Yesterday, March 8th, I attended the demonstration for International Women’s Day with some friends! The demonstration took place in the streets of downtown Granada, where it seemed like the city had shut down. Hundreds of people filled the streets, chanting and smiling collectively. The streets seemed like a sea of purple, and I felt goosebumps as I saw women of all ages fill the city center to fight for gender equality.
This demonstration was especially astonishing since, coincidentally, in my Development of Spanish Culture and Transition: Franco’s Dictatorship to Today’s Democratic Spain courses, we recently discussed the repression of women in dictator Francisco Franco’s Spain. Less than 43 years ago, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 guaranteed full equality to women. Finally granted basic civil rights, women gained political power, freedom within marriage, and the ability to make decisions without permission of men. Prior to this point, women lacked civil liberties and were institutionally subordinated to men throughout Spain’s history. Spanish law and societal norms had long been dominated by Catholic ideals, which characterized women as motherly figures and confined them to caretaker roles within the house through a culture of domesticity. The passing of the Spanish Constitution in 1931 marked a groundbreaking turning point in the gender’s history, as the new legislation provided women with considerable elevated social status and political importance that would last through the Spanish Second Republic and Civil War of the decade. When dictator Francisco Franco rose to power in 1939, however, all progress previously made in the 1930s was quickly reversed. Backed by the Catholic Church, Franco’s fascist regime implemented highly repressive reforms in the social, economic, and political spheres that placed strict limits on the freedom and autonomy of Spanish women.
Speaking of my courses, I have four midterms next week, meaning that I am halfway through the term. Thus far, I have learned to a great extent, especially about Spain’s culture and language. Besides my Development of Spanish Culture and the Transition courses I previously mentioned, I am also enrolled in Spanish Contemporary Art, Grammar, and Islamic Culture. In each course, I have tremendously expanded my vocabulary. In fact, the professors often ensure that the students know a word’s definition and, if they do not, they explain it and write it on the board. Additionally, I have discovered that the system of education in my host nation differs to the system of education I experience in the US by the form of teaching. My professors in my host country teach by presentation; that is, they narrate, lecture, read to the class, teach by example, and demonstrate. On the other hand, in my computer science courses in the US, I learn in projects. In this form of teaching, the professor acts as a mediator, observer, supporter, and organizer whereas the students set the objectives, plan, discuss, create, control, and evaluate. Nevertheless, both forms of teaching have their benefits: by presentation, the professor can teach the subject-matter directly and the students’ reactions are immediately evident, and by projects, it encourages independence of mind, learning by discovery, personal and practical experience, and social interaction with others.
Here’s a picture of the patio in my university: