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Women outnumber men in Spain PM Sánchez's new cabinet

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Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has given 11 of his 17 cabinet posts to women, a higher proportion than anywhere else in Europe.

A self-styled feminist, Mr Sánchez's choice was in marked contrast to the male-dominated executives of ex-PM Mariano Rajoy, ousted last week.

Women are given some of the biggest jobs including the defence, economy, finance and education portfolios.

An ex-astronaut, Pedro Duque, has been given the role of science minister.

Mr Sánchez's mix of party colleagues and experienced figures from outside politics is being described in Spain as a "feminist cabinet". In a televised statement, he said his new government was made up of people who "shared the same vision of a progressive society that was both modernising and pro-European".

He spoke of Europe as "our new homeland" and said he saw his cabinet as a faithful reflection of a change in Spain that had emerged on 8 March through a feminist movement. An estimated five million women across the country staged a "feminist strike" on that day against wage inequality and gender violence.

It marked, said the new prime minister, "a before and an after", in Spanish society.

Who's who in the Sánchez government?
One of the biggest jobs has gone to Carmen Calvo, a Socialist who will become deputy prime minister and take charge of a reinstated equality ministry.

Some of the other new ministers are:

María Jesús Montero, a former Andalusia councillor, will be finance minister

Nadia Calviño, the chief of budget at the EU Commission, will be economy minister

Dolores Delgado, a prosecutor specialising in anti-terrorism, will be justice minister

Margarita Robles, a close aide to the prime minister, gets the defence ministry

Isabel Celáa, a Socialist with long-standing experience in education becomes education minister

Josep Borrell, the former European Parliament president, will be foreign minister

Fernando Grande Marlaska, an openly gay magistrate and former high-court judge, becomes interior minister

Spain's new government of 18, including Pedro Sánchez himself, is 61.1% women - the highest proportion in the country's history. Only a handful of countries have governments where at least 50% of ministers are women. They include France, Sweden and Canada.

Who's the astronaut?
One of the other stand-out names was ex-astronaut Pedro Duque, 55, who last went to space in 2003 as part of an International Space Station (ISS) mission.

An aeronautical engineer with three children, he was selected by the European Space Agency's astronaut corps in 1992 and travelled to space for the first time in 1998, when he joined Nasa's STS-95 mission from Cape Canaveral. Mr Duque served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on the nine-day mission.

He and three other STS-95 crew members were awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for international cooperation in 1999, which called them "the architects of the pacific exploration of the universe". In 2003, he took part in the 10-day Cervantes ISS mission as a flight engineer on the Russian Soyuz-TMA.

Conservative Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, who took office in 2011, lost his job as prime minister last week after losing a no-confidence motion in parliament.

Mr Sánchez won the support of six other parties to remove Mr Rajoy in the wake of a massive corruption scandal. However, his party only has a quarter of the seats in parliament.

On Wednesday, Mr Rajoy, 63, said he planned to leave the political scene, saying "there are other things to do in life than dedicate oneself to politics".

He added: "I had an enormously intense political life and I think it makes no sense to stay longer here."

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