positions the proportion of women is 24.4%, whereas only about 12% of the general directors (directoras generales) were women. In addition to this vertical hierarchy, there is also horizontal division between the sexes, as women tend to be employed in the Ministries of Culture, Social Affairs and Education. Most of the women serving as general directors were in these ministries in 1991. In the Ministry of Social Affairs 28.6% of all general directors were women, in the Ministry of Culture 27.3% and in the Ministry of Education and Science 22.2%, compared to the Ministries of Justice and Defence where there were no women as general directors. (ibid., 62)
The integration of women into the field of public politics in Spain has started later and has been much slower compared to their participation on other social spheres (Diez..., 1994). During the dictatorship of Gen. Franco, there were no established political offices and nobody had gained political experience. As a result women could have been integrated into formal politics to the same degree as men, but this did not happen. What has prevented the Spanish women from participating in public politics? Gallego (1994, 665) answers that after almost 40 years of the dictatorship of Gen. Franco, there was no democratic political culture in Spain and many people, especially feminists, were suspicious of the (patriarchal) political system. In this context Spanish women were faced with a dilemma whether to act in the field of formal politics or to choose to remain outside the institutional sphere. Many feminist programmes, declarations and demands were on the agenda of women when the transition to democracy began, but there were also different opinions of how to pursue these common goals. These differing opinions lead to a split between those who wanted to act in autonomous feminist organizations and those who wanted to be integrated into the formal political organizations. In the national feminist conference held in Granada in 1979, the participants were unable to reach any kind of agreement on future strategies, as the split had grown even wider. The different opinions of whether to emphasize women's difference or equality with men led to ingreasing fragmentation of the Spanish feminist movement and made the co-operation of different groups more difficult. Despite this, on specific important issues, such as abortion rights and the fight against sexual violence, different women's groups were able to act together. (ibid.)
As late as in 1984, when people were asked in a poll by the Center for Sociological Research, 92% of the women, and 85% of the men, said that they had never been members of political parties (Gallego, 1994, 670). More recent studies by the Woman's Institute (Instituto de la Mujer, IM) continue to demonstrate women's lack of interest in participating in the political parties. Only 3.2% of Spanish women were members of a political party in the beginning of the 1990s. Only one woman in hundred said that they would want to participate politically. However, women's membership in the parties has increased in recent years. Young, well-educated women, who live in urban areas and support the ideas of the political left are reported to be the most interested in political activities (La Mujer..., 1992, 57 and 64). It is possible that in the near future these young women will be increasingly taking part in politics in Spain.
The outbreak of new feminist movement in Spain happened in a very short time after Franco's death in 1975, and many women became involved in feminist movements. This activism did not, however, lead to women's integration to formal politics for the reasons discussed above. These debates are still alive but the attitudes have changed, and as we have seen, Spanish women have advanced rapidly in the field of formal politics during the last decade. The socialist government of the 1980s and women working in it have contributed to this development. Their efforts have placed the gender equality issues on the agenda of public politics in Spain.