08 March 2018

Academic Community Manifesto of La Salle-URL for the International Women’s Day

Today, the 8th of March, we are gathered here to give our support to International Women’s Day, a day which is acknowledged by the United Nations. As a university community made up of men and women, we would like to share some of the events which have been catalysts and brought us to where we are now. We would also like to underline the how absurd it is to have to defend an essential and obvious aspect of our society, and finally, to share some information which we should all reflect and take action on.


Unfortunately, history has provided us with countless events which justify the need for International Women’s Day. Back in 1857, a group of North American female textile workers went on strike to demand better salaries. Then there was the tragedy of a fire in a cotton mill which employed 500 people, the majority of whom were young immigrant women. 142 workers were killed in the fire, which made headline news on March 25, 1911. On March 8 (according to our calendar), 1917, a group of Russia women took to the streets to demand food and the return of the soldiers, which triggered the fall of the Russian monarchy. We could go on...

So, we should keep in mind, that Iceland, the country which leads world rankings in equal opportunities according to the World Economic Forum, achieved this gender equality as the result of strike which had started 40 years before (on the 24th October, 1975). During this strike, 9 out of 10 women went on strike, bringing the country to a standstill by calling on all those women who undertook unpaid work such as looking after children, the sick and the elderly to stop working, and in this way they protested against the difference in the pay gap (which obviously favored men) as well as the under-representation of women in institutions. They demanded that housework be recognized and achieved improvements in the welfare state in the area of child-care. Today, Iceland is a world reference in gender equality. 

The importance of looking after each other

We would like to quote some words from the late psycholgist Carles Capdevila:

Looking after people is the most important task in the world, and the least valued. It is something which has always been, and still is, considered to be a woman’s task, and even now we have female immigrants who leave their own children and countries to come here to look after our grandparents

If we stop to think for a moment, isn’t it absurd to think that we have to protest about something which is fundamental and essential for our society? And the very fact that (from a cultural and anthropological perspective) women have always carried out these tasks and we know that they will never stop doing so, couldn’t we begin to value these tasks more and actually thank women for undertaking them?

Is it not shameful that today we must take to the streets and protest because there is a pay gap? Is it not intolerable that we have to demand equal opportunities between men and women? Is it not ignominious that sexual harassment and gender violence should be reported?

Some data

In spite of everything, the data is still worrying and scandalous. Let's look at some facts:

University, our environment. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, the number of women enrolling in the university is 54%, but little more than 25% do it in the field of Architecture and Engineering. However, only 21% of the positions of management and chairs of public universities are occupied by women.

The future, the world of work. In Spain 22% of companies that do not currently have women in top positions. And while 9 out of every 10 start-ups do not exceed the first three years of life, start-ups founded by women, are 63% more likely to survive than those founded by men. Nevertheless, only 12% of start-ups have a woman as CEO or founder.

Salary gap. A woman's salary is 14.9% lower for each hour worked.

Society and taking care for people. Women decide 87% of purchases in the world, they frankly have the power! Women dedicate 26,5h a week to housework, men, 14h. And almost 70% of home cleaning hours is done by women.

Domestic violence. Do you really need data? In 2017 in Spain there were 49 deaths recognized as gender violence. And this is the tip of the iceberg. Not one more victim!


Summing up, so, as a university community, we clearly express ourselves in favour of equal opportunities between women and men, especially in the workplace for the right to economic independence and society, in general; we add to the #MeToo movement as a denunciation of verbal and sexual harassment and we support each and every victim of gender violence; and we firmly believe in the possibility of building a better world from respect and love.