A Latin America Advisor Q&A featuring experts’ viewpoints on the progress and challenges of gender representation in Brazilian politics.
Despite taking significant steps towards a more gender-balanced political system –notably the recent adoption of female representation quotas— Colombia, like many other Latin American countries, continues to struggle with the legacies of pervasive social, economic and political inequality that disproportionately affect women. The study gauges the effect that campaign finance has for aspiring female leaders, and puts it in the context of broader social and cultural barriers that hinder women’s political activism throughout the region.
On May 21, 2010, the Dialogue and the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University jointly sponsored an event on gender equality in Cuba. Cuba has a solid record on gender equality based on some social indicators, with higher percentages of women involved in politics than most of its Latin American counterparts, but lacks women in the highest tiers of power.
Women in Latin America and the Caribbean are making political strides. Though long impenetrable, glass ceilings over the halls of power have begun to crack.
Women are breaking the highest of glass ceilings in politics. On Oct. 28, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became Argentina’s president-elect. Since March 2006, Michele Bachelet has been president of neighboring Chile.
Increasing women’s presence in political decision-making positions has been advocated by development organisms, activists and academics as a means to strengthen democracy and to make policy-making processes more representative of wider sections of the population.
The number of women represented in political leadership in the Americas has increased dramatically over the past thirty years. In 2006, Chile elected its first female president, Michelle Bachelet, and Jamaica its first female prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.
Women form more than half the population, but constitute only a small minority of all political representatives. According to the most recent figures, they occupy 17 percent of all seats in national parliaments around the world (Inter-Parliamentary Union 2007b). However, attention to global averages masks important variations.
Over the past 15 years, Latin American women have made notable political strides. Four have been heads of state and 19 vice presidents.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Women’s Leadership Conference of the Americas (WLCA)—a joint initiative of the Inter-American Dialogue and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)—are pleased to present this report on the discussions regarding women’s leadership that occurred at the meeting, “Politics Matter: A Dialogue of Women Political Leaders,” held on November 13, 2000 at IDB headquarters in Washington, DC. We are particularly grateful to the fifty top women politicians from throughout the hemisphere whose thoughtful participation made this forum a success.
This paper highlights the achievements and the failures of American governments in implementing Summit provisions related to women’s rights in the areas of violence, health, political participation, legal rights, and the maintenance of women’s agencies in the state.
The Women’s Leadership Conference of the Americas (WLCA)—a joint initiative of the Inter-American Dialogue and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)—is pleased to present this report on women in political power in the hemisphere. The WLCA believes that the number of women in political leadership is a concrete indicator of a country’s progress (or lack thereof) toward fulfilling its commitment to women’s equity. The WLCA is releasing this report prior to the third Summit of the Americas––taking place in Quebec City, Canada, on April 20 to 22, 2001––as part of its continuing efforts to monitor progress on promises made to women.