Women and Spanish Fascism: The Women's Section of the Falange, 1934-1959

Women and Spanish Fascism: The Women's Section of the Falange, 1934-1959

Women and Spanish Fascism: The Women's Section of the Falange, 1934-1959

Women and Spanish Fascism: The Women's Section of the Falange, 1934-1959


Using forty-five interviews with former members and sympathisers, this book traces the development of the Women's section of the Franco government from its roots in the Spanish fascist party to its role in the dictatorship up to 1959. The study reveals that despite its anti-feminist agenda, the section was, in some areas, a catalyst for women's emancipation in post-Franco Spain.


The significance of Sección Femenina (SF) to the Francoist State and the lives of Spanish women and girls up to 1959 is measurable both in terms of what it did and how its programmes were received. But although it operated as part of the regime’s bureaucratic framework, sf was unlike any other section of the National Movement. Its ideological roots pre-dated Franco and were set firmly in the Falange party of José Antonio. When the Falange became the administrative framework of the Nationalist State following the Decree of Unification in 1937, sf continued to operate in the spirit and style of José Antonio, interpreting its task quite literally as the ‘Falangist Revolution’.

This gave sf a unique place in the coalition of right-wing groups which formed the Francoist alliance. As part of the original Falange, it had been involved in the diffusion of propaganda and projection of the core values behind the uprising. and after Unification, despite the weakening of the Falange, sf continued in its role of propagandist as if nothing had changed. Throughout the regime, it operated on the basis that Falangism and Francoism were one and the same thing.

The reality was different. the party apparatus of the National Movement was rapidly bureaucratized, membership was often no more than a formality for appointments, and corruption and self-interest grew. But sf was able to counter this by evolving from being an off-shoot of Falange to becoming its ‘ideological reserve’. the contrast outside the Falangist arm of the Nationalist Movement was even stronger. Conservative monarchists, the Church and the Army had no wish to encourage the mobilization of any part of the population. For these groups, identification with Falangism amounted to no more than a sharing of the rhetoric and a common rejection of the politics of the Second Republic. It was therefore the case that while sf was in tune with the broad political principles of the Nationalist cause and, by extension, of the regime, it had its own clearly defined ways of attaining them. SF’s operational style, its structures and its ideological base were rooted in the doctrine of José Antonio. the pre-war Falange had borrowed rhetoric and aesthetics from the Nazi and fascist models, and sf built on these to establish its separate identity.

This was most evident between 1939 and 1942, the years when the . . .

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