Catalan Minister for Equality and Feminism, Tània Verge Mestre, recently spoke on the first two years of the Ministry of Equality and Feminism, stressing the need to have a ministry of equality and feminism that "is top notch, sitting at the table of the major players" in order to be involved throughout the process of public policy-making. "Equality policies now run through all government action; we are only halfway through the term and it is clear that the creation of the ministry marked a watershed moment", she said.
Verge reiterated the need for leadership structure when it comes to equality and feminism policies. "We need this ministry because equality is not possible while male chauvinism, LGBTI-phobia, racism or ableism exist. Equality policies guarantee fundamental rights that affect the entire population", she said. On this point, she noted that "the anomaly was the lack of a ministry of equality and feminism before now".
Verge insisted that "priorities are demonstrated in resources", and pointed out that "equality and feminism policies have grown the most in the 2022 and 2023 budgets". In fact, these items have increased by 153% between 2021 and 2023, from 46 to 116 million euros.
A pioneering commitment to menstrual equity
In her speech, Verge highlighted the Catalan Government's pioneering commitment to promote and guarantee menstrual equity through a highly ambitious and internationally unprecedented programme of actions that will potentially reach 1.8 million women, or all those who menstruate. "We are the first country in the world to distribute reusable menstrual products with quality information on menstruation and menopause to all menstruating women and menstruating people", explained Verge. As regards menstrual education, the minister referred to the "My period, my rules" campaign, through which around 85,000 students from over 1,200 schools across Catalonia received classes during the last academic year.
The fight against male violence: a national priority
With respect to the fight against male violence, Verge pointed out that the Catalan government has made it "a priority, a national issue, tripling the resources allocated to these policies, in order to carry out more prevention and reparation of violence and to do so better than before".
The minister also explained that the ministry has guaranteed, for the first time ever, the right of all women to choose their preferred method of voluntary termination of pregnancy – whether pharmacological or surgical – in all health regions of Catalonia. In addition, free access to long-term contraception has been provided and a new gestational bereavement leave has been introduced, among other measures.
During her speech, Verge reviewed further measures implemented in the first half of her term, such as the action plan to combat aesthetic pressure and the implementation of care policies. Thanks to these policies, the TempsxCures programme has been launched, through which the ministry has provided financing and assistance to deploy almost 900 care services for children and adolescents under the age of 16 throughout Catalonia, freeing up more than 11 million hours for families, especially women.
Finally, the minster made reference to the ministry's work to guarantee the right to a life free of discrimination in any area, and in other policies on refugees and anti-racism. Verge stressed that "all these policies are also an antidote against fascism", as well as insisting that "equality and feminism policies are useful and necessary to improve society". On this last point, she emphatically stated that "they are here to stay".