In this harsh, unharmonious age, men and women often make cruel, malicious jokes about each other; for example, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, or men drink beer, women whine.
Be that as it may, Valencians can feel proud to know that the first female Mayor (I’m not sure if ‘Mayoress’ is politically correct, but I prefer Mayor, especially when addressing French students) was a Valencian, Matilde Pérez Mollá, Mayor of Cuatretondeta in the province of Alicante from 1924 to 1930, an appointment she took up at the ripe old age of 66.
Although she wasn’t elected, her designation taking place during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, she was a pretty dynamic Mayor, comparable with our own Iron Lady, the name of which I have no desire to recall.
She built the village’s first road, no doubt to enable all the men to chuckle and whisper sardonic comments about female drivers before returning to tend to their donkeys, and brought electric lighting to the village.
Unlike most people in the village Matilde had travelled, as far as Cartagena (various days’ travel away at the time) with her husband, who she then lost quite clumsily, returning as a widow to her native village, but not before a little foreign travel, which apparently broadens the horizons.
She was a restless soul, writing articles for Las Provincias newspaper, forming a theatre group, giving free piano lessons, inviting foreigners to her house, riding a horse……..
In 2004 the village, with a third of the population now that it had in Doña Matilda’s day, dedicated a street to her and placed a plaque on the facade of her home.