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The female ‘military service’ that Franco forced single women to do will now count towards retirement

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Adela Carrió had 18 years when she was called upon to fulfill her “national duty.” She was in her first year at University, studying Telecommunications Engineering, and she wanted to get her driver’s license. When starting the procedures she was told that she could not do it without complying with the Women’s Social Servicethe “national duty” that Franco imposed on single women and which was equivalent to Military Service for men.

“I had no intention of doing any of that but, of course, when they told me that if I didn’t do it I couldn’t get my driving license, I had no other alternative,” says Carrió.

The Women’s Social Service was a mandatory benefit which was established between 1937 and 1978 for women between 17 and 35 years old who were single, who wanted to access paid work or an academic or official degree. Its compliance was also required to join an association, obtain a passport or driving license. The activity lasted for several months, was unpaid and to this day is not known.and was taken into account for retirement purposes.

After years of complaints from the unions and at the request of the Ombudsman, the Government has agreed to reform the Social Security Law to equate the Women’s Social Service and the Military Service for the purposes of reaching the contribution period that allows the recognition of a early retirement.

Along these years, various court rulings They supported the right of women to calculate this working time and, already in February of this year, the Supreme Court decided in favor of a woman who was only seven days away from contributions to access early retirement.


“We have been asking the Government for this for years. It is only fair that, as happens with the military, this time of social service that many women had to fulfill serves to calculate early retirement in cases in which they lack contribution time,” says Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary general of UGT.

The Ombudsman has stressed in his writing that the Social Security Law does not recognize any effect on the time that women dedicated to this service and, however, in the case of men, it is considered for the purposes of calculating time worked. he Military service or substitute benefit, which constitutes a discriminatory attitude.

Girls from the women’s section embroidering.

Lugo historical archive

The Women’s Social Service was abolished in May 1978. Between 1937 and 1940 it was provided in social assistance centers, on the war front and in hospitals. Later he was assigned to the Falange and the tasks carried out were destined to prepare women to act as good mothers and wives. They had classes on religion, physical education, cooking, dressmaking and hygiene and home medicine, among others. The service should last about six months but at the end of the Franco regime less time was dedicated to it.

“I seem to remember that I was three or four months working for the Women’s Social Service,” recalls Carrió.

He did it in a library, in the afternoons, “because it allowed me to continue in a university environment and study something even though I couldn’t attend classes because I was providing the service.” Adela Carrió remembers that she was able to decide what type of work she wanted to do. “They gave me a list of jobs I could choose from to fulfill the service and I, due to my circumstances, thought that the job in the University library was the one that best suited me,” he says.

Adela does not need this time to obtain her retirement “because fortunately I have been contributing for many years” but she applauds the measure. “She was a discrimination So, just because we were women we had to do this service to get our license, for example. The men didn’t need it, they could get it without having done the military. And it was still discrimination now, because it didn’t matter to us at all,” he explains.

Favorable rulings

As argued by Ombudsman, many women – the total number is not clear – had to perform this service, but the General Social Security Law “does not recognize” the time that women dedicated to it. However, in the case of Military Service or substitute benefit in the case of men “it is considered for the purposes of calculating time worked.”

In this sense, the Ombudsman has also recalled that there are already some rulings that have already recognized this right. In 2016, a resolution of the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country recognized a woman’s calculation of the time dedicated to providing this female service within her working life to receive an early retirement pension.

“This is a period of active work provided to the State, for the benefit and by order of the State, legally excluded from listing“, reads the ruling, which sees the “similarity” with the male case as “patent” and that is why the same “protective purpose” must be applied. That is, that period must be counted in order to be able to access early retirement.

In another case, this time in Estremadura, the Superior Court of Justice also recognized the right of another woman to receive early retirement by calculating the period of “social service” for this purpose. In this case, the woman had performed this service throughout 1971.

“Social service,” the ruling states, was mandatory and, therefore, its consideration must be assimilated to compulsory military service or to the substitute social benefit of men. Not doing so, he understands, “would be discriminatory on the basis of sex.”

The Supreme

In February of this year, also in the Supreme Court, in a ruling by the Social Chamber, the National Social Security Institute was forced to take into account the time that women dedicated to Women’s Social Service to reach the minimum contribution period required for early retirement.

The high court has applied the gender perspective in the interpretation and application of the article of the Social Security Law that provides that, to access early retirement, the period of compulsory military service or the social benefit that entails it may be computed. replace with a maximum limit of one year. However, this does not include the time that women dedicated to the Women’s Section.

“The literal interpretation of that article would lead to a violation of the principle of equal treatment between women and mensince it would imply discriminatory treatment of women,” explains the ruling.

To the woman who started this judicial process He had only seven days left to have the necessary contribution period to access early retirement. He resorted to the courts to claim that period in Franco’s social service, which he completed when he was 17 years old, and a court of first instance agreed with him. The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, however, rejected that decision. The Supreme Court ruling resolved the contradiction between this decision and the rulings of the two higher courts mentioned above.

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