Article by Katie Lebling, University of Mary Washington, December, 2012.
The Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Españolas (ANME) was created in 1918. This organization was started by Maria Espinosa as a feminist group that created various associations to support women. The group united middle class women who were teachers, journalists, and writers because they all believed in women’s suffrage (Quiza 90). Many significant women activists were members of this organization including Clara Campoamor and Victoria Kent (Quiza 91). In 1932, Julia Peguero was selected to lead ANME. During her time as president, she created La Acción Política Femenina Independiente, an organization formed after there were very few women elected as MPs in the election of 1933 (Morant 29). This group helped women to become more politically aware and active.
Under the third director of ANME, Benita Handles Materola, the periodical publication Mundo Femenino was created in 1921. Mundo Femenino presented to its readers the feminist ideas of other European countries in order to gain support for equal political and public rights of women in Spain (Genevois 198). However after an internal crisis, Julia Peguero took control of the journal’s publication (Summary). Peguero had worked alongside Materola in creating Mundo Femenino and once she became the director, the magazine shifted its focus, eventually dealing with such larger scale issues such as hygiene and education (Genevois 203-4). Peguero believed that the best way to fight injustice for women in government was for women to stand up for themselves and work towards a common goal (Genovois 204).
Mundo femenino was composed of many different sections on topics that ranged from politics to beauty tips. The issues usually began with a summary of items to be discussed along with an illustration and slogan “Paz universal, derechos y deberes, y justicia” (“Universal Peace, rights and responsibilities, and justice”). This was followed by articles about political happenings, interviews with artists and political activists, and book reviews (“Summary”). The last section called “Realces femeninos,” presented recipes, fashion, and other tips for women’s everyday lives (“Description”). The writers of these articles varied immensely with some taking pseudonyms such as Alma Angélico (“Angelic Soul”), to Cristóbal Castro (“Description”). The beginning of the Spanish Civil War brought an end to both ANME and Mundo Femenino in 1936.
Service and social action, part of the “deberes” or responsibilities that accompanied “rights” in the journal’s slogan, appear in various ways throughout the issues, notably in relation to the care, education and protection of children, especially orphans. This emphasis is visibly evident on the cover image of each issue, in which a woman, head and body covered by a flowing robe, holds a child in her lap. This depiction, reminiscent of common images of the Virgin Mary, evokes ideas of maternal care, protection and comfort, manifest in the way the woman’s hand holds the head of the child. The cover image shows how imperative acts of caring for and protecting children were to the authors and supporters of Mundo femenino, and also that, despite its open advocacy of women’s political, intellectual and professional equality, the Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Españolas still envisioned very traditional maternal roles for women and their social action.
In the article titled “Pro Niño,”Carmen de Castro explains how parents, charitable organizations, as well as the State, must take care of children (6). It is the responsibility of the State to help care for children since they represent its future. When children do not receive the attention and necessities that are imperative to their well-being, they can suffer later. Castro compares cultivating children to the farmer cultivated the land: “It is wrong to ask the Earth to flourish if it has not been cultivated. The same is true for intelligence; there are intelligences that are spoiled by lack of cultivation” (Castro 6). Children, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status, who are not given the opportunities to improve their knowledge, will not be able to live up to their full potential. In addition, young girls and orphans must receive the same education as boys not only during infancy, but also through their school years. In order to do so, schools must be given adequate supplies for all students and there must be teachers who have a passion for teaching and learning and must be willing to pass these desires on to all of their students (de Castro 6).
Women’s service organizations could take a leading role in child advocacy, as detailed in the article “En Alicante se ha inaugurado el ‘Comedor del Niño’” published in March of 1936. It describes how the women from La Sociedad de Mujeres de Alicante opened a dining room for orphans, so that they not only receive the food they need, but also are able to enjoy their lives. The article reports that they have already started to make a difference by providing the children with toys for Kings Day and through the services that they provide (Tamause 7).
de Castro, Carmen. “Pro niño.” Mundo femenino (Mar. 1935): 6. Hemeroteca digital. Biblioteca Nacional de España. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.
Genevois, Daniele B. “La función de directora en los periódicos femeninos (1862-1936) O “la Sublime Misión”” Prensa, impresos, lectura en el mundo hispánico contemporáneo: homenaje a Jean-François Botrel. By Jean-Michel Desvois. Bordeaux: pilar ,e, imprimés, lecture dans llaire romane, 2005. 198-204. Dialnet. Web. 08 Oct. 2012.
Morant, Guadalupe Gómez-Ferrer. “República y guerra civil: una perspectiva de género.” Hispana. Gobierno de España: ministerio de educación, cultura, y deportes, 2007. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
Quiza, María Jesús Matilla. “María Lejárraga Y el asociacionismo femenino.” María Martínez Sierra y la república: ilusión y compromiso. By Juan A. Sastre. Logroño: Gobierno de la rioja, instituto de estudios riojanos, 2002. 90-91. Dialnet. Web. 21 Oct. 2012.
“Description.” Mundo femenino. Hemeroteca digital. Biblioteca Nacional de España. Biblioteca, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2012.
Tamause, Rosaura. “En Alicante se ha inaugurado el ‘Comedor del Niño’.” Mundo femenino (Mar. 1936): 7. Hemeroteca digital. Biblioteca Nacional de España. Web. 17 Nov. 2012.