Speech by the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, at the ceremony to commemorate International Women's Day


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Santiago de Chile (Chile)


Thank you very much, thank you, dear Gabriel, mayor, minister Orellana, ministers

Today is 8 March. In much of the world we are commemorating International Women's Day. A day that I think it is worth underlining that the fight for gender equality is a global issue that has never ceased to be urgent and that goes beyond borders, that must cross all cultures, all nationalities and all social classes.

Closing the gender gap is a moral duty. But I also believe that it is a requirement of reason. Achieving this would mean, for example, according to various studies, that global GDP would grow by 20% over the next decade. This is a much faster pace than the technological advances that are currently on everyone's lips. We need the determination and courage to do so. We cannot sit back and simply wait for time to tell the story. Because at the current rate, according to the United Nations, we would need 257 years, I repeat 257 years, for example, to achieve wage equality in the world.

For centuries, the world has given up half of its talent, and where would we be today if we had used 100% of that talent? Would we have a cure for cancer? Would there be peace in the world? Would we have abandoned fossil fuels by now? Are we already reversing the effects of the climate emergency? There is no more just cause than feminism, because there is no nobler frontier than real and effective equality between men and women.

That is why for me, as president of the Government of Spain, celebrating this day today in Chile takes on a very special meaning, because indeed, as has been said, Spain and Chile share a feminist government today. Both governments have taken initiatives - and will continue to do so - to advance equality. Chile, for example, did so two days ago by passing the important comprehensive law against sex-based violence.

And I want to congratulate you, minister, and I want to congratulate President Boric, for this historic decision that your country is taking to eradicate structural violence, such as male violence.

A few weeks ago, the Government of Spain sent the law on equal representation to the national parliament, so that women have half of the political power and half of the economic power. I am fully aware that some people think it is excessive, but I think it is simply fair.

If women are half of the population, they have the right to represent not only half of the governments and parliaments, but also half of the Boards of Directors of the most important companies in my country.

Friends, it is a privilege to speak in this forum composed of women who represent the great strength of feminism in Chile: tireless, courageous, who have not stopped fighting, even in the most adverse times, as mentioned here, such as the military dictatorship. In those dark days, courageous women in Chile resisted the infamous involution of that regime. They were, you were, dignity made resistance.

And today, the two governments have signed a joint declaration in which we commit ourselves to continue deepening actions to ensure that adult women, adolescents and girls, in all their diversity, whatever their situation, fully enjoy all human rights. Because that is what gender equality is; it is simply a matter of Human Rights.

Chile and Spain share today that equality is the backbone of democracy. And we are committed to take it hand in hand to all international forums. To make it one of our main and top priorities in our respective foreign policy lines.

And with this in mind, the two countries will make common cause in the objective of mainstreaming the gender approach beyond our borders and to continue participating actively in multilateral fora under this premise. Especially in the United Nations and in particular in the Human Rights Council, pushing for resolutions and participating in debates and dialogues on gender equality.

I believe that the facts, my friends, back up your commitment, yours in particular, dear Gabriel, because since your government, you have placed the gender perspective at the heart of the Administration. You have managed to make feminism permeate, like a fine rain, the political discourse, the public discourse.

And Spain, I want you to know, also has a feminist Government. We have an equal Government with three women vice-presidents. A Government that has placed feminism as the backbone of its political action with an intensity in legislative action and an increase in resources to fight inequality.

Look, the last few years bear witness to that commitment because:

We have strengthened the Abortion Law, which was passed by a socialist president like me, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and we have strengthened the Abortion Law, the criminalisation of harassment of women who decide to terminate a pregnancy.

We have multiplied resources to fight against the structural violence that is sex-based violence.

We have passed a comprehensive sexual freedom guarantee law.

We have equalised paternity and maternity leave and guaranteed the right to adapt the working day; we have created a specific supplement to correct the penalisation suffered by women in their retirement pensions due to childcare.

We have legislated on equal pay and we have promoted a 54% increase in the minimum wage over the last five years, where 60% of its beneficiaries are women.

Much remains to be done however. And the worst thing is not the difficulty of the road we have to travel. Rather, there is a risk of going backwards in what has already been achieved, as the minister pointed out earlier.

We used to move forwards despite the resistance of conservative forces. And now we are facing a real threat from a right-wing international that wants to set women back half a century. Deniers of sex-based violence, of real equality between men and women. Nostalgic for a chauvinist past that we will not allow to go back to.

That is why, however strong the ultra-right and reactionary movements may be, and however many economic resources and media outlets give them a voice, however strong the ultra-right and reactionary movements that are currently sweeping the world may be, there is no wave more powerful than that of millions of women demanding the triumph of reason and justice.

So, today more than ever, rights are not only won. They defend themselves.

On the rostrums of parliaments. At the ballot box with our vote. In the streets and squares where hundreds of thousands of women, and also many men who accompany you, will walk through the cities today, demanding once again something as obvious as equality between men and women.

They will give voice to thousands of daily injustices: of the most bloodying discriminations of which we have heard tremendous and shocking testimony.

But above all, they will once again point to the greatest shame of our time, which is the one that portrays the structural violence to which thousands of women around the world are subjected on a daily basis simply because they are women.

For them, for all of them, we have to say loud and clear: it's over. Advancing feminism is advancing democracy.

Equality is education, it is transformation, it is justice. It is to move forwards to protect the lives, health and futures of women and girls; the lives, health and futures of more than half of humanity.

And at this global crossroads between progress and regression, that is no more and no less what is at stake. So let's act accordingly and of course you can count on Spanish society and the feminist Government of Spain.

Thank you very much.

Non official translation