Spain's Top 5 Revolutionary Female Leaders

Manuela Carmena addresses a crowd in Madrid |© ahora madrid/Flickr
Manuela Carmena addresses a crowd in Madrid |© ahora madrid/Flickr
Photo of Lori Zaino
21 March 2017

Needless to say, Spain has been home to many powerful and accomplished women over the years, and still is today. Here’s a list of some of the most influential and inspirational women in Spain – now and then.

Clara Campoamor

One of Spain’s most influential feminists, Clara Campoamor was known for helping women gain the right to vote. She was a member of the 1931 Constituent Assembly (only three women were part of this at the time) and advocated suffrage, speaking out against discrimination against women, equality for children born outside marriage, and divorce rights. Although she achieved her goal of women earning the right to vote, she was forced to flee Spain during the reign of Franco and the Spanish Civil War, exiled unless she provided names of allies and publicily apologized for defaming the Catholic church. Unwilling to do so, she died in exile in 1972. Today, many schools, parks and institutions bear her name, and the Clara Campoamor Awards occur annually, awarding groups or people who’ve worked hard to defend women’s rights.

Astatue of Clara Campoamor | © -/Flickr

Federica Montseny

The first woman in Spain to be a cabinet minister, Federcia Montseny was appointed Minister of Health in 1936. She fought for the rights of the poor and working class to have health care programs, including preventative health care. She also advocated for reproductive and abortion rights. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to France, where she was also pursued by the Nazis. She eventually returned to Spain in 1977, continuing to work towards bettering the health care system in Spain. Today, you’ll find many health care centers and hospitals around Spain bearing her name.

Federica Montseny speaking in 1977 in Barcelona | © Manel Armengol/Wikipedia

Inés Alberdi

Still fighting for family and women’s rights today, Inés Alberdi spent many years as the director of the Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para las Mujeres (UNIFEM), an organization dedicated to female equality and rights. She was also chosen to represent Spain in the 1998 Eisenhower fellowship awards. She also shared her knowledge as a professor at the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women and as a Professor of Sociology at Madrid University.

Inés Alberdi | © United Nations Development/Flickr

Ada Colau

The current mayor of Barcelona (and the first female to hold this position), Ada Colau is known for her work for PAH, Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), an advocacy group in Barcelona set up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash which helps people deal with evictions due to unpaid mortgages and unemployment. Her dedication to human rights in general, but especially to the less fortunate, has been recognized in Spain and many changes to legislation regarding mortages have taken place thanks to her tireless determination and influence as mayor.

Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona | © Barcelona En Comú/Marc Lozano/Flickr

Manuela Carmena

Madrid’s current mayor, Manuela Carmena doesn’t let the fact that she’s 73 hold her back from making important changes in Madrid. She’s managed to reduce Madrid’s debt by 38% in just a year and a half and her dedication to making sure Madrid is a clean and safe place to live is evident in her reforms. She’s worked to start anti-littering campaigns around the city, planted trees and is working on a plan to reduce car exhaust fumes and pollution in the city, which is currently at an all-time high.

Madrid's mayor Manuela Carmena | © ahora madrid/Flickr

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