Nowhere was there such a large participation in this protest in favour of women’s rights than here in Spain, in what became known as La Revolution Violeta. The official figure is 5.3-million people in 120 cities; all demanding equality where there is plainly little.
In all the provincial capitals across Spain, including Granada, right down to modest municipalities like Motril, Salobreña, Almuñécar, Órgiva, Dúrcal, etc, women filled squares, lined streets, bearing banners and shouting slogans.
One of which; probably the one that brought most smiles to faces, was one chanted in Madrid: Manolo, hoy te haces la cena solo (Manolo, you can get your supper yourself today today). Whoever thought that one up has a promising future in the Spanish advertising world, that’s for sure!
Despite the name of the protest being only one letter away from ‘violent,’ it was all very peaceful – without doubt, the police forces had strict orders to leave their truncheons at home, in a figurative sense.
Even the shops that stayed open found that women were on shopping strike, too. In many cases female, shop assistants were convinced – not cajoled – to join their sisters and did so, in some cases in tears of emotion.
The workers unions were desperate to try and be seen as organisers, but in at least one case, union representatives were told to get out of the front ranks as a protest march surged down a street.
And surge they did – in one city the head of the protest had completed the route and met up with the tail-end, which still hadn’t had the chance to move out, such were the numbers involved.
The Government was flustered and even though still sore from the public-relations beating at the hands of protesting pensioners from the week before, they still managed to get people’s backs up: the Prime Minister of the Madrid Regional Government, Cristina Cifuentes, said that she would work double (a-la-japonesa) to show her support – her comment was quickly disowned by her party leader, the Spanish Prime Minister.
About a month ago in a radio interview, Mariano Rajoy was asked about the question of wage equality for women and he waved the question away with, “let’s not get bogged down in that question…” He didn’t make the same mistake this time round.
Will this be a turning point? Will women get pay equality? Will Manolo do his share of the housework from now on? Let’s see.
One thing is for sure. When I arrived in Spain in 1981, there were no women working in bank branches and less than five years previously, women had only just received the right to open a bank account without obtaining written permission from her husband beforehand.
A lot’s changed, but there is still some way to go.
(News: Spain – Photo: Anne Eastwood)