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Clara Campoamor was born in 1888 and would become the most important advocate for women’s rights in Spain. Due to the early death of her father she had to quit school and start working to support her family at a very young age. Despite difficult conditions, she managed to complete a law degree. After her graduation, Campoamor devoted herself entirely to the fight for women’s rights in society.
Clara Campoamor was born in the district Maravillas, todays Malasaña in Madrid on the 12th of February 1888. Her father, Manuel Martínez Campoamor worked for a newspaper and ensured the family’s main income, while her mother earned some extra money from tailoring.
At the age of thirteen, Clara was buffeted by fate: The early death of her father forced Clara to quit school and help her mother as a seamstress. In the following years she worked for several public companies, such as the post office in San Sebastian.
In 1914 she got hired as a teacher for adults, however, as she did not have any academic qualification, she was only allowed to teach typewriting. Additionally she worked for the liberal political newspaper “La Tribune”, which coined her politically. After passing the entrance exam at the University of Madrid, Campoamor started studying law. During this time she more and more noticed how discriminated women were in society and she started to get involved in politics.
At the age of 36 she graduated and was the first female lawyer at the Spanish Supreme Court.
One day she was asked in a newspaper interview if she preferred Spain to be a monarchy or a republic and she answered with her famous words: “Republic! Always republic!” 1931 was the first year in which women were allowed to stand as candidates for the national parliament, however women were still excluded from suffrage. Campoamor was one of the first females elected into parliament and fought for equal voting rights, but had to face resistance not only in her own party but also from one of the few other female members of parliament, Victoria Kent. Due to this conflict she left her party and became a party-independent member in parliament. She saw the representation of women's concerns as her most important task, and managed to help female activists who demanded the right to vote for women.
In 1936 General Franco managed a coup against the Spanish Republic and Campoamor had to go into exile, because her life was in danger in Spain. She could have only returned to the country under the Franco regime if she had withdrawn some of her political statements and revealed names of political enemies of the Franco regime. However Campoamor stood by her principles and remained in exile in Switzerland for the rest of her life, where she continued to publish political and feminine texts. 1972 Clara Campoamor passed away in Switzerland. Today she is considered as the toughest and most important advocate for the right to vote for women in Spanish history.