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Long characterized in the minds of many by economic crises, machismo, and traditional Catholicism, Latin America today confidently defies stereotypes. It weathered the US-triggered recession, while many countries – including the United States – floundered. Evangelical Protestantism is gaining ground, winning over legions of the Catholic Church’s flock and challenging its traditional doctrines about gender roles. And women have made dramatic inroads in the traditionally male-dominated halls of congress, judicial benches, and presidential palaces across the continent. Progress for women in the political arena has been so swift as to reach numbers many around the world can only dream of attaining.
Despite impressive gains at the level of elite political leadership, the situation for ordinary women in other facets of their lives is still fraught with challenges that are either gender-based or affect women disproportionately. The report begins with the good news in terms of women’s advance into positions of leadership and then highlights areas where important obstacles remain for women in Latin America and the Caribbean.