FILE PHOTO: Spain's Economy Minister Nadia Calvino speaks as she arrives for a Euro zone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg, October 4, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman | Reuters

Spain Economy Minister Nadia Calvino yesterday said she would no longer attend events if women were not equally represented among the speakers.

Calvino, who is also deputy prime minister in a socialist-led government where women outnumber men for the first time in Spanish history, said progress on gender diversity in Spain risked backsliding.

“I’m not going to take another picture where I’m the only woman. I just won’t do it. I’m not going to take part in a debate where I’m the only woman,” she said at a Hill and Knowlton event in Madrid, after congratulating the public relations firm for having a gender diverse panel.

“There are many events where I am the only woman because I am the minister. We can no longer consider it normal that 50% of our population is not present.”

Women’s rights have been thrust to the political forefront in Spain.

Even though women get more university degrees than men, few make it to the top levels of financial industry and the business sector as a whole.

Given the under-representation of women on boards of directors at Spanish companies, the good governance code by he Spanish supervisor CNMV set specific objectives to increase it from around 30% to at least 40% by the end of 2022.

Female representation on the executive committees of Spanish companies is much lower at 12.7%.

Spain ranks number 14 in the Global Gender report released every year in Davos.

Four years ago, a local initiative called “Not without women” gained traction and many economists and experts committed themselves to not participating in all male panels, but the move lost momentum in the midst of the pandemic.

Recently a picture at another event with all male panelists including Spain Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares and central bank chief Pablo Hernandez de Cos was widely criticised on social media and raised questions about whether ministers should attend such events.