To mark International Women’s Day, the Spanish Tourist Office (S.T.O) has brought together some of the most influential and inspiring women in Spanish history. Whether they be actresses or athletes, chefs or scientists, their achievements are extensive and have helped shape the Spain of today. Here are just some of Spain’s most inspiring women:

Clara Campoamor Rodriguez

Clara Campoamor is widely accredited as one of the main catalysts behind women’s suffrage in Spain, which was achieved in 1931. She was a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1931 along with only two other women who advocated suffrage, speaking out for women’s rights and the discrimination suffered by children born outside of marriage. Women’s right to vote was fully achieved and exercised in 1933 with Campoamor going on to publish “El voto femenino y yo: Mi pecado mortal” (The female vote and i: my deadly sin) in 1935. Her remains now lie in San Sebastian and nowadays many schools, parks and institutions bear her name, and the Clara Campoamor Awards occur annually, awarding groups or people who’ve worked hard to defend women’s rights.

Edurne Pasaban

Edurne Pasaban shot to stardom in 2010 when she became the first woman in the world to climb all 14 of the eight-thousander peaks. Pasaban was born in Tolosa in the Basque Country and completed the first of her 8,000 metre peaks in 2001 when she climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. Some nine year later in 2010, Pasaban climbed to the summit of Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world at 8,027 metres, cementing her as the 21st person and first women in human history to complete the feat. She is admired for her sheer courage, grit and determination having completed 13 of the 14 without oxygen and losing two toes to frost bite in the process.

Elena Arzak

Elena Arzak is widely regarded as one of the best female chefs in the world working alongside her father as head chef of the three Michelin starred restaurant, Arzak. Arzak began her career at the age of 11 becoming the fourth generation of her family to work in the restaurant. Arzak left her home in the Basque Country to independently train and work alongside chefs such as Michelle Roux Jr before returning in 1996. In the company of only six other women in Michelin history, she has maintained the restaurant’s three Michelin stars for some 21 years and counting. Arzak has received individual awards such as World’s Best Female Chef while the restaurant is listed as 30th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz is the most successful international Spanish actress of all time. Born in Madrid in 1974, Cruz entered into a hugely successful career becoming the first Spaniard to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Volver (2006). She later became the first Spanish actress to win an Oscar for her in role Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) scooping the accolade for Best Supporting Actress. Though Cruz has an expansive filmography she is widely recognised and acclaimed for her philanthropic work, donating the entirety of her salary for The Hi-Lo Country (1998) to Mother Teresa’s mission or starting a foundation to support homeless girls in India having volunteered there.

Margarita Salas

Margarita Salas is one of the most famous Spanish scientists in the world renowned for her work in the fields of Biochemistry and Molecular genetics. She is a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, European Academy of Sciences and Arts, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, United States National Academy of Sciences and many other highly regarded institutions. Among her major scientific contributions, perhaps her most famous is the discovery and characterisation of Φ29 phage DNA polymerase, which has multiple biotechnological applications due to its high DNA amplification ability. Throughout her career, Salas has received numerous awards for her work including Award L'Oreal - UNESCO for "Women in Science", Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X, Women Leader Award 2009, and Award "An entire professional life" of the Mapfre Foundation.


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