Spain's New Cabinet Just Made World History & It's All About The Women

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Spain just set a standard that the world should follow. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has picked 11 women and six men to join his new administration, making Spain's new cabinet is the most women-dominated in the country's history. His government isn't just setting national records, though; Spain's cabinet now includes a greater proportion of women than any other in the world.

The 17 new cabinet members were sworn in by King Felipe VI on Thursday. Sánchez, a pro-European Union member of the country's Socialist party, became Spain's seventh prime minister earlier this week when he replaced Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was ousted by parliament on June 1. Rajoy's 13-member cabinet included just five women, making it 38 percent female. Sánchez's, then, marks a 23 percent increase.

Spain has never had such a women-heavy cabinet before — but, of course, male-dominated administrations have been the norm across the world, not the exception. U.N. data from January 2017 that broke down government ministerial positions (i.e. cabinet jobs) along gender lines showed that no country employed more than 52.9 percent women in these roles. If that analysis still holds true, Spain now has a greater percentage of female cabinet members than any other nation.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The U.N. data indicated that only six countries had cabinets that included 50 percent women or higher. Six nations appointed between 40 and 49.9 percent women in ministerial positions; nine (including Spain at the time) had between 35 and 39.9 percent women; and 10 had between 30 and 34.9 percent. The plurality of countries were at the next level down, employing between 25 and 29.9 percent women — and the rest were even lower. Thirteen countries employed no women in cabinet positions.

The analysis notes that not every country had not completed its ministerial appointments at the time. The U.N. didn't even include the United States on the list, likely because that January marked a transition period between the administrations of President Obama and President Trump. Seven out of 22 members of Obama's first cabinet were women (31.8 percent), while Trump started off with four women in his 24-person cabinet (16.6 percent).

Obama had more female cabinet members than any other past U.S. president, according to an analysis from the Center for American Women and Politics. He appointed 10 in total over his presidency. That means that Spain has now eclipsed the U.S. record, both in numbers and percentages.

The U.N. reports that women tend to take on ministerial positions within the environmental and social sectors. But the newly sworn-in female ministers in Spain's cabinet oversee a wide range of domains: finance; justice; equality; defense; energy and climate change; health, social welfare, and consumer affairs; labor; education; industry; territorial administration; and economic affairs.

In addition to being the minister of equality, Carmen Calvo was also made Spain's deputy prime minister on Thursday. While the majority of Spain's deputy prime ministers have been male, the last two were women.

Francisco Seco/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Another country that's recently made headlines for employing record numbers of female cabinet members is Canada (though, in comparison to Spain, it now has a ways to go). Half of all of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's appointments to his administration in 2015 were women, and when asked why, he replied, "Because it's 2015."

One of Trudeau's appointees, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, made an apt statement at the time about why it's so important to have equal representation of women in ministerial positions. "The more diverse your organization, your board, or, in this case, cabinet, the more it reflects the realities of the population we are serving," she told Huffington Post Canada. "That can only be a good thing."

That rings true with Spain's historic cabinet as well.