Rita Bosaho Makes History By Becoming The First Black Member Of Spain’s Parliament


When women are making history today for something that should’ve been done a long time ago, it’s clear there is still an inequality problem around the world. Yes it is slowly changing, but far too slowly for our liking.

The woman pictured above is Rita Bosaho and she is one of the women making history. In December 2015 during Spain’s national election, she won a seat in the Parliament for the Podemos party, making her the first politician of color (man or woman) to enter the Cortes Generales.

It only takes one person to burst the dam and pave the way for others, and her ascension to international headlines is nothing short of inspirational. Rita, 50, was born in Equatorial Guinea when it was still under Spanish colonization. Her parents died while she was young and she came to Spain to live with a foster family.

Her foster dad was in the military so the family moved around quite a bit. Rita was the only black child in her family, as well as in her school and university. According to a feature on Rita for NPR, Spain is relatively homogeneous compared to other European countries.

Immigrants make up only 15% of the country, and less than 1% of Spain’s Parliament. The December election saw a number of improvements in terms of equality. A record number of women were voted into the lower parliament (138) compared to 125 in the previous election in 2011. Women now make up 39.4% of the Spanish Parliament, which is better than the US legislature where women make up less than 20% of the House of Representatives.


Rita’s party fared better for gender parity within its own ranks, where women now make up 49.28 of its elected members, according to the Guardian. There’s not much to talk about in terms of ethnic representation because today Rita is literally the first.

Before entering politics she worked as a nurse and volunteered her time working with the disadvantaged populations along the Alicante coast where she was based. Two years ago the Podemos party, which is left-wing, decided they wanted to diversify their ranks and began the search for people who wanted to join them. Rita signed up and is now an important symbol of change happening in the Spanish legislature.

Growing up in a family that taught her the values of equality and justice, Rita has made this a focus of her life and wants to champion the cause of ethnic and racial minorities in Spain. Her historic win did not go unnoticed by Rita, who expressed to the media that it was “about time” minorities were represented in the Parliament.

“Why is it so striking that a black woman could end up in parliament? What does that say about us all being integrated?” she told Spanish news agency Efe.


She says it has to do with a lack of opportunities, something which the Podemos party clearly showed is possibly to change by making an effort to include the excluded.

“It’s a structural problem that needs to be put in context, looking at the social panorama of Spain,” she said.

Now that she has a seat in Parliament, she wants to encourage more women to get into politics and advocate for causes such as ending violence against women.

“We talk about rights and equality and the constitution protects us, but what happens with institutional representation or women in business? Why aren’t our voices being heard there?”

In a Facebook post she expressed how her historic election “opens up a new window of opportunity for the future”.

Although the landscape of immigrants in Spain is changing, there are still barriers to break down, especially when it comes to public perception about racial minorities.


“I feel humbled and proud, and hope I can empower minorities. There are lots of people who don’t understand that I’m Spanish. They see that I’m black — and think those two things can’t go together,” Rita told NPR.

In the 1990s there was a huge influx of (mostly) Latino immigrants due to the economic boom, however many of them returned to their home countries in 2008 when the economy collapsed. African and Arab immigrants and refugees prefer more Northern European countries to Spain so the numbers from these regions are much lower. The unemployment rate sits above 20% nationally, and immigrants fear being over-represented in that regard, and under-represented in Parliament. That is now going to change with Rita.

A community gathering in Valencia organized by Podemos saw locals expressing their happiness in Rita being elected.

“I’m so proud to see a woman — an African woman, no less — representing us in parliament. Immigrants should be more visible in Spanish society,” said Patricia Villalba, an unemployed 58-year-old originally from Ecuador.

Diversity is important. Rita’s win gives hope to many people that skin color, gender and socio-economic background should not limit your opportunities to make a difference in the world.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.