Spain’s new Socialist government – featuring a groundbreaking female-dominated Cabinet – was sworn in by King Felipe VI Thursday.
For the first time in Spain’s history, 11 women have taken up key posts in the 17-strong cabinet alongside new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The 46-year-old former economics professor, who leads the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, assumed leadership on Saturday, a day after toppling scandal-hit Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote.
Just five women served in the last Cabinet under Rajoy.
“This new government is unequivocally committed to equality. You have heard me say it many times: Spain changed on March 8. There was a before and an after in our country with the feminist mobilizations and the new government is a faithful reflection of that movement,” Sanchez said Wednesday. On March 8, millions of Spanish women took part in a 24-hour strike aimed at sexual discrimination and gender inequality.
Sanchez looked beyond his party in selecting his new ministers including Dolores Delgado – a state attorney who specialized in the prosecution of jihadist attacks – as justice minister, Nadia Calviño – who until recently had been a top EU budget official – as the economy minister and climate change treaty negotiator Teresa Ribera as environment minister.
Other prominent appointees included Carmen Calvo, who became deputy prime minister and equality minister; former Andalusia councilor María Jesús Montero as budget minister and Meritxell Batet has been tasked with handling the Catalan independence issue as territory administration minister.
The newly installed leader said he wanted his new government to be a “reflection” of “the society it aspires to serve.”
“A new government for a society like Spain that is parity, half of the citizens are women, intergenerational, open to the world but also anchored in the European Union,” he continued.
Sánchez faces significant challenges after assuming office. He is running a minority government – since his own party holds only 84 seats in the 350-seat chamber.
With a splintered parliament made up of parties with differing agendas, pushing through major policy shifts will be difficult.
Spain was split last year by the Catalan independence crisis, which remains unresolved, and many Spaniards continue to feel the effects of the global economic crisis.
Sánchez also picked astronaut Pedro Duque to serve as the new science minister and Maxim Huerta, a journalist and writer, became the culture and sports minister.
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Elena Gyldenkern contributed to this report.