Since the early days of post-Franco Spain, most pueblos across the country have an Asociación de Mujeres which is supported by the local Ayuntamiento. Each association has its own particular characteristics and projects but the over-riding focus is to nurture the solidarity of women within a society that still has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Europe. As an increasing number of women join the work force, they also have to find the balance between holding down a job and maintaining the more traditional roles. Running a household and meeting the demands of having children are both areas of life that are still predominantly covered by women.
Clearly these Associations have an important role to fulfil. Arantza Puente, a yoga teacher from the Basque country, is the President of the Órgiva Asociación de Mujeres. This particular group deals with a very diverse community of women and that means catering for a variety of different needs. Órgiva, in the Alpujarras, has a large international population of women and is the home to many different religions and spiritual movements. Naturally there is also a strong local community whose roots in the area go back many generations.
The Órgiva Association works hard to embrace this diversity and meet the resulting challenges. “Our differences are enriching and we take advantage of our cultural diversity,” says Arantza. This is reflected by the events and projects that the 130 members organise. The women run a second hand shop, which helps to fund projects and raises money for chosen charities. Available courses and events include reflexology, monthly alternative film screenings, a book club and self-esteem classes. Arantza says that the Association always strives to employ women to share their skills. The Association recently backed a local bi-lingual production of Eve Ensler’s, ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ which demonstrates their conscious effort to embrace the linguistic and cultural diversity in the area.
In addition to these social activities the Association take an active role in the campaign of Zero Tolerance of violence against women. In 2006 at least 60 women died in domestic violence incidents in Spain. The women’s Association hang banners saying; ‘no more death’ from the Ayuntamiento every time a woman is killed, in order to make sure this atrocity doesn’t go unnoticed. They are also one of the first associations to run a women’s refuge, which can house up to 5 women and their children at a time. Arantza comments that domestic violence is still rife within Andalucía and is still very much kept behind closed doors. The Association aims to raise awareness around this important issue and to offer women other options, support and advice. On the 25th November last year there was a national day for highlighting the issue of violence against women and the association ran workshops, provided legal advice and gave out 60 plants to be cared for by different members to represent each of the women who died at the hands of a violent man in 2006.
On a lighter note, the Association has recently published a book called, ‘A Tus Plantas: Alpujarras’, a fully illustrated guide to the herbs and wild flowers of the Alpujarra. 75% of the money raised from sales goes to charities that support women’s rights and issues.
Arantza acknowledges that the association has its limitations but that it is a constant work in progress and is changing and growing all the time. She reiterates the point that all are welcome to come and participate and continue to create an effective and strong Association that can empower women and fulfil its desire to strengthen solidarity.
To contact the Asociación de Mujeres visit their shop which is open every Thursday in Órgiva: c/ Tonia, 12 or contact Arantza: 669 670 453.
BEING A WOMAN
Women got the vote in 1931.
Under Franco domestic violence was not a recognized crime.
Divorce was illegal until 1981.
Abortion was finally legalized in 1991.
In 2005 there were 1,900 reports of women being attacked by husbands or boyfriends.
In December 2004 the ‘Gender Violence’ Law finally passed through parliament – this law aims to assist and protect victims of domestic violence and introduces measures to prosecute and punish offenders.
Zapatero, domestic violence levels are "Spain’s worst shame."
Women’s movements repeatedly report that many hundreds of women are let down every year by systems that are meant to protect and support women. A majority of the 60 women who were killed in 2006 had tried to get help.
Women on the board of directors in Spanish companies is not even 2%
Women are more likely to have a temporary work contract than men and are still paid less than men for
the same jobs.
Zapatero had the first ever female deputy prime minister.
For more information about Domestic violence see:
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