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How Spain's new gender parity law will affect companies and government

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How Spain's new gender parity law will affect companies and government
Spain approves new gender parity law. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Spain took an important step in the fight for gender equality this Tuesday with the approval of its new gender parity law. Here’s how it will work.


Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday May 23rd definitively approved its new equal representation law, which will affect big companies and public government bodies. It was first pre-approved back in March. 

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez argued that this was another step in the right direction for gender equality in the country.

The new gender parity law is designed to guarantee equal opportunities between men and women, especially in important positions, both in the public and private sectors.  


When it was first announced in March Sánchez said "not one step back" will be taken in defence of equality between men and women, assuring that the law's new measures will not be dependent on whichever political parties are in government.

It includes clauses to ensure that women make up at least 40 percent of important roles such as in the government and on the board of directors of large companies.  

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"If women represent half of society, political power and economic power must also belong to women," said Sánchez. 

What will the parity law apply to?

  • Parliament and Senate - Parties such as Unidas Podemos and PSOE were already ensuring that they had female representation on their own initiative, but it is now mandatory by law. This means that 44 percent of the seats in Spain's Congress and 39 percent in the Senate must be occupied by women.

  • The Council of Ministers - The Council of Ministers (or Spanish Cabinet) must be "balanced" and have an equal number of men and women, so that each sex must represent at least 40 percent of the total. Currently, the Council of Ministers is made up of 22 positions, of which 14 (63 percent) are women and eight are men.

  • Boards of directors of large companies - The law will be applicable to large listed companies or public interest entities that have more than 250 employees and an annual turnover of €50 million. 40 percent of management positions will have to be filled by women. The presence of women on the board was already a recommendation of the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), the supervisor of the securities markets, but there are many other companies that can also benefit.

  • Governing Boards of professional associations and public recognition juries - The governing boards of professional associations and the juries that award prizes with public money must also comply with the minimum percentage of 40 percent of each sex.  


When will the law come into force?

The approval of the equal representation law means that other legislation already in force such as the general electoral regime, the Government Law and the law on professional associations, among others will also need to be modified.

The law must now be submitted through a long process that includes possible amendments, as well as debates and voting in Congress and the Senate.  

It will only enter into force once it is published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) which will happen once the legislation has made it through the Congress and Senate.

The average time for this entire process is expected to be about five months, which means the law could be in effect before the next general elections, scheduled for the end of the year. 

In 2022 Spain ranked 6th in the EU on the Gender Equality Index with 74.6 out of 100 points. Its score was 6.0 points above the average EU's score. 

Despite this, there is still a gender wage gap in Spain. Women earn on average 21 percent less than men in Spain and they are in the minority when it comes to the highest wage brackets, according to recent data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute’s (INE) Active Population Survey.


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