Ángela Cerrillos has advocated for gender equality for a lifetime. As chair of the Madrid Bar Association’s (ICAM) Commission on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, she has spent years organizing what is known as the “women lawyers summit” to share concerns and make professional achievements visible. The appointment with the X Summit of Women Lawyers will be held at Madrid City Council headquarters on 28 and 29 November and there will be approximately thirty speakers, men and women. A month after the elections at ICAM, Cerrillos expresses a wish in CincoDías Legal: “Those who come after us should not forget about equality in the legal field.”
The slogan of the summit to be held in a few days is “Normalizing equality, joint effort”. What actions are required to achieve this?
We’ve come a long way in Spain from a not-so-distant situation where women don’t have the same rights as men. However, the fact that the law gives us equality does not mean that there is real equality in all areas, because the law has to be applied; societal traditions must be changed. Normality at this time involves men and women taking on the same responsibilities, making it easier for both of us to reach the same places or the same positions of responsibility. It is currently the cornerstone of reconciliation, but a compromise shared by men and women.
Many lawyers claim that maternity leave marks a breaking point in their professional careers. How to stop this obstacle and what can the bar association do about it?
I believe that what the school should do is to ensure equality within its functions as a company, to have a voice against the outside and to make visible any discrimination that may occur. We cannot but recommend that large firms have an equity plan, whereas companies of a certain size are compelled to and abide by it. But often the constraint is placed by the woman herself, because the environment she is in does not allow her to take on the role of both mother and bright professional climber, because there is always a wife more suitable than her. So what do we want from men, we want them to assume the joint responsibility of parenting from the birth of their children in order to compete on equal terms in the labor market.
What reconciliation measures should be included in the law?
The main ones are maternity or adoption leave, which should be as comprehensive and equal as possible for the mother and father. The father cannot give birth, but he can take care of it. your child. In the field of the Administration of Justice, suspension of proceedings is possible. Measures in childcare that allow for a lighter run during the months this compromise is in effect.
Are professionals adequately trained on equality?
This is probably why the real equality that coexists with no and legal equality does not happen. This is mentalization. This society normally sees that a man can seek paternity leave.
ICAM appreciated your leadership in promoting legal feminism. What does it mean to be a feminist lawyer in 2022?
Same with another person who thinks that men and women should have equal rights. Not just a paper, but putting it into practice in everyday life. There is no doubt that lawyers played an important role because we were the first to denounce the legal inequality that was starting to normalize. The first thing to do was to make the public aware that this is unreasonable and needs to be changed.
Next Friday is the day against gender-based violence. 38 women have already been killed in this 2022, what is the law hindering?
I have always felt that the most advanced law in the world on paper, the law on gender-based violence deserves periodic evaluation of its effectiveness and the possibility of recasting as appropriate. I’m missing this review because there’s no doubt something is wrong.
At the previous summit, the role of women in post-Covid recovery was discussed. What would be the opportunity cost of leaving 50% of the population behind in this transformation? What role should women lead?
The cost is huge, because while we’re leaving half the skill behind, think about the improvements at every level we missed. The role women have assumed has been care, and the role they should adopt in post-Covid recovery is to be able to perform their profession fully. That’s enough for us.
Has the gender pay gap increased after Covid?
In a survey we conducted at the last summit, 70% of the lawyers expressed this themselves.
Is society still sexist?
Sometimes I think so, but I think it is developing more than reasonable levels, we are on the right track.
What innovations does the tenth edition of the summit contain?
The peculiarity of this summit is that it was the first summit with almost equal participation between men and women, because almost all speakers were women, as it was a summit for female lawyers before. Condemnation of inequality, public awareness and the need for legal reform were initially driven only by women, but we have now come to a point where we want to make it visible that these are two issues. This will be the last task of this board of directors and it is my wish that those who come after us do not forget about equality in the legal field and continue to develop equality policies within the school.
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