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Transcript of Clara Campoamor
In this project we are going to talk about Clara Campoamor, who was a Spanish politician and writer as well as a very important woman for the Spanish history of women rights.
She spent her whole life working for women and children rights. She achieved that women were allowed to vote in Spain and thanks to it, women and girls that are born nowadays in Spain don’t even imagine how the life to women was before and live much better.
Apart from that, the works she did were directed to the Spanish legislation, as she was Spanish, but currently we can observe that in many Asian, African and even South American countries, the same situation Spain lived before Campoamor achieved the relative equality between men and women, is happening there. Many girls who want to study cannot do that, their rights are not respected, they are violated and in fact, they live for men and they do not have any liberty of decision and expression.
These differences and inequality between men and women have always existed; men have always thought they were superior to women and we have to change that. Nowadays, as in Spain, many countries have a relative equality but many others are in the situation explained before. Because of that, this is a very important topic that affects to the humanity and Clara Campoamor was absolutely relevant in Spanish women rights.
Clara Campoamor was born in Madrid in 1888. She belonged to a working-class family. By the time she was 13, she had to begin working as a seamstress, but continued studying in order to pass the test that would guarantee her entry into the Law School. At the time when she worked as an interim, she worked her way up through a number of government positions, first with the Post Office in San Sebastián in 1909, then as a typing teacher in Madrid in 1914. As a teacher, she began to become involved in the political scene of Madrid, carrying out a second job in a liberal newspaper.
After successfully taking the Law School entrance exam and entering the University of Madrid, Campoamor continued working in multiple jobs; as a teacher, as a secretary for the newspaper, and as a typist for the government.
She became the first woman to address the constituent assembly of Spain with a speech warning the male members of the assembly that their continued exclusion of women from voting was a violation of natural law. Her strong advocacy for women's rights was opposed, not only by political conservatives and conservative Roman Catholics, but also by men of the left and even the other woman of the assembly, Victoria Kent, who felt that it was not the right time to push for equality.
When her own party decided to oppose women's suffrage, she left the party and continued to advocate for suffrage as an independent member of the assembly.
Throughout her political career, she would insist that her main role was to be a spokesperson for women, and women's issues remained her primary concern.
Eventually, despite her independent affiliation and the strong party system at that time, with the support of women's activists throughout Spain, she was able to secure equal legal status for women in the new constitution.
Following the assembly's drafting of the new constitution, Campoamor became a political outcast because of her outspoken advocacy and willingness to abandon her party on principle. She lost her seat in parliament in 1933, but was appointed Director of Public Welfare from 1933 to 1934. She continued her private law practice, and campaigns for feminist causes, until the Civil War in Spain started in 1936 and she had to leave Spain, when she headed first to South America and then to Switzerland. Although she managed to make a couple of short clandestine visits to Spain years later, she never returned, and died at the age of 84 in Switzerland. Her ashes were repatriated and buried in San Sebastián.
She also began writing political comments and she joined women's organizations.
Some years later, in 1924, Campoamor, who was 36 at that time, earned her degree and began participating in debating and intellectual societies in Madrid. She got very specialized in issues affecting women, including paternity cases and issues related to marriage. She became a member of several professional organizations, where she would champion these issues, as well as in the International Federation of Women Lawyers which she helped to found in 1928.
In 1927 she advocated for improvements of the child labor rights and electoral law changes. When it became legal for women to run for the Constituent Assembly that would write a new constitution in 1931, she stood for a seat and was elected despite her inability to vote in the elections.
-INTERVIEWER: Hello! Here we have today Clara Campoamor, in my opinion the most important promoter of Spanish Women's Suffrage. Why did you decide to start this fight?
-CLARA: Well, it all started in my youth. Working as a secretary for the liberal political journal "La Tribuna" and as a postman helped me to open my eyes and see the reality of the women's situation. I felt really bad and I thought that I had to do something to end up with that situation. Since then, I have been fighting for Women's Rights.
-INTERVIEWER: And was it very hard to obtain those rights?
-CLARA: It was really difficult because nobody wanted to help me. It was a fight between the world and me. I had to face resistance not only in my own party but also from one of the other female members of parliament, Victoria Kent. But the 1st of October, after my victory on the debate against her, the article 36 was approved making possible the Women's Suffrage and my all my effort was rewarded.
-INTERVIEWER: Now that you have mentioned it, we all know that your relation with Victoria Kent is not very friendly, but outside the Parliament do you get on well?
-CLARA: Of course, we love discussing and our political ideas are very different, but we aren’t truly enemies. She things that Women’s Suffrage is a political tool to win or lose votes, but that is a tremendous injustice and I try to make her realize that this is the time to act.
-INTERVIEWER: Why do you think most people didn't want to obtain Women's Suffrage?
-CLARA: It was a political struggle. The left party thought that women were really influenced by the Church so they would vote for the right party and not for them. But for me it was not just a political subject, it was more than that. It was a fight for equality.
-INTERVIEWER: We have heard that you had to start to work when you were only 10 years old. Why?
-CLARA: It was a hard situation. My father died when I was 10 and we didn't have money so I left school and I started to work firstly as a fashion designer, shop assistant and telephonist, and after 1 year I got a job at the Interior Ministry. When I was 22 I continued my studies and in 1934 I became one of the first lawyers in Spain. In fact, it was good for me because it taught me that I have to fight for what I want in this life.
-INTERVIEWER: Wow! It had to be really difficult when you were just a teenager. Do you feel satisfied after all you have achieved?
-CLARA: Yes. I tried to do my best in all the different situations but not always with good results. Anyways, I followed my dreams overcoming all the obstacles by my own. The only thing I regret is that I didn't find more people who think like me in this sexist world, people who could have helped me to obtain better results for this society.
-INTERVIEWER: What is the political idea you think people should follow?
-CLARA: Republic, always Republic! It's the form of government more in agreement with the natural evolution of society.
-INTERVIEWER: Do you have anything you want to tell us?
-CLARA: As Humboldt would say, “freedom is learnt by exercising it! So stand up and do it.”
-INTERVIEWER: Ok, thank you Clara! I hope you have enjoyed the interview.
-Co-founder International Federation of Women’s Lawyers.
-Member of the Constituent Assembly of the Second Republic.
-Writer and activist of various women’s organizations.
-One of the first women lawyers in Spain.
-Obtain women’s suffrage in Spain through her arguments in the Parliament’s debate.
“Decide whatever you want, but facing the responsibility of giving entry to that half of the human gender in politics, so that politics can be done by two, because there is just one thing done only by one gender: giving birth. All the rest are done by everybody in common, and you can’t come here to legislate, tell duties, and enact about the human race, about women and about sons, isolated, outside us”
“Republic, always republic! The form of government more in agreement with the natural development of the people”
“Blame on me all political sins that you can imagine of a women, and give me all your notes of rancour. But what I don’t expect happen is to hear a single voice of the left, for which I have suffered, the only ideology that I keep identify with, and the one that even isolated I serve”
“The total, complete, overwhelming victory of one side against the other will blame the winner with the responsibility of all the committed mistakes and will provide the defeated the base for its future propaganda, as inside as outside of our borders”
The brilliant mind of Clara Campoamor was the key to obtain Women’s Suffrage in Spain, and reading her biography we can admire how she raised from a poor life to a political life, becoming one of the best well-known women in History. Her unquenchable effort for this right reached its aims in 1933, although she was later paid with the repulsion of the new fascist government, reason by which she had to take up exile and live away from the country she had fought for. Some people may not realize how important it was what she got, why is women’s suffrage so necessary? Mainly for two reasons.
The first one is that unfortunately politics do not usually pursue the right way of doing things, politicians seek for power and therefor they want votes. If women don’t vote, politicians don’t have to care about what would women think or feel. In the dictatorship that followed the Republic, women were legally in the same section than deaf-mute and mentally handicapped people. The second reason it’s that women’s suffrage it’s not only something practical but also a symbol, and a very notorious symbol. It means equality, it means that the vote of a man is worth the same as the vote of a woman. Social changes are slow, but Law has to be upon us and lead citizens in the right direction. The legal equality of women would mean also truly gender equality.
María Gómez Gutiérrez
Mª Luisa Centeno Pons
Lucía Jiménez González
Pedro Juan Aránguez Díaz
THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION