Tuesday, December 6

UN Women opens headquarters in Spain ten years after Rajoy’s PP forced the closure of its office

Since this Friday, Spain has become the thirteenth country in the world to have a National Committee of the UN Women. Already at the time, in 2010, it was the main donor for the creation of this United Nations agency and housed a liaison office that remained in Spanish territory for two years. Until the then Government of the Popular Party forced its closure. Even so, what UN Women opens in Spain is not the same as it was then, now it launches an official headquarters in our country.

“Spain is a supportive country with very strong feminist values. It’s about time”, says Ewa Widlak, who is already its president. The process to get here “has been long and complex”, with a pandemic in between. The National Committee is currently made up of eight women who make up its board of trustees on a voluntary basis. Spain thus joins twelve other countries that already have headquarters: Sweden, Iceland, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Japan, Austria and Australia.f

The office that housed Spain until 2012 was made up of five “dislocated” workers at a time when the organization had 70 of this type spread all over the world. But here relations with Mariano Rajoy’s PP were never easy. “Once the high-level meetings with the government were launched, there has not been a good understanding,” sources from the agency confirmed at the time of closure.

The return of UN Women to Spain comes with a triple mandate, its members have explained. On the one hand, to make visible and promote the work on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls promoted by UN Women; also do political advocacy with public administrations, organizations and companies to promote “the feminist agenda” in our country and, finally, seek funding for the projects that the agency promotes around the world.

The UN considers that Spain is a country “in which much progress has been made” in terms of gender equality, in the fight against sexist violence and in the political participation of women, but it also points out that there are issues “in which that progress could be faster,” explains Widlak. The labor market and the professional participation of women focus a good part of the demands, what they call “leadership and economic participation”. Specifically, everything that has to do with professional empowerment or barriers to conciliation and co-responsibility.

The new national committee, he assures, will have as its objective “to promote the fulfillment of the rights of women and girls in our country” through campaigns and projects to raise awareness among citizens to “break gender roles and stereotypes.” It intends to go hand in hand with the institutions – it has already established contact with the Ministry of Equality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – and with feminist and civil society organizations: “What is going to help us move forward is creating alliances,” says its Chairwoman.

On controversial issues that currently cross feminism in our country, such as the Trans Law, Widlak expresses the position that UN Women maintains: “It considers that each person has the right to define their gender, that trans women suffer much more discrimination and their human rights must be guaranteed.” The president of the agency in our country believes that the legislation that Congress is now processing makes “trans people advance.” “All advances are welcome”, she has concluded.


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