Misc 06/12/2020

Equality: Seven 'fathers' for a Constitution that lacks a gendered perspective

Marta Rodríguez Carrera
2 min
Un home netejant una pintada contra el patriarcat i el capital d’una paret d’un carrer de Barcelona.

With seven fathers and no publicly recognized mother, the 1978 Constitution enshrines the principle of equality in article 14, in which it postulates non-discrimination for any reason: neither by sex, religion, race, opinion, nor circumstances. The spirit, however, is broken in the self-amendment that supposes the 37, the section that prioritizes the succession of the crown to the male child of the kings, even in the case of a possible older sister. This discrimination is the first of the two occasions in which the word woman appears in the text. In the second, in article 32.1, it does so to collect the right to marriage with full equality. Therefore, the explicit role of women is relegated to either being a second option, or a wife.

For Tania Verge, director of the Equality Unit at UPF, the text "makes women invisible" and emphasizes that the debates "disregarded the demands of the feminist movements" of the time. In that first legislature, there were only 5% of women MPs, less than in the Republic, and society accepted the "formal equality" of the Constitution because it allowed to bury the Francoist legislation that had treated women as minors, recalls Marisa Fernández, from Elna Advocades, who points out, however, that "it is not a real equality". If the norm is the same for everyone "in different circumstances", then it is "discrimination", she says. After four decades, the seams of the text are tightened by a more than evident social change and the push of feminists. Would the Constitution have been different with more women in politics? "Surely yes", answers Carme Cuartero, secretary of the Dones Juristes [Jurist Women] association, for whom in a future modification it will be necessary to avoid "generic equality" and specify, instead, previously "ignored gender-specific conditions".

Progress towards equality has been made through laws and resources. For the feminist movement it is essential that "micro-sexism" is recognized; it is the starting point that leads to "discrimination" against women, says Marisa Fernández. It is about having a Constitution "with a gendered perspective", which includes the importance of care, expands social rights, and shields the "right of women to their own body -abortion-, to sexual and reproductive rights, and access to reproductive methods", but also to a life «free of sexist violence and LGTBIphobia», says the UPF professor. For Fernández, these rights cannot be left at the mercy of the bias of the government and Parliament in power, and she also points out the importance of including the obligation of a "real egalitarian education". That of '78 is an "outdated" Constitution, Cuartero sums up.