Author: Jordi Soler FM Spain – GEC Country Principal
Although the actual situation continues to be difficult to assess, the last two decades in Catalonia seem to have had a happy conclusion in the public sector, since the Catalonian Parliament approved the Law of Equality for Men and Women in July 2015. It was an incredible news, because it demonstrates that the feminist impulse has been kept alive in Catalonia; without it, the law would not exist. It also indicates another reality: that the strong push for women’s rights in the 1970s, which culminated in the Jornadas Catalanas de la Dona and in publications like Vindicaciòn Femenista has not been muffled.
It is not only the English suffragette movement that embodies feminism as a culture rooted in the exploits of its supporters; there are lesser known and less acclaimed stories of women around the world who have contributed to the achievement of great egalitarian goals. It is equally true that feminism in Catalonia was not born yesterday. Since the mid-nineteenth century, this movement has had great figures, such as Dolors Monserdà, Teresa Claramunt, Frederica Montseny, Aurora Bertrana, Anna Murià, Maria Aurèlia Capmany and Maria Mercè Marçal. Alongside these great figures stands another, a writer, essayist and literary critic: María Ángeles Cabré.
She is a “thoroughbred” Catalan, she was born in Barcelona in 1968 and, in the same city, she graduated in Hispanic Philology and was a teacher of the Master of Gender and Communication at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Starting in the late 90s, she began working in the publishing sector; she published poems, novels, short stories, essays, anthologies, biographies, becoming a renowned literary critic and translator.
By her own admission she has been a feminist since childhood, so much that in 2013 she founded the Observatori Cultural de Gènere (OCG) in Barcelona, an independent entity not linked to any political party or association, although it aspires to maintain relations of exchange with all those who are willing to establish a dialogue on equality in culture. The OCG aims to be a forum for reflection, debate and action around women who work in the various fields of culture in Catalonia.
Her book that more than any other focuses on the relationship between literature and feminism in the development of Catalan culture is El llarg viatge de les dones. Feminisme a Catalunya (The Long Journey of Women: Feminism in Catalonia), published by Edicions 62. It contains 50 individual texts written by 33 different female authors ranging between the 19th and 20th centuries. This anthology is, therefore, a brief history of Catalan feminism, a book that highlights the contributions of the past that are extremely significant for the author. Cabré found it frustrating that feminism in Catalonia was little or not at all known and she wanted to claim through her pages the work of some women whose determination and sacrifices served to design a brighter future for women today.
Among the most recent contributions by María Ángeles Cabré it is important to highlight the speech she made on 5 October 2020 on the theme Feminism in times of Pandemic. On this occasion, Cabré pointed out that “in 25 weeks we have gone back 25 years“, denouncing the situation in which many women find themselves due to COVID-19 and the mismanagement of the emergency. The Catalan author continues by stating that the pandemic cannot allow gender inequality to worsen.
In essence, Maria Àngeles Cabré was a supporter of a movement born of the Catalan desire to reclaim the local struggle by giving a voice to women from all walks of life, a movement that extends to become a “movimiento feminista plural” at an international level.