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Women in Latin America – II

In this newsletter, the second in our series on women, we have commissioned two articles looking specifically at the female presidents of two leading countries in the region: Cristina Fernández in Argentina and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. Our contributors discuss whether these Presidents are using their positions to advance the cause of women’s equality. Their conclusions will not make happy reading for feminists.

In our Focus section, Marcela López Levy analyses whether having a female President and more women in positions of power throughout the country helps reduce inequalities in other spheres – such as unequal pay and female mortality related to unsafe abortions. She concludes that, rhetoric and symbolism notwithstanding, few tangible advances to further the women’s movement have been made. (read more). 

Tatiana Farah’s analysis of Dilma Rousseff’s presidency is somewhat more encouraging. Brazil’s president has appointed key feminists to important positions and some advances are being made. But it is a case of two steps forward and one step back. The reality of governing with a coalition means that Dilma is forced to make what feminists would see as some very unsavoury appointments. (read more).

Deeper disillusion with Dilma’s government is voiced by one of Brazil’s leading women journalists, Eliane Brum, who in a fascinating article focuses on two women in the Amazon region, who voted for Dilma and who are already sorely disappointed with her policies. The article stresses a point also mentioned by Tatiana Farah – Dilma’s reluctance to engage with social movements. (read more). In a further analysis of the Dilma government, Luiz Werneck Vianna, a sociology lecturer in Rio, suggests provocatively that her tactic of balancing antagonistic forces within her coalition can not last much longer and that ‘politics is likely to revive very powerfully over the next few years’. (read more). If that proves to be the case, we are in for an interesting time in Brazil. 

Strong female activists have always been part of the region and this week we carry tributes to Domitila Barrios de Chungara who died in Bolivia last week. She defied the dictatorships of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and worked tirelessly to improve the conditions for miners in Bolivia. (read more). 

Another female activist and academic, Marta Zabaleta, is our featured member this week. One of her blogs, featured on our homepage, relates to the escalating femicide in Mexico and the continuing inactivity of the Mexican authorities. (read more). Another article by Gladis Torres Ruiz reports on the 60 women already killed this year to date in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico and that the NGO Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas (JNH) – Justice for Our Daughters – blames multiplying trafficking networks and the inaction of the Mexican authorities. (read more).

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