Spain swears in feminist cabinet

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Spain’s King Felipe VI has sworn in a new Socialist government with a record number of 11 women in 17 cabinet posts.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said his new team “shared the same vision of a progressive society that was both modernising and pro-European”.

The cabinet is in marked contrast to the male-dominated executives of centre-right ex-PM Mariano Rajoy, who was ousted last week.

As a minority government, it will rely on other parties to enact legislation.

Including the prime minister, the 18-strong government is 61.1% female, the highest proportion in the country’s history.

Only a handful of countries currently have governments where at least 50% of ministers are women. They include France, Sweden and Canada.

Women have been given some of the biggest jobs in the new Spanish cabinet, including the defence, economy, finance and education portfolios.

Separately, an ex-astronaut has been given the role of science minister.

Mr Sánchez, 46, whose party commands just 84 seats in the 350-seat parliament, came to power when Mr Rajoy lost his job in the wake of a massive corruption scandal.

The new prime minister, who says he is a feminist, said his government marked a watershed moment in Spanish society.

His mix of party colleagues and experienced figures from outside politics is being described in Spain as a “feminist cabinet”.

In a televised statement, he spoke of Europe as “our new homeland” and said he saw his cabinet as a faithful reflection of a change in Spain that had emerged on 8 March through a feminist movement.

An estimated five million women across the country staged a “feminist strike” on that day against wage inequality and gender violence.

One of the biggest jobs has gone to Carmen Calvo, a Socialist who will become deputy prime minister and take charge of a reinstated equality ministry.

In a tweet, the new culture minister paid tribute to his “teacher”, the late writer Ana María Matute, with the words: “Culture makes us more free and more happy.”

As the ministers were sworn in by the king on Thursday, they took their oaths on the constitution rather than on the bible or crucifix, following the example of Mr Sánchez, who became the first prime minister to forego religious symbols during his swearing-in on Saturday.

BBC