Catalonia and Spain take differing views on Women's Day marches

Barcelona mayor unveils plan to address technology gender gap

2020 International Women's Day march in Barcelona, March 8, 2020 (by Miquel Codolar)
2020 International Women's Day march in Barcelona, March 8, 2020 (by Miquel Codolar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 2, 2021 05:45 PM

International Women's Day on March 8 is normally celebrated in Catalonia with huge street rallies and a feminist general strike, but this year the governments in Barcelona and Madrid are at odds over how the day should be marked.

On several occasions the Catalan executive has repeated that they would authorize any demonstrations organized for March 8, as long as they comply with all anti-Covid safety measures.

The interim president Pere Aragonès has explained that, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, the government would ensure that the right to freedom of expression and demonstration can be exercised.

Similar sentiments were expressed by both the interior minister Miquel Sàmper and health minister Alba Vergés. They said that the right to demonstrate must be made compatible with Covid restrictions, and that they will propose amendments if organizers do not outline appropriate safety plans.

Vergés explained that one year into the pandemic, the measures are well known and overcrowding at rallies must be avoided.

"Not possible" on the streets

The Spanish government, however, has taken a different stance, saying that March 8 should be celebrated online, "without putting health and safety at risk."

Speaking following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, spokesperson María Jesús Montero said they wanted to send a "strong message" to the public that "it's not possible to do it on the streets this year."

Montero, who also serves as Spain's finance minister, said that celebrations this year would be "different," following the recommendations of experts.

She also said she hoped that the "imagination" of women would make it possible to overcome the difficulties posed by the pandemic, and make the feminist cause just as visible as in other years.

Barcelona addresses technology gender gap

Also on Tuesday, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau revealed plans to combat the gender gap in the technology sector.

"We need the feminist wave more than ever," the mayor said, but while "great feminist demonstrations" had taken place in Barcelona in recent years, Colau acknowledged that a "massive mobilization" would not be possible. "We have to adjust to the current circumstances," she said.

The mayor also said that the pandemic has highlighted gender inequalities, including the prevalence of gender-based violence, and the proportion of women that work in the health and social care sector.

The council's €2million three-year technology plan is focused on promoting education, training, jobs, and challenging the image of technology as "a man's thing."

On display during Colau's address was an artwork by Carmen Garcia Huertas, symbolizing the feminist movement in the city, representing women of different backgrounds, ages and ideologies that fight together against "inequalities and violence."