Born in Madrid on 12 February 1888, Clara Campoamor had to make her way from an early age in a society that was particularly hard on women: the death of her father forced her to start working when she was barely ten years old. It may have been this misfortune, however, that forced her to make a living for herself and to take a public job as a typing teacher at the age of 26. Today in The Spanish Club we want to offer tribute to this spanish feminist celebrity.
It was precisely at this time that Clara Campoamor began to frequent the intellectual circles of Madrid and came into contact with feminist activists such as the suffragette Carmen de Burgos. She also began to write for the conservative newspaper La Tribuna, where she met her future colleague in the Spanish Cortes, Eva Nelken. All this awakened her interest in politics and in particular in the situation of women. She began to collaborate with various feminist associations, giving lectures and writing for the press.
CLARA CAMPOAMOR: THE LEAP INTO POLITICS
In the 1931 elections, which followed the proclamation of the Second Republic, women were allowed to stand, but not to vote. Campoamor was elected along with Victoria Kent, who stood for the Radical Socialist Party. It seemed her best chance to bring women’s rights to the legislative arena.
The first struggle to achieve her goals was the drafting of the new Republican Constitution. Clara’s expectations were ambitious and included not only women’s suffrage but also divorce and equality for children born out of wedlock, as well as the abolition of prostitution. Even within the progressive sectors, there was the opinion that it would not be easy to implement such profound changes in a very macho society influenced by a very conservative Catholicism, especially in rural areas. Despite this, Clara Campoamor managed to get a large part of her demands incorporated into the Constitution, except for prostitution and women’s suffrage.
When the Civil War broke out, Clara Campoamor went into exile in Paris, where she remained until 1955, working as a translator. After Franco’s victory, she was in obvious danger of being a republican, a feminist and, worst of all in the eyes of the regime, a Freemason: for this last reason, a trial was opened against her, in which she would have been sentenced to 12 years in prison had she returned to Spain. She later moved to Lausanne (Switzerland) to continue her work as a lawyer and died there in 1972.