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Spain lawmakers approve gender equality law

[JURIST] Spain's Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Spanish], the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, approved a gender equality bill Thursday designed to draw more women into politics and corporate life. The bill had previously been approved by Spain's Senate [official website, in Spanish]. The initiative spearheaded by the majority Socialist Party [official website, in Spanish] passed the 350-seat body by a 190-0 margin with 119 abstentions and 39 members not in attendance. The minority conservative Popular Party [official website] abstained, believing the bill to be too interventionist. The bill also specifies that 40 percent of candidates filed on party ballots must be female, and also creates a new initiative that encourages corporations to hire more females by giving companies with higher ratios female to male employees preferential treatment when bidding for government contracts. At the same time, the bill also gives Spanish men some rights traditionally reserved for women; it will grant men paternity leave of 15 days that will expand to a month in 2013.

Unemployment levels for Spanish women are double that of men, and only 2 percent of corporate boards include female members. In contrast, US boards are approximately 15 percent women. AP has more.

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