The Spanish Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities (IWEO), an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality through the State Secretariat for Equality, works to support progress of women in all areas of society since 1983. It is specifically entrusted to foster gender equality and the equal participation of women and men in all areas of public life, in particular in political, economic, cultural and social life, and to foster and implement gender mainstreaming.
The IWEO is also the National Equality Body under the Gender Equal Treatment Directives (the 2010/41 on self-employed persons, the 2006/54 Recast directive, and the 2004/113 Goods and services directive). Among specific functions carried out by the IWEO as such are: to receive and channel, in the administrative order, discrimination complaints on the ground of sex, independently assisting victims of discrimination on how to proceed with their claims; to prepare and publish reports, studies and formulate recommendations on gender equality. The IWEO, within the scope of its competencies, also collaborates with non-governmental state-level organizations, public or private entities and international organisations dedicated to gender equality issues.
The Institute of Women was created by Law nº 16/1983, of 24 October. It was born as an independent organisation attached, at that time, to the Ministry of Culture, in order to reinforce the constitutional principles set out in Arts. 9.2 and 14, and to promote the conditions to facilitate social equality between women and men, as well as to support the participation of women in political, cultural, economic and social life.
With the emergence of the Institute of Women came an institutional policy for equal opportunities, gathered under four Women’s Equal Opportunities Plans, aimed to eradicate gender differences and discriminations, since 1988 until 2005. The Fourth Women’s Equal Opportunities Plan 2003-2006 was inspired by the European Community directives and by the Community Framework Strategy on Equality between Men and Women (2001-2005), and sought to strengthen gender mainstreaming, promoting specific equal opportunities policies and positive action.
In March 2004, the government committed itself further by creating the General Secretariat for Equality Policy within the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs, to which the Institute of Women was attached. This institutional framework was the driving force behind the two most significant acts passed on gender equality: the Organic Law 1/2004, of 28 December, on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence; and the Organic Law 3/2007, of 3 March, for effective equality between women and men. These laws were pioneering initiatives within the legislative framework of European Union member states.
In 2008, the Ministry of Equality was created, to which the Institute of Women was attached, through the General Secretariat for Equality Policy. This ministry was responsible for the proposal and implementation of Government policy in the areas of equality and the fight against all kinds of discrimination and against gender violence.
Late 2010, following the crisis period, the Ministry of Equality became the General Secretariat for Equality, attached to the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. After the administrative restructuring that took place in December 2011, and through Royal Decree 200/2012 of 23 January, which created the new State Secretariat for Social Services and Equality, to which the Institute of Women was attached.
The Institute of Women has been participating and responsible for the drafting and follow-up of the Strategic Equal Opportunities Plans 2008-2011, 2014-2016 and 2018-2021 (in consultation process).
Since June 2018, the Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities, is attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality through the State Secretariat for Equality.