Institute of Women


The Spanish Institute of Women, an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of Equality through the State Secretariat for Equality and Against Gender-Based Violence, 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 Institute 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 Institute 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 Institute, 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.

Brief history

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).
In June 2018, the Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities, was attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality through the State Secretariat for Equality and since January 2020 the Institute is attached to the Ministry of Equality, throught the State Secretariat for Equality and Against Gender-Based Violence.

Mandate Type

Predominantly promotion-type and legal support body

Litigation power:

  • Intervening before the court


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups ( e.g. through trainings )
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)
Recommendations on discrimination issues
Publications and reports
Research projects (including surveys)

Other statistics:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)28844230171757913515134021015932
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)5883242724217377554732
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media9178

Other informations about the statistics

Data on media appearance in 2018 only refers to first semester of the year.


  • Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)

Management details


Number of staff dealing with equality issues

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body

Grounds / Fields Employment Education Housing Social Protection & Healthcare Goods and Services Other
Gender Identity
Race and Ethnic Origin
Sexual Orientation
Religion & Belief

Mandate covers:

  • Public sector
  • Private sector

Operating budget in euros

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions)

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

We are accountable to

  • National Ministry