MADRID – Spain has introduced a gender equality law which will require equal numbers of women and men in elections and on company boards – but feminists said a change in culture was still needed.

The Equal Representation Law will apply gender parity measures to electoral lists, the boards of directors of large companies and governing boards of professional associations.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the law at the weekend ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday. It will be approved during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting before going for debate in parliament.

Spain was “not only taking a step in favour of feminism, but in favour of Spanish society as a whole”, he said at a Socialist party rally.

The law will require women to make up 40 per cent of the management of any listed company with more than 250 workers and an annual turnover of €50 million (£44.32m).

Men will not be ousted from companies to admit more women but future hires to unrepresentative boards will have to be female.

More on International Women’s Day

In politics, the law will require parties to offer equal numbers of male and female candidates during elections, with the aim of increasing gender parity in parliament. At present, women make up 44 per cent of the lower house of parliament and 39 per cent of the upper house.

It will also require professional associations to have at least 40 per cent women on their boards, as well as juries for any awards financed with public money.

Feminists welcomed the new law but said much more was needed to make Spanish society more equal for both sexes.

“It is not simply laws which change society. You have to create a culture of equality. This involves a change of values, education in equality and ending sexual stereotypes,” Miren Elgarresta, director of the Basque Women’s Institute, told i.

By admin