Article by Sarah Abbott, University of Mary Washington, December 2013
In May 2012, Dr. Lewis and four of her undergraduate research assistants, Sarah Abbott, Madeline Albrittain, Katie Lebling, and Lara Pugh, traveled to Madrid, Spain to look at microfilms at La Biblioteca Nacional de España. During our week-long trip, we had the pleasure of attending an exposition titled “100 años en feminino” or “100 years of women” at the “Conde-Duque” municipal center.
As we walked through the municipal center we were able to see the evolution of woman’s role in Spain throughout the 20th century. The months leading up to this trip consisted of us studying women’s role in Spain, during General Francisco Franco’s reign specifically, and this exposition brought all of our research to life.
The exhibit consisted of artifacts, posters, pictures, videos and many other resources that showed women’s role in Spain through the last century. It depicts women’s entrance into society throughout this century. From their entrance into the labor force, to their inclusion in public activities, to becoming prominent people politically and socially, the last century shows an evolution from the housewife to an active woman in society, which was brought to life in this exhibit.
As we walked into the exhibit we started at the beginning of the twentieth century with artifacts such as different cosmetics and make up mirrors. As we walked through this chronological portrait of women, it evolved from ads of house cleaners to pictures of divorce rallies and documents appointing women to political positions.
The part of the exhibit that stuck out the most from the general evolution of the woman from house wife to vocal social being was the section dedicated to the role of women during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. This section was the most important part to us as we had been studying this time period for the whole semester leading up to this trip. What stood out the most was a wall that had a post titled “18 Puntos del servicio social de la sección feminina” which translates to “18 Points of Social Service of the Feminine Section”. This was Franco’s women’s group that promoted being the proper housewife and mother, which was a step back in the woman’s progression in the past thirty years or so. However, they did talk about the importance of social service, which was expected of the ideal woman during this time period. This directly relates to women in charity. Although they were not active politically, women during the dictatorship were out in society helping the less fortunate.
After the end of the dictatorship, this exhibit continues to portray women as politically and socially active in Spain. From pictures of rallies for women’s rights to fighting for liberty, to one of the most recent pieces being a picture of all the women in the government at this time, this exhibit truly shows how much women have done to become a vital part of Spanish society.