Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Today is the International Day of Women. In Spain it coincides with the introduction of a new statue entitled The Law of Equality. This is aimed at closing the considerable gap between men and women here. As the father of two daughters – one of whom works in Madrid – I can only say Not before time. For, against whatever parameter you care to chose [except longevity!], women come a poor second here. The headline-catching deficiency is in pay, where women take home 40% less than men. Scarcely credible as it seems, this is said to be for the same work and not just a national per capita average. It may well explain a statistic I read last year, viz. that most of new jobs in the previous 12 months had gone to women, usually on easy-to-terminate short contracts. Meaning, by the way, most of those jobs which hadn’t already gone to even-cheaper ‘foreigners’. Altogether, it doesn’t look as if it’s earnings growth which is pushing Spain’s inflation to levels way above the EU average.

I’ve previously posted a picture of an excellent bit of urban statuary in the centre of Pontevedra. This features the city’s eminent writers, musicians and artists. All of these are men but there are two empty chairs. Fittingly, today these were occupied by cut-outs of women contenders for the honour..

I have some difficulty with the placard. It seems to say ‘Roads have gender too’ in Galician but may not. ‘Ruas’ doesn’t feature in my Galician dictionary and the word for ‘too’ is ‘tamén’, compared with ‘tambén/também’ in Portuguese. I’m sticking my neck out here but it looks to me like a mixture of Spanish and Galician. ‘Castego?? One of my Galician readers might like to help me out on this. Perhaps whoever it is who posts comments in Gallego.

One wearisome similarity between the UK and Spain is that you can’t switch on daytime TV without being bombarded by ads for easy credit. My guess is these relentlessly represent about 90% of the total, featuring such companies as Credial, Cuentaexpres, Cuentahora, Creditagil and Imagine. Mind you, it’s not as irritating as watching the Sky News presenters going through their pathetic comedy routines. At the moment, the two main readers are Irish. Can one imagine French newscasters dominating a Spanish channel? Or – even more surreal – English newscasters fronting an Irish station? Sometimes one can have too much equality. But I suppose it’s fair revenge for centuries of Irish jokes.

Warning – If you were bored by my moans yesterday about Spanish bureaucracy, you should stop reading now for today…… Although I went on at length yesterday about my tribulations in getting my residence permit renewed, I didn’t actually give all the details. When I got to the 3rd bank with the papers retrieved from the police station, they told me one of the 3 copies of the form was missing and suggested I photocopy the one they gave back to me. I didn’t but raised the issue with the clerk at the police station. She thought for a second about sending me out to get this done but then kindly volunteered that, as it was all her fault, she’d do this herself on their copier. Taking the incident as a whole, it’s an excellent example of how complexity and inefficiency feed on themselves and each other to make a monster. The request for a residence permit which is my undeniable right as an EU citizen involves an application form, several photos, numerous photocopies, and two separate [but small] tax payments, each of which has 3 forms to support it. And on top of visiting the police station several times, one is compelled to go to the photographers, the bank and the photocopying shop at least twice. So there are numerous opportunities for errors and document losses. And then there’s the fact it’s in the interests of the clerks to extend the process so as to justify their jobs. All in all, it’s more a miracle when nothing goes wrong than a surprise that when it does. But here’s the Spanish rub, no one here seems to care about the time wasted or to be driven by any desire for simplicity and efficiency. Not even the ‘customers’.


acedre said...

The streets has gender too.

Iso e o que significa e esta escrito en galego reintegrado que e o galego mais proximo ao portugues.
No veran vou estar en Galicia e cando necesites axuda coa burocracia podo botarche unha man.
Un saudo.

Anonymous said...

Rúa or rua (sans accent) means street in Galego (think of the French rue). Tambén is closer to Portuguese usage although it is, obviously, used in Galego/Galician by people who, as your correspondent acedre says, are "reintegrists," persons who favor a closer approximation between Galician and Portuguese orthographies.

Theremon said...

I had some friends who were (and actually most still are) Galician Independentists. Those use this form of Galician language. Their goal is to get as far from Spanish as possible, even when it involves getting closer to Portuguese (wich they preffer). My own oppinion is both are wrong. Galician is a language by itself, growned over centuries. But nowadays none of the Galician forms, the radical portuguese and the official, gets close enough to the original roots wich are those still spoken by old villagers on the rural areas.

As Acedre and anonymous said before the post sais "The streets has gender too". The curiosity is it´s placed near a street with the name of a Galician female writer "Rosalía de Castro". I believe they don´t like the statues, beacuse there´s no women there. Unfortunatly history says there´s no famous Pontevedresas.


Lenox said...

Hi there -
According to the Ministerio del Interior, you don't need a residence card any more (apparently, it's illegal for Spain to ask for one - EC rule). Jolly good. However, the other offices, agents and ministries were never told, so you are strongly advised to get one anyway.
I remember at one point having the vote if you had been here for three years or more - but the 'residencia' of course doesn't put how long you've been a resident, just when your current card is good to (every five years).
The residence card is really an ID card, like a passport, but with your fiscal number/NIE on it, consideably more useful.
As far as the form filling goes - as a cop once told me, we juss lub dat paperwork!