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S9900676_en.pdf
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN
AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN:
GENDER INDICATORS
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
Santiago, Chile, 1999
LC/L.1302
December 1999
The indicators were designed and the data collected by the Women and Development
Unit of ECLAC in collaboration with FLACSO. The final report was produced by Teresa
Valdés and Indira Palacios, who are consultants with the Women and Development Unit.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the Organization.
Design and typesetting by: María Eugenia Gilabert
INDEX
Introduction
.................................................................................................................. 9
I. WOMEN’S SOCIO-POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
AND LEADERSHIP ON THE INTERNATIONAL AGENDA ................................... 13
II. STATISTICS AND INDICATORS OF
SOCIO-POLITICAL PARTICIPATION ....................................................................... 19
A. Reference framework for indicators .............................................................. 21
B.The indicators selected ................................................................................... 23
C.The information presented .............................................................................. 25
III. WOMEN’S ACCESS TO CITIZENSHIP ............................................................... 27
IV. WOMEN IN THE STATE ....................................................................................... 35
1. The executive ................................................................................................. 36
a) Presidency of the Republic ................................................................. 38
b) Vice-presidency .................................................................................. 40
c) Ministries or departments of State ...................................................... 40
d) Deputy ministers or under-secretaries of State ................................... 44
e) Ambassadors ....................................................................................... 44
f) Governors ............................................................................................ 46
g) Women mayors ................................................................................... 48
h) National mechanisms for the advancement of women ....................... 49
i) Governmental instruments for equal opportunities
between women and men .................................................................... 55
j) Other national mechanisms ................................................................. 56
k) Mechanisms for following up the Beijing agreements ....................... 59
2. The legislature ................................................................................................ 61
a) Parliamentary commissions for women’s affairs ................................ 64
b) Quota laws .......................................................................................... 66
3. The judiciary .................................................................................................. 68
V. POLITICAL PARTIES .............................................................................................. 73
VI. SOCIAL PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP BY WOMEN ........................... 79
1. Unions ............................................................................................................ 79
2. Professional organizations ............................................................................. 81
3. Employers’ organizations ............................................................................... 85
4. Women’s social organizations ........................................................................ 85
5. Women’s programmes and courses in centres of higher education ................ 92
VII. SOME FINAL CONSIDERATIONS ..................................................................... 95
1. Information for change ................................................................................... 95
2. Participation and leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean ................. 98
3. The challenges raised ................................................................................... 100
Bibliography .............................................................................................................. 103
Annex: List of indicators relating to power and gender equity ................................... 109
TABLE INDEX
Table 1
YEAR VOTE OBTAINED BY WOMEN ............................................................... 29
Table 2
YEAR OF RATIFICATION AND SIGNATURE OF THE CONVENTION ON
THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
WOMEN, BY DATE INSTRUMENT ACCEPTED, AS OF DECEMBER 1998 ....... 33
Table 3
FIRST WOMAN TO BECOME A MINISTER OR SECRETARY OF STATE,
BY YEAR AND PORTFOLIO ................................................................................ 37
Table 4
WOMEN PRESIDENTS, PRIME MINISTERS
OR EQUIVALENT, YEAR OF OFFICE ................................................................. 39
Table 5
WOMEN VICE-PRESIDENTS OR EQUIVALENT,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ................................................................................. 40
Table 6
WOMEN MINISTERS, SECRETARIES OF STATE OR EQUIVALENT,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ................................................................................. 41
Table 7
MINISTERIAL PORTFOLIOS AND DEPARTMENTS OF STATE HELD BY
WOMEN, AROUND 1997 ...................................................................................... 43
Table 8
WOMEN DEPUTY MINISTERS, UNDER-SECRETARIES OR
EQUIVALENT, AROUND 1997 ............................................................................ 45
Table 9
WOMEN AMBASSADORS IN OFFICIAL DIPLOMATIC POSITIONS,
AROUND 1997 ....................................................................................................... 47
Table 10
WOMEN GOVERNORS IN FEDERAL COUNTRIES, 1990S ............................... 47
Table 11
WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: WOMEN MAYORS,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ................................................................................. 50
Table 12
NATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN ........... 53
Table 13
INSTRUMENTS FOR ACHIEVING EQUALITY BETWEEN
WOMEN AND MEN ............................................................................................... 57
Table 14
SPECIAL STATE MECHANISMS FOR FOLLOWING UP BEIJING ................. 60
Table 15
WOMEN IN THE LEGISLATURE: COUNTRIES WITH BICAMERAL
PARLIAMENTS. LATEST ELECTIONS ............................................................... 62
Table 16
WOMEN IN THE LEGISLATURE: COUNTRIES WITH UNICAMERAL
PARLIAMENTS. LATEST ELECTIONS ............................................................... 63
Table 17
PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONS FOR WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, YEAR OF
CREATION .............................................................................................................. 65
Table 18
QUOTA LEGISLATION ......................................................................................... 69
Table 19
WOMEN JUDGES IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE, 1990S ................ 71
Table 20
WOMEN ON THE NATIONAL GOVERNING BODIES OF POLITICAL
PARTIES, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ............................................................... 74
Table 21
POLITICAL PARTIES WITH INTERNAL QUOTA REGULATIONS FOR
WOMEN, AROUND 1998 ...................................................................................... 77
Table 22
WOMEN ON THE NATIONAL GOVERNING BODIES OF NATIONAL
UNIONS AND UNION CONFEDERATIONS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ......... 82
Table 23
WOMEN ON THE GOVERNING BODIES OF SELECTED PROFESSIONAL
ASSOCIATIONS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE .................................................. 84
Table 24
WOMEN ON THE GOVERNING BODIES OF SELECTED BUSINESS OR
EMPLOYERS’ ORGANIZATIONS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ..................... 87
Table 25
NATIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORKS AND COORDINATING BODIES,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE ................................................................................. 89
Table 26
WOMEN’S PROGRAMMES AND COURSES IN UNIVERSITIES AT THE
UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE LEVELS, 1997-1998 ................. 92
INTRODUCTION
The adoption of the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1967 marked the beginning of
international efforts to achieve gender equity and put an end to the discrimination from
which women suffer. The second important step was the World Conference of the
international year for women, held in Mexico City in 1975, where a start was made on
producing an international women’s agenda. Although this social process has not been
without difficulties, the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have become
more and more firmly committed to it.
Shortly afterwards, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, adopted by Governments in 1979, created a set of
international standards for progress towards gender equity. With the century drawing to a
close, the Convention has been ratified by all the countries in the region. This represents
crucial progress for women, as they are now protected against discrimination by an
international legal instrument, the binding character of which was strengthened in 1999
by the preparation of an optional protocol establishing procedures for exercising the right
of petition in respect of the Convention and for investigating serious or systematic breaches
of the human rights it enshrines. This protocol was adopted by the General Assembly of
the United Nations at its fifty-fourth session.
10
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Throughout this process, the struggle for equity has brought together a range of actors,
and has been led mainly by women themselves, women’s organizations and nongovernmental organizations. Nonetheless, United Nations bodies have played a very
important role both in legitimizing the struggles of women’s organizations and in providing
advice to Governments and assisting them in their efforts.
Government authorities and parliamentarians have come to play an increasingly
important role, turning the undertakings made when the Convention was ratified in 1979
into public policies.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the regional process began in 1977 with the first
session of the Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into the Economic and
Social Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (Havana). This has since become
a standing body that elects Presiding Officers and is convened every three years. The
Presiding Officers meet twice a year and provide a link between Governments and the
secretariat of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
for matters to do with gender equity and the advancement of women.
The first Regional Conference approved the Regional Plan of Action for the Integration
of Women into Latin American Economic and Social Development, and this was
supplemented in 1994 by the Regional Programme of Action for the Women of Latin
America and the Caribbean, 1995-2001 (ECLAC, 1995), adopted by the sixth Conference
held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1994 to consider the changes that had taken place in
the region since the Plan was adopted and the effects it had had on the situation of women.
Among other contributions, the Programme of Action describes “equitable access for women
to power structures and decision-making processes through mechanisms and actions that
enable them to participate effectively in the development of full democracy” as one of the
priorities and strategic axes for improving the position of women.
Besides this, since the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality,
Development and Peace was held in Beijing in 1995, there has been growing interest in
the development of mechanisms to evaluate the way women are improving their position
in society and, in particular, the measures being taken by Governments and civil society in
the countries to further this process. Evaluation involves not just follow-up of the measures
taken, but quantitative and qualitative assessment of their effectiveness and impact.
11
The Beijing Platform for Action itself stipulates that countries are obliged to monitor
and evaluate the progress achieved in improving the representation and participation of
women. It states that, for this purpose, Governments must keep regular statistics on the
presence of women at all levels of decision-making, both in Government and outside it,
and in those processes that have gender equity as their outcome (United Nations, 1995).
Similarly, they are required to analyse and publish this information annually, together
with qualitative data on the situation of women and men.
In the light of this, at the twenty-second meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into the Economic and Social Development
of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in 1996, the countries attending instructed the
Secretariat of ECLAC to produce indicators for use in evaluating the current situation and
the improvements that could be expected in future in respect of the participation and
leadership of women as an expression of progress towards gender equity.
To this end, a working agreement was signed between the Women and Development
Unit of ECLAC and the Gender Studies Department of the Latin American Faculty of
Social Sciences (FLACSO), within the framework of its programme for Santiago, Chile.
The work was carried out in a number of stages, beginning in 1997 when a set of indicators
was created with a view to obtaining a sort of snapshot of how things stood in terms of the
socio-political participation of women and their presence in positions of leadership in 37
Latin American and Caribbean countries.
This initial list of indicators was sent to the countries, and information soon began to
come in from governmental and non-governmental bodies. In the light of this information,
the selected indicators were revised and renewed emphasis was placed on the need to
obtain data from the women in charge of Government offices for the advancement of
women in the different countries.
The response from the countries was very positive, and the data provided were of
considerable value. Between June and September 1998 the information received was sorted,
processed and systematized. Nonetheless, there were still gaps in the data which made it
difficult to obtain an accurate overview of the extent of participation and access to power
among women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
12
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
To meet the demand for information as far as possible, recourse was had to other
sources. Among these were the latest report of the Women’s Environment and Development
Organization (WEDO), information supplied by other United Nations bodies, the InterParliamentary Union and the Governments themselves through their Web pages, the
FLACSO Statistics on Latin American Women database and some publications produced
by women’s non-governmental organizations from different countries in the region.
The purpose of the present publication is to submit the results of this work so that they
are available to governmental and non-governmental bodies concerned with improving
gender equity.1 It should be regarded as a starting point that will provide a basis for future
reports on whatever positive or negative developments may occur.
At the same time, this report identifies information and research gaps that the countries
can take account of when drawing up their national agendas, so that current shortcomings
can be rectified.
This report is essentially descriptive. It is like an up-to-date snapshot, an overview
with few nuances. Rigorous, contextualized analysis of the information gathered, and
comparisons between countries and subregions, would require more time, space and
research.
The different chapters of this document deal with conceptual aspects pertaining to the
socio-political participation of women and to the indicators. They present the statistical
information that has been collected on the presence of women in politics and society and
on the progress that has been made in applying public gender equity policies. The document
also contains a bibliography, a list of the information sources used and a full listing of the
indicators requested, which shows where gaps were encountered and where the relevant
information was difficult to obtain or unavailable.
1
The information analysis is based exclusively on the data that were available up to September 1999.
13
I. WOMEN’S SOCIO-POLITICAL
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP
ON THE INTERNATIONAL AGENDA
T
he status of women has been a matter of international concern for decades,
both in the United Nations (Commission on the Status of Women) and in the
Organization of American States (Inter-American Commission of Women).
One of the main concerns has been the absence of women from the spheres where decisions
are taken, a visible manifestation of inequality.
As early as 1975, it was argued at the World Conference of the International Women’s
Year, held in Mexico City, that political participation was one of the keys to integrating
women into development. On the basis of an analysis that revealed how poorly women
were represented in leadership positions, it was recommended that extending the
participation of women in decision-making should be considered a strategic objective. A
number of measures were proposed for this purpose, and were included on the agendas of
the subsequent United Nations Conferences.
Some of these measures were: informing women about their rights as citizens and
encouraging them to exercise these, ensuring that women had the right to vote and to stand
for public office, and promoting widespread female participation at every level of decisionmaking.
At the first Conference, held in Mexico City, the United Nations Decade for Women:
14
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Equality, Development and Peace (1976-1985) had been declared, in the expectation that
substantial progress would be achieved over the decade. To this end the different United
Nations bodies made technical and material resources available and created specific
programmes to help incorporate women into development.
Ever since this first World Conference and the first session of the Regional Conference
on the Integration of Women into the Economic and Social Development of Latin America
and the Caribbean (Havana, 1977), regional and world meetings have been held regularly
to deal with the concern for women to be integrated into the decision-making sphere. It is
worth emphasising that major developments have occurred in the international situation
over this period, and the approach to women’s issues has also changed. This is because
more information and knowledge have been built up about the different factors that affect
their gender status, which has led to increasing conceptual precision.
This change was made evident at the different meetings and conferences, as were the
enormous obstacles that still hinder women from gaining access to the positions where
influence is exercised and decisions made in their countries. At the second World Conference
of the United Nations Decade for Women, held in Copenhagen in 1980, the issues discussed
and debated in Mexico were examined anew, it being recognized that little progress had
been made. Whether progress is made or ground lost does not depend only on the
commitment of Governments and international organizations or the strength of organizations
in the women’s movement; economic and socio-political processes around the world also
have enormous influence.
The third World Conference (Nairobi, Kenya, 1985) was held against the background
of a very severe world economic crisis, which had a serious effect on Latin America and
the Caribbean. The subjects of poverty, Third World debt and the adjustment programmes
imposed by the world economic authorities featured prominently in debates among women’s
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other women’s bodies in the NonGovernmental Organizations’ Forum. Certainly, subjecting countries to drastic budget
reductions and cuts in social protection policies was unlikely to advance the cause of
equity. This was the so-called “lost decade” in the region, with ten years of zero growth.
The World Conference evaluated the achievements of the Decade for Women, whose
motto was “equality, development and peace”, and confirmed the negative impact that the
economic crisis had had on the situation of women. The evaluation revealed that, although
15
the goals and aspirations agreed on by the international, governmental and civil society
actors involved had not been achieved, the issue had been placed on the national and
international agenda during the period, and the standards set at that time are now a real
influence on the politics and societies of the Latin American countries, and on the lives of
thousands of women who are trying to develop as full citizens.
It was here that the document “Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement
of Women” was approved. In respect of participation and leadership, this document pointed
to the need for a joint strategy involving Governments, non-governmental organizations,
the academic world and other actors in order to promote the participation of women in
development policy- and decision-making.
During the 1980s, a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean initiated
re-democratization processes. At the same time women, and feminists in particular,
succeeded in giving universal currency to an approach based on the concept of gender and
the analysis that springs from this, which has proved to be an effective instrument for
understanding the transformation of sexual difference into inequality in social processes.
All this has brought to the forefront the subjects of women’s leadership and their
participation in the spheres where decision-making takes place. Against this background,
the commitment of Governments to achieving progress in gender equity has gradually
crystallized, largely in the form of new governmental institutions with responsibility for
implementing policies for the advancement of women. Subsequently, point G. of the world
Platform for Action approved by the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing,
which deals with “women in power and decision-making”, based its strategic objectives
and measures on the consideration that, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
everyone has the right to take part in the government of his or her country. It also pointed
out that achieving equality of participation in decision-making between men and women
would produce a balance that more accurately reflected the composition of society, and
that it was necessary to strengthen democracy and enable it to function properly. Equitable
participation in political life would play a crucial role in the advancement of women.
According to the Platform for Action, this process has the potential to strengthen and
promote democracy by making it viable for equality to be incorporated into public policymaking, for government and administration to be made transparent and accountable and,
lastly, for a form of sustainable development to be extended to all areas of life. It points
out that the empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s
16
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
social, economic and political status are necessary preconditions for this (United Nations,
1975, p. 98). It suggests that, while there is a movement towards democratization in most
countries, women are usually under-represented at almost every level and in almost all
authorities within the State and in executive positions in unions, employers’ organizations,
professional associations and political parties. It points out that the obstacles to full
participation by women derive not only from institutional structures and mechanisms, but
also from stereotypes and discriminatory practices in the public and private spheres. Again,
special mention is made of the discouraging effects for women of having to cope with
family and child-care responsibilities at the same time as they pursue a job, a political
career or social leadership.
Although where participation and leadership are concerned the Platform for Action is
based on the concept of equal rights, it recognizes that the capabilities and resources of
women differ depending on the economic, social and cultural conditions in which they
live. These differences can be seen whether the comparison is with men or between women
themselves. The need to which this gives rise, as far as the State is concerned, is for
specific public policies aimed at groups of women in situations of social exclusion or
marginalization for reasons of age, race, disability, ethnicity, poverty or a combination of
factors, and for policies to benefit women as a whole, in order to achieve balance between
women and men. In short, the Platform seeks equity, which is seen as equality combined
with appreciation of difference.
Within the region, the sixth Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into the
Economic and Social Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (Mar del Plata,
1994), preparatory to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995,
approved a Regional Programme of Action which served as an input for the document being
prepared by the Governments for Beijing. The strategic objectives of this Programme were:
a) The promotion of different forms of affirmative action to provide and extend access
for women to the exercise of power in the legislative, judicial, executive, administrative
and planning spheres.
b) The promotion of initiatives aimed at bringing about conditions whereby women
can achieve equitable political representation and participation in the formal and informal spheres of civil society, in all decision-making processes and in the area of
development planning.
17
The quest for equitable participation is based on the democratic ideal which holds that
actively incorporating women into politics and other areas of public decision-making would
enhance democracy, open up opportunities for creating a sustainable form of development
and contribute to the transparency and general representativeness of the system. This would
be achieved both through the incorporation of an under-represented sector into the public
sphere and through the specific contributions that the social gender position of women
would enable them to make to politics.
The lack of parity and balance that our societies evince in terms of the representation
of women in the decision-making process reveals that powers are distributed unequally in
both the private and public spheres. This means that access is not enough by itself and that
it needs to be accompanied by improvements in the capabilities of women and by State
policies that incorporate this concept of balance between the genders in both targeted and
general policies. There is likewise a need for political action not just to reform structures,
mechanisms and institutions, but also to change stereotypes and discriminatory cultural
patterns. In other words, reforms at the macrosocial level accompanied by changes in
daily life in a dialectical and reciprocal relationship.
Primarily, the idea of gender equity means improving the participation of women by
means of positive action and social empowerment. More or less implicitly, though, this
type of improvement requires both that individuals gain power and independence and that
gender relations change in the private sphere, against a background of respect for cultural
identities, meaning by this not just gender, but also class, race and other types of identity.
Underlying all this is the notion of process, in the social, political, economic and cultural spheres, whereby a range of actors come together in time and in different spaces,
with different capabilities and resources. In this context, the State has to protect, promote,
assist, evaluate and supervise tasks that it needs to perform in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations and civil society, with the aim of implementing more
cooperative, less vertical policies.
This United Nations-driven process of setting an international agenda for progress in
gender equity has been accompanied by other initiatives. Of particular importance are the
Inter-American Summits held in Miami in 1994 and in Santiago, Chile, in 1998, which
involved Governments explicitly committing themselves to initiatives aimed at increasing
the presence of women in positions of power.
18
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
At the same time, the 1997 World Inter-Parliamentary Conference considered the
question of quotas for legislative positions, and concluded that the correct level for these
was around 30%.2 In that same year the Santiago Consensus, proposing the adoption of
affirmative action measures, among other agreements, was signed at the Seventh Regional
Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Santiago, Chile. Shortly
before this, the ministers in charge of women’s affairs in those Caribbean countries that
are Commonwealth3 members had set a participation target of 30% quotas for decisionmaking bodies.
2
This figure is not arbitrary, but is based on the idea that when the representation of a minority group in political
institutions (parties, congress) increases to a figure of around 30%, this group acquires the ability to set agendas
and form alliances that benefit it (See Dahlerup Drude, 1985).
3
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 50 Governments (of sovereign countries, originally linked to
the British Empire) that work for international peace and understanding.
19
II. STATISTICS AND INDICATORS
OF SOCIO-POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
T
o say that the presence of women in decision-making positions is not
commensurate with their contribution to society is not an ideological or
capricious claim, but one that can be demonstrated by objective data. It is a
fact that women in the region have been steadily leaving the domestic sphere and entering
the labour market and different areas of public life. Nonetheless, their new participatory
role is a subordinate one and does not extend to the political and social spheres where
power is exercised.
The purpose of the information given below is to show how limited the socio-political
participation of women is. It consists mainly of quantitative statistical data, but other types
of information are also provided. Taken all together, they provide the basis for different
indicators to measure or evaluate the progress of women and advances in gender equity.
Statistics are numerical data used to record certain characteristics of a set of individuals
or observations which provide a basis for drawing conclusions and making decisions.
They can be used to distinguish between situations, show different aspects of them and
study relationships, and to gain knowledge of a particular characteristic, fact or action, its
distribution in the population being studied and its development over time.
The choice of areas or subjects for statistical analysis is guided by an understanding of
20
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
social phenomena. This means determining what is going to be measured, and how, as
statistics correspond to certain specific criteria or objectives; in other words, not all the
characteristics of a set of people are recorded systematically, but rather the records and
measurements made are determined by a purpose, which may be academic, administrative
or political.
In this case, what are needed are statistics that can enable us to evaluate the progress
made by women in terms of participation and leadership, and help us formulate, implement
and evaluate policies and programmes that can serve to bring about further improvements
in this area.
Indicators, for their part, are measures that are constructed to synthesize important
situations whose development over time is to be studied (Gálvez, 1994). They are produced
from the statistical information available to answer specific questions which are formulated
on the basis of a particular conceptual framework or project for change. They must therefore
be pertinent and relevant measures that derive from a particular process of selection and
elaboration based on the data provided by statistical systems. They may be descriptive or
analytical (Guzmán and Ríos, 1995). Indicators are used to analyse results that are
determined to be desirable in relation to a variable, establish accurate and rigorous
comparisons between groups and sectors of the population, geographical areas, etc., and
identify social problems and disparities. They enable us to study trends, i.e. to identify the
changes experienced over time, be they positive or negative.
In the case of indicators dealing with the participation and leadership of women, the
idea is to give a picture of a complex social process whose goal is gender equity, and in
which different actors participate in different ways. The aim is to understand changes in
social organization, in a culture that has traditionally relegated women to the private sphere,
reserving the public sphere for men.
For these purposes, in this study we have identified indicators of both “political will”
and “results”. “Indicators of political will” are measures that show the extent to which
Governments are committed to gender equity, and they provide information on the efforts
being made to make good this commitment. They are variables of a qualitative type, which
means they are proxy indicators that provide a rough measure of the phenomenon being
studied (Third World Institute, 1997). They might refer, for example, to the creation of
organizations for the advancement of women, the introduction of bills or of regional or
21
local regulations, or the formulation of specific programmes, among other things. “Result
indicators”, for their part, measure the consequences of different processes or actions in
relation to a specific target (Faletto and Baño, 1993). These are quantitative indicators,
measures that may express the degree of success in the form of a percentage or numerical
result, or of rates of change in the ratio between two or more variables.
To appreciate the processes of change that we are concerned with here, it was necessary
to establish a particular conceptual framework that would enable us both to choose the
relevant statistics and to produce appropriate indicators.
A. REFERENCE FRAMEWORK FOR INDICATORS
The reference framework used to identify indicators is the one provided by the
documents referred to in the previous section. The diagnoses carried out for the Fourth
World Conference on Women suggest that the primary reason for the exclusion of women
from public life is imbalance in gender relations (between women and men) and day-today discrimination which extends to the public sphere. This gender inequality is one of the
main barriers to the attainment of social equity and greater democracy.
Historically, political action has produced and perpetuated, fed and been fed by a form
of social organization in which the sexual division of labour creates norms, identities and
institutions that stereotype and discriminate against women (Astelarra, 1990). This is why
the persistent inequities that affect them are also reflected in the political sphere and in the
under-representation of women wherever significant power is exercised.
Although women have demonstrated social leadership capabilities, the traditional
stereotypes of the sexual division of labour that define what is feminine and what is
masculine reinforce the tendency for political decisions to be largely monopolized by
men. Against this background, the presence that women now have in public life in the
region has been achieved to a very large extent through their own political struggles.
These struggles have been waged under adverse conditions, in a culture where participation
and leadership are built on power relationships that relegate women to a subordinate position
with respect to men. To a great extent, the progress we now see is the result of the actions
and role of the women’s movement, both within countries and in international bodies and
22
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
structures. Nonetheless, the way women have acted has differed according to the political,
economic and social conditions and the specific history of their activities in each country.
Participation is a powerful political tool for negotiating with other actors on certain
decisions that affect the gender balance in society.
In the public arena, different spheres and levels of decision-making can be identified.
The figures show that a disproportionate number of men attain to the highest positions,
while women’s access to power and their hold on it are more precarious. While some
progress has been achieved, the efforts made so far have been insufficient.
Political power makes it possible to build a desired order. This order must include
gender equity as a prerequisite for improving levels of participation and democracy in our
countries. Equitable participation presupposes a growing role for women in public life, on
a basis of equality in political and social rights. This means increasing not just the
transparency of political processes, but also the possibility of narrowing the gap between
State action and the concerns of citizens. In other words, the democratic process needs to
be strengthened and deepened.
If participation is about exercising influence in public life, leadership is about the
ability to transform reality and implement plans for social change. In both cases, the idea
is that if they were exercised fully, they would help to shape a pluralist, representative and
participatory democracy. In other words, participation and leadership generate more
participation and leadership. The fact is that overcoming the difficulties that women face
means removing the obstacles that prevent them from participating, and creating the
conditions they need to do so. If the situation is to be turned around, State authorities need
to show commitment to progress in gender equity by reforming and enforcing legislation,
designing and implementing public policies and providing the necessary resources, and
the same commitment needs to be shown by political parties and economic and cultural
agents. There is also a need to remove or diminish those subjective factors that hinder
women from leading an active political life, such as fear of competing with men, insecurity
about their own capabilities and internalization of stereotypes concerning the type of role
they ought to be playing, among other things.
23
B. THE INDICATORS SELECTED
In selecting the indicators, the distinction referred to earlier between “indicators of
political will” and “indicators of results” was applied. The indicators chosen, and their
aims, are given below.
In accordance with the concept of participation that this study is concerned with, the
presence of women in the public spheres and events that are fundamental to the social and
political life of the countries is an “indicator of results”, these results being obtained through
a range of social processes of change and through the application of measures to promote
female participation. The target for the indicator is parity of representation or equivalence
of participation between women and men. This means that the gap between the actual
value of the indicator and the goal of parity represents the distance that needs to be covered
for gender equity to be achieved.
In the political sphere, the areas identified were the State authorities – the executive
(national, local, diplomatic representation), the legislature and the judiciary – and political
parties. In each of these, the goal is parity of presence (50%). Participation in events that
are an expression of the exercise of citizenship, such as presidential, parliamentary and
municipal elections, was also treated as an “indicator of results” encapsulating subjective
forms of participation by women in politics and public affairs. The goal would be for this
to match the female population of voting age.
As regards governmental action, “indicators of political will” include the establishment of governmental mechanisms for the advancement of women at the different national,
provincial and local levels and of programmes in ministries and departments of State, and
the development of specific plans and policies aimed at securing equal opportunities for
women.
In parliaments and political parties, the creation of specialist commissions to deal with
legislation affecting women was deemed to be an “indicator of political will”, as was the
introduction of affirmative action laws and regulations, such as quotas, in national legislation
or internal party rules.
In the social sphere, the presence of women on the governing bodies of trade union
confederations and urban and rural workers’ unions, cooperatives, professional associations,
24
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
business or employers’ organizations, student federations and all organizations that represent
a differential distribution of social power is an “indicator of results”. The target would be
parity of participation on these governing bodies, or at least a level of participation that
matched that in the membership at large.
Meanwhile, women’s organizations that organize initiatives and a political agenda for
women are of great importance in the social fabric of the region, as are non-governmental
organizations. The existence of these, their growth over time and the dynamism they display are indicators of both “political will” and “results”, in that they reflect recognition by
society of the role and legitimacy of these organizations. The goal will depend on the
history of women’s organizations in each country.
Lastly, the inclusion of gender studies in the work of universities (training and research
programmes) is an “indicator of political will”. It shows that efforts are afoot to train
women for leadership and to design policies and programmes of action that are specifically
for women or have a gender aspect. The goal will be for all universities to have programmes
of this kind.
Although the indicators selected for this report express levels of female participation –
the “result” – and the political will to improve these, in future it will be necessary to
construct indicators that look beyond the institutional arrangements made at the national,
provincial or local levels and the regulations devised to promote gender equity, and that
enable the effects of these arrangements and measures to be evaluated.
The indicators described below summarize a range of socio-political and cultural
processes being experienced in the countries and in the region, as well as reflecting the
democratic projects that are under way and the factors that restrain and assist progress
towards fairer and more democratic societies. It is only within this interpretative framework
that the indicators take on meaning, not only capturing the presence of women in individual areas and the existence of individual measures, but showing how women are emerging
as socio-political actors and enabling us to take a comparative view of the region.
These results should be used as a basis for considering why women have attained higher
levels of participation in some countries than in others, and for studying the peculiarities and
obstacles that exist in countries where participation levels are relatively low. Research of this
kind will enable factors associated with progress or failure to be identified.
25
C. THE INFORMATION PRESENTED
As has been noted, the process of selecting these indicators involved consideration of
theoretical, methodological and practical aspects. The indicators proposed in the first stage
of the study had to be refined, discarded or restructured, or a combination of these, taking
account of the information available and standardizing it between countries so that an
indicator meant the same thing in Barbados as in Nicaragua and Chile.
In this publication we have presented only data that meets the conditions of source
reliability and broad comparability. For this reason we discarded some information, reduced
the number of indicators presented, using those that had the most strategic value in terms
of bringing the situation of women more clearly to light, and included tables in which only
some countries appear. As will be appreciated, there are large gaps. Again, as historical
information – i.e. data not just for the present but for previous periods as well – was
obtained only very rarely, it was not possible to show how the different indicators had
developed.
All that is provided here is a snapshot of the current situation, which cannot be interpreted
in isolation. The female participation that these data reveal is taking place against different
political backgrounds with divergent histories, with different electoral and party laws, and
in the context of political modernization and decentralization reforms that are peculiar to
each country. For this reason, substantive comparative research will be required to interpret
them properly.
III. WOMEN’S ACCESS TO CITIZENSHIP
T
o understand and evaluate the current participation of women in public life,
we need to look back at this century’s history and identify the moment when
the women of Latin America and the Caribbean were admitted to citizenship;
in other words, when they obtained the right to vote. It is also pertinent to consider the
extension of citizenship from the national sphere to that of the world, the acquisition of
rights in international legislation, which occurred when the countries ratified the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Although the history taught in the countries of the region systematically passes over
the collective action of women, we now have access to chronicles and to pioneering and
modern-day research that reveal a whole range of female experience in the field of social
and political participation. These date back to the creation of the national States, and translate
into growing assertiveness in different local and national spheres.
In this process, obtaining the vote was a crucial milestone. The vote opened the way to
citizenship by giving women the political right to choose and be chosen in democratic
elections. It was also a starting point for gender equity, and for this reason it was one of the
main priorities of women’s movements at the turn of the century. The struggle for female
suffrage brought a wide variety of women together into a broad and diverse movement,
although the path was not always smooth. Based on the ideas of European liberalism,
28
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
socialism and anarchism from the last century, and on the experience of European suffragette
movements, the first women’s movements opposed rules and practices that discriminated
against them, the right to vote being one of their most important demands. Feminist leaders
and free-thinking women from Europe travelled to the new world to spread emancipationist
thinking. This led to the birth of organizations and groups that disseminated these ideas
through women’s meetings and magazines.
In at least four international women’s congresses held in Latin America (Argentina in
1910, Chile in 1923, Peru in 1924 and Colombia in 1930), the right to vote was at the
centre of the debate. Some of their leaders participated in the creation of the Inter-American
Commission of Women, whose first conference was held in 1930 in Havana, Cuba.
Suffragette groups were formed in almost all the countries, and women’s parties were also
created to lead the struggle in Argentina (1918), Brazil (1910), Cuba (1914), Chile (1922
and 1924) and Panama (1923). Their actions and their alliances with other political parties,
assisted by the women’s and feminist press and street protests and demonstrations,
eventually led to women obtaining the right to vote.
In some countries, years of hard struggle – up to half a century in Chile and Mexico –
were needed before parliamentarians and the Government accepted the demands of women.
It was men that had to pass the relevant legislation or decree, and the inclusion of women
awoke fears of various kinds in many of them, as it meant breaking with sexual segregation
between public and private life and launching a process whose effects were impossible to
foresee.
In some cases, women based their demand for voting rights on national constitutions
that did not explicitly deny them. In Ecuador, the vote was granted to women without
any collective action on their part, at the initiative of the President. In other countries,
it was the action undertaken by the Inter-American Commission of Women and the
United Nations that helped women to achieve citizenship. More than three decades
would pass before Latin American and Caribbean women could vote en masse in
presidential elections. The first country to grant women the right to vote was Ecuador,
in 1929, and the last two were Bahamas and Paraguay, in 1961. In the 1930s women
obtained this right in just three countries, Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay, while in the
1940s it was obtained in 11 countries. In the 1950s the figure was 18, and in the 1960s
it was two.
29
Table 1
YEAR VOTE OBTAINED BY WOMEN
(in chronological order)
COUNTRY
YEAR
Ecuador
Uruguay
Brazil
Cuba
Dominican Republic
Jamaica
Guatemala
Panama
Trinidad and Tobago
Argentina
Aruba
Surinam
Chile
Costa Rica
British Virgin Islands
El Salvador
Haiti
Antigua and Barbuda
Barbados
Dominica
Grenada
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Lucia
Bolivia
Guyana
Mexico
Belize
Colombia
Honduras
Nicaragua
Peru
Bahamas
Paraguay
1929
1932
1932
1934
1942
1944
1946
1946
1946
1947
1948
1948
1949
1949
1950
1950
1950
1951
1951
1951
1951
1951
1951
1951
1952
1953
1953
1954
1954
1955
1955
1955
1961
1961
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social
Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Barbados, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Women’s Desk - Chief Minister’s Office, British Virgin Islands, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of
Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Web page of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), [http://
www.ipu.org/wmn-e/suffrage.htm].
30
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
In the non-Spanish-speaking Caribbean, the first country to grant women the vote was
Jamaica, and a large number of countries did not do so until the 1950s. In 1951, seven
countries recognized this right.
In those countries that were under colonial government, women obtained the vote at
the same time as in the mother country.
In Bahamas, Chile, Ecuador and Panama, women obtained partial citizenship. In some
cases, they only had the right to vote in municipal elections, while in others they were able
to vote but were not eligible to stand for elected positions. In other words, they had to
acquire some experience before becoming full citizens. In the Dominican Republic, they
had two voting “rehearsals” before obtaining real citizenship.
Other countries, on the other hand, initially restricted voting rights to women who
owned a certain amount of property, while almost all of them imposed an educational
requirement. Illiterate women had to wait, in some cases, until the 1980s before they could
exercise citizenship. In a continent where a high percentage of the population is rural and
indigenous, this marginalized millions of women. The requirement for voters to be registered
on electoral rolls also made it very difficult to exercise the right that had been acquired.
At present, voting is a universal right in all the countries of the region and, except in
Cuba and Nicaragua, where people can vote from the age of 16, young men and women
obtain citizenship at the age of 18. In some countries voting is compulsory, examples
being Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras,
Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay. The obligation to vote is modified in some
countries; in Brazil, for example, it is compulsory only between the ages of 18 and 70,
while in other countries, such as Bolivia, married people have the right to vote from the
age of 16. In some countries registration is voluntary. In others, such as Argentina, it is
automatic once voting age is reached.
Nonetheless, it must be recalled that the ability of women to exercise their citizenship
has been limited by the suspension or restriction of political rights decreed by the different
military dictators and authoritarian Governments that have ravaged numerous countries in
the region. Because of this, in some countries women have been able to exercise their right
on only a few occasions. The redemocratization processes of the 1980s unquestionably
provided a vital opportunity for women to experience democracy in practice. In Paraguay,
women did not vote in contested elections until 1993.
31
Throughout the region, obtaining the vote marked a decisive step forward in the exercise
of public decision-making by women. In the countries, the legislative debate on the subject
led on to discussions about the inclusion of women in political life. This meant that the
traditional view that women belonged exclusively to the private sphere and men to the
public one had to be discarded.
The struggle for female citizenship did not end once the vote had been won, but
continued over the years as women set their sights on winning economic and social rights.
The 1970s and subsequent decades were fruitful in laying the groundwork for the extension
of citizenship from the national to the international sphere, the latter being understood as
a process that is continually being constructed and that is driven primarily by “the right to
have rights” (Lefort, 1987 and Jelin, 1996).
As a result of the work done since 1946 by the United Nations Commission on the
Status of Women, in December 1979 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, laying
the foundations of new, internationally recognized rights for women. Once the countries
had ratified this Convention, women could enforce compliance.
The Convention is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seeks to
secure respect for equality of rights between women and men. It expresses the view that,
despite improvements in the status of women, there are still situations of serious
discrimination in the world. The Convention deems discrimination against women to be
“any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or
purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women (...)
of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural,
civil or any other field” (United Nations, 1979a). It refers to political, civil, economic and
social rights, to reproductive rights and to the impact of cultural factors and gender relations
on human rights.
In the area of political rights, there is concern about the right to vote and to stand for
decision-making positions, the aim being essentially to guarantee women’s right of public
representation. In respect of civil rights, the concern is for the legal status of married
women, equality before the law and the family. In the case of economic and social rights,
the focus is on education, employment discrimination, health, family services, access to
credit and recreation and culture. Where reproductive rights are concerned, the emphasis
32
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
is on the right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of children,
access to information and education and the means of exercising them. Particular emphasis
is placed on the situation of rural women.
The Convention also addresses the relationship between the reproductive role of women
and discrimination. Reproduction is approached from the point of view not of family
planning but of individual rights and freedom to make choices about sexuality and
reproduction.
Lastly, it touches on the influence of culture and tradition as factors that can make it
difficult for women to exercise rights. More or less institutionalized stereotypes, norms
and customs mould the characteristics and attributes of gender relations; in particular,
they have brought about a situation in which women are subordinated and undervalued,
and have created roles and legal and social conditions that have placed women in a position
of discrimination.
To ensure compliance, the Convention set up a committee of experts. This is composed
of 23 women experts appointed by the countries on the basis of what are considered to be
their moral qualities and technical competence in the areas covered by the Convention.
Every four years or so the Governments have to submit a national report to the Committee
for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is responsible for
following up the Convention, setting out the measures that have been implemented during
the preceding period to put the principles of the Convention into effect.
The importance of this Convention lies in the fact that it places discrimination against
women in the context of equity and respect for human rights from a gender standpoint, not
just theoretically but in political terms as well, meaning that it proposes a strategic agenda
for women’s rights. In September 1981, when the number of countries to have ratified it
rose to twenty, it acquired binding force for those countries. This means that the Convention
is an international legal instrument which obliges the countries that have ratified it to draw
up national agendas for the advancement of women and gender equity, and to ensure they
are followed.
33
Table 2
YEAR OF RATIFICATION AND SIGNATURE OF THE CONVENTION ON THE
ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN, BY DATE
INSTRUMENT ACCEPTED, AS OF DECEMBER 1998
COUNTRY
YEAR
Barbados
Cuba
Dominica
Guyana
Ecuador
El Salvador
Haiti
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines a
Uruguay
Colombia
Guatemala
Peru
Dominican Republic
Honduras
Saint Lucia
Venezuela
Brazil
Jamaica
Argentina
Saint Kitts and Nevis a
British Virgin Islands
Costa Rica
Paraguay a
Antigua and Barbuda a
Chile
Belize
Bolivia
Grenada
Trinidad and Tobago
Netherlands Antilles b
Aruba
Bahamas a
Surinam a
1980
1980
1980
1980
1981
1981
1981
1981
1981
1981
1981
1981
1982
1982
1982
1982
1983
1983
1983
1984
1984
1985
1985
1986
1986
1987
1989
1989
1990
1990
1990
1990
1991
1991
1993
1993
a Ratification in the sense of acceptance or adherence.
b Dependency of the Netherlands.
Source: Web page of the United Nations, [http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/ratifica.htm].
34
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
By 1998, 154 countries were party to this Convention, including all the countries of
Latin America and the Caribbean. In the cases of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Surinam, ratification
was carried out on the basis of agreement and acceptance. What this means is that although
these countries agree with the general principles, they do not undertake to amend national
laws and draw up plans accordingly. Eight countries have expressed reservations, meaning
that although they have ratified the Convention, the States concerned do not accept certain
articles which they deem to be detrimental to the independence of the country, be this for
political, ideological, legal or cultural reasons. They are: Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Cuba,
El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, and the reservations relate to
all or part of article 29, which deals with the resolution of disputes between countries that
are party to the Convention through the arbitration of the International Court of Justice. In
the case of Bahamas, reservations were also entered for articles: 2(a), which makes it
obligatory to incorporate equality between women and men into the Constitution and
legislate to ensure that it is actually exercised; 9 paragraph 2, which guarantees the
nationality of children for both men and women; and 16 paragraph 1(h), which establishes
the equality of men and women when marrying.
As regards the composition of the CEDAW Committee, in 1998 it contained three
representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean: Ecuador, Cuba and Mexico. The
term of the representative from Ecuador expired that same year, whilst the terms of the
others expire in 2000.
Ratification of the Convention is an indicator that reveals the political will of States to
adhere to the international agenda for the attainment of gender equity. Nonetheless, there
is a need to know what status it has in a country’s legislation and the extent to which this
has been adapted to the Convention. In some countries it has been turned into national law.
In others, the approach taken has been to amend existing laws bit by bit. In federal countries,
such as Brazil, there are variations between one state and another.
35
IV. WOMEN IN THE STATE
A
ccession to citizenship gave women the key to institutional politics in all the
countries. Nonetheless, their entry into this sphere was not automatic, and
there were considerable variations between the different countries and, within
them, between different State authorities, depending on their political systems.
Women gained access to the executive level rather slowly and even tardily, if we compare the date they obtained the vote with that of the first appointment of a women as a
minister or secretary of State. Since the 1970s some women in the region have temporarily
held the highest office, but only in 1989 did a woman attain to the presidency of a country
through democratic elections.
Women had already entered the legislature, but in very small numbers. Women had
been incorporated into the judiciary earlier, however, as many had embarked on a judicial
career when the right to vote was obtained. Despite this, access to supreme courts was
denied them for many years, and still is in many countries of the region. This situation has
changed thanks to the major reforms made to the judiciary in recent years. The Caribbean
countries are the exception.
36
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
1. THE EXECUTIVE
The incorporation of women at the minister or secretary of State level began in Cuba,
where a women minister (without portfolio) was appointed in 1948.
The next country in Latin America to take this step was Panama, which in 1950 appointed
a woman as Minister of Labour, Social Welfare and Public Health, followed in 1952 by
Chile, which appointed a women Minister of Justice. The last countries to bring a woman
into the cabinet were Aruba, Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, which did not do so
until the 1990s.
Most of the ministries occupied by these pioneers were concerned with social affairs:
education, health, labour and social welfare, justice. No woman was given the economic,
finance, defence or foreign affairs portfolios, let alone any eminently political ministry.
This reveals how the female role was extended from the private to the public sphere, a
situation which has tended to change very slowly with time, although it is becoming more
and more common for women to be appointed to the social ministries. As more women
have come to occupy positions of responsibility, they have built up a critical mass which
has helped them to penetrate other areas.
Most of the countries did not have their first woman cabinet member until the 1960s
were over, years after women’s citizenship had been established. This suggests that the
cultural and social process whereby new roles for women and equality with men gained
acceptance was a slow one.
The 1970s were a time of great cultural upheaval which opened the way to changes in
gender relations. Not only were women raising their educational standards en masse and
entering the labour market, albeit at different rates in different countries, but increasing
access to modern contraceptives was enabling them to separate their sexuality from
reproduction and control their fertility more efficiently. This enabled them to become
more independent and exercise power in the private sphere.
Later on, the 1970s were a time when women gained a greater presence on the world
stage with International Women’s Year and the United Nations Decade for Women, the
aim of which was to help bring them into the mainstream of development.
37
Table 3
FIRST WOMAN TO BECOME A MINISTER OR SECRETARY OF STATE,
BY YEAR AND PORTFOLIO
(selected countries)
COUNTRY
YEAR
PORTFOLIO
Cuba
Panama
Chile
Colombia
Haiti
Costa Rica
Guyana
1948
1950
1952
1954
1957
1958
1961
Dominican R.
Grenada
Honduras
Bolivia
Uruguay
Venezuela
Saint Lucia
1963
1967
1967
1968
1968
1968
1974
Ecuador
Nicaragua
Mexico
Brazil
Guatemala
Peru
Argentina
Paraguay
Aruba
Bahamas
1979
1979
1981
1982
1983
1987
1989
1989
1991
1992
Without portfolio
Labour, Social Welfare and Public Health
Justice
Communications
Labour
Education
Ministry of Labour, Welfare,
Social Security and Housing
Department of Education
Education and Social Services
Labour and Social Welfare
Labour and Occupational Development
Education
Development
Community Development, Youth,
Sports and Social Affairs
Social Welfare
Education
Tourism
Education
Not specified
Health and Education
Foreign Relations
Public Health and Social Welfare
Plenipotentiary
Minister of Social Services,
National Insurance and Housing
British Virgin
Islands
1995
Health, Education and Welfare
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Women’s Rights and Status, Haiti, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Women’s Desk, Chief Minister’s Office, British Virgin Islands, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
General Department for the Advancement of Women, Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women
(IACW) by the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Guyana at the Twenty-ninth
Assembly of Delegates of IACW held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American
Commission of Women (IACW) by the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Panama
at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW held in the Dominican Republic, 1998.
38
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
The delay in bringing women into the executive in certain countries was probably due
to political processes there, like the decolonization process that took place in Caribbean
countries. When these were colonies, appointments were made by the prime minister and
governor, who in turn were acting in accordance with events in Britain.
In most cases, the appointment of women – and men – as ministers or secretaries of
State is bound up with their adherence to the political parties in government. Political
parties thus control the access of women to this sphere of State power.
a) Presidency of the Republic
The countries of the region have different systems of government, which means that
the organization, functions and powers of their leaders vary. The situation in the Englishand French-speaking Caribbean is unlike that of the rest of Latin America, as the head of
State is not the same person as the head of Government. Generally speaking, these
countries were European colonies, and most of them keep to the same organization as
they had before. The governor represented the European monarchy and was a
representative of the mother country. No woman ever held this position. In these countries
there is a governor and a prime minister, or a president and a prime minister, the latter in
each case acting as head of the Government. Only Haiti and Guyana have had women
Presidents; in Guyana, the person concerned became President after having been Prime
Minister.
Women came very late to the highest office. Up until 1989 they occupied it only
temporarily, at times of political crisis in their countries. In Argentina, after the death of
President Juan Domingo Perón in 1974, his widow María Estela Martínez de Perón took
over the presidency, having held the position of Vice-President. She held the presidency
between 1974 and 1976, when she was overthrown by a military coup. Lidia Gueiler
was President of Bolivia for eight months (November 1979 to July 1980), having been
appointed by Parliament. She was also overthrown by a military coup. In 1989, Violeta
Chamorro became the first woman to reach the presidency through democratic elections,
in Nicaragua. During the 1990s, the highest office is or has been occupied by women in
four countries: Haiti, Guyana, Ecuador and Panama. In March 1990, Judge Ertha PascalTrouillot took over the presidency of Haiti provisionally, the position having been resigned
to her by General Abraham after a coup d’état which brought down General Prosper
Avril. The new President undertook to create the conditions needed to apply the 1987
39
Constitution and to call presidential elections at the end of that same year. In Guyana,
Janet Jagan took over the presidency in December 1997, having been the Prime Minister
of the country up until that time.
Table 4
WOMEN PRESIDENTS, PRIME MINISTERS
OR EQUIVALENT, YEAR OF OFFICE
COUNTRY
YEAR
Argentina
Bolivia
Nicaragua
Haiti
Ecuador
Guyana
Panama
1974
1979
1989
1990
1996
1998
1999
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of
Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Web page of Zárate’s Political Collections, [http://web.jet.es/ziaorarr/
ecuador.htm]; Web page of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), [http://www.odci.gov/cia/
publications/chiefs].
In Ecuador, Rosalía Arteaga held this office for just three days, with a mandate from
the National Congress, in the midst of the crisis caused by the disqualification and removal
of Abdalá Bucaram. Lastly, in Panama Mireya Moscoso was elected to the presidency in
1999. She was the widow of Arnulfo Arias of the ARENA party, which had a great popular
following. As in the case of Violeta Chamorro, the political capital she enjoyed had been
accumulated by her husband.
Only in the last few years have some political parties put women forward for the
presidency, something they have traditionally been reluctant to do, regardless of their
political leaning. The exception is Mexico, where Rosario Ibarra de Piedra stood for the
highest office as long ago as 1976.
40
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
b) Vice-presidency
The situation as regards the position of vice-president of the republic is somewhat
different. This is an office that exists only in some countries within the region. There
have recently been female Vice-Presidents in four countries. In earlier decades there
were other instances, such as that of María Estela Martínez de Perón, who won the vicepresidency by popular election in 1974.
The electoral processes of recent years reveal that political parties are increasingly
disposed to offer a male candidate for the presidency and a female one for the vicepresidency. The importance of the vice-presidency in republican systems derives from
the fact that vice-presidents stand in for the president when the latter is out of the country.
They also carry out duties relating to the internal government of the country. Their role
and origin are eminently political.
Table 5
WOMEN VICE-PRESIDENTS OR EQUIVALENT,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
COUNTRY
YEAR
WOMEN
Costa Rica
Ecuador
Honduras
Nicaragua
1998
1997
1997
1995
2
1
1
1
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Women and Society Foundation, Ecuador, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Nicaraguan National Women’s
Institute, Nicaragua, 1998; Web page of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), [http://www.odci.gov/
cia/publications/chiefs].
c) Ministries or departments of State
In ministries and departments of State the situation is quite varied at present. To take
the countries for which full information was available, around 1999 women held between
7% and 20% of positions. Aruba and Ecuador stand out with female representation of
around 30%, which is far above the average and approaches the goal of 50%. In Guyana
the share of women is 5.2%, while in Brazil they hold less than 5% of portfolios (in the
federal Government).
41
Table 6
WOMEN MINISTERS, SECRETARIES OF STATE OR EQUIVALENT, LATEST YEAR
AVAILABLE
(ranked by percentages)
COUNTRY
YEAR
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
Aruba
Ecuador
Bahamas
Panama
Dominica
Honduras
Colombia
Haiti
Jamaica
Chile
Costa Rica
Grenada
Trinidad and Tobago
Peru
Barbados
Mexico a
Saint Lucia
Dominican Republic
Argentina a
Paraguay
Guatemala
Uruguay
Bolivia
Cuba
Venezuela a
Guyana
Brazil a
Antigua and Barbuda
El Salvador
Nicaragua
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Surinam
Netherlands Antilles
Belize
British Virgin Islands
1999
1999
1999
1999
1997
1999
1999
1999
1999
1998
1999
1999
1997
1999
1999
1998
1997
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1997
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1999
1996
1997
1996
1997
7
14
13
13
9
17
18
18
18
19
14
14
22
15
17
17
17
17
9
10
12
12
14
28
14
19
24
15
14
13
12
11
16
...
...
...
2
4
3
3
2
3
3
3
3
3
2
2
3
2
3
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
1
1
28.6
28.5
23.1
23.1
22.2
17.6
16.6
16.6
16.6
15.8
14.2
14.2
13.6
13.3
17.6
11.8
11.8
11.7
11.1
11.1
8.3
8.3
7.1
7.1
7.1
5.2
4.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
...
...
...
42
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
... No information available.
a National or Federal Executive.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Netherlands Antilles, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign
Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s
Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM),
Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dominica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women and Society Foundation,
Ecuador, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Women’s Desk - Chief Minister’s Office, British Virgin Islands, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department
of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department
of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies
and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia,
1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998;
Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States
(OAS) presented by Grenada at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the
Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) of the
Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Honduras at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of
Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission
of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Jamaica at the Twentyninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the InterAmerican Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented
by Saint Lucia at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic,
1998; Guía Silber, Santiago, Chile, 1998; Family Training and Research Centre, Panama (1999);
Report to the Summit of the Americas, “El fortalecimiento del papel de la mujer en la sociedad”,
Nicaragua, undated; Web page of the Political Reference Almanac, [http://www.polisci.com/world/
nation/BR.htm]; Web page of the Cabinet of the Government of the Republic of El Salvador, [http://
tamagas.com/consalvamia/gabinete.htm]; Web page of the Government of the Dominican Republic,
[http://www.presidencia.gov.do/secretarias.htm]; Web page of the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis,
[http://www.stkittsnevis.net/directory.htm]; Web page of the Political Reference Almanac, [http://
www.polisci.com/world/nation/TD.htm]; Web page of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), [http:/
/www.odci.gov.cia/publications/chiefs].
In absolute terms, the countries with the greatest number of women ministers are Ecuador and the Netherlands Antilles, with four women in the cabinet, while there are no women
in this position in Antigua and Barbuda, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis,
Surinam or Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Nonetheless, these figures are unstable to
differing degrees, as the political crises through which different countries in the region
pass produce more or less frequent changes in cabinets.
The ministerial portfolios now held by women – excluding mechanisms for the
advancement of women – are mainly in the social sphere (21), but a fair number of women
do hold traditionally male portfolios: the economy (eight), the environment (four), the
civil service (one) and foreign relations (one). The range of portfolios held by women has
widened, but there are still some, such as defence and the interior, that no woman has ever
held. In Jamaica there is a woman minister without a specific portfolio.
43
The number of women ministers of State fluctuates over time. No particular tendency
can be discerned in the countries. To a great degree, this is due to the fact that these
positions are allocated by the President, and consequently depend on the political parties
that support him, although in some countries the appointments are made by the legislature.
No strong relationship with the political orientation of the parties in power can be
identified. Thus, for example, countries without female representation at this level are no
more or less likely to have conservative Governments than social democratic ones.
Table 7
MINISTERIAL PORTFOLIOS AND DEPARTMENTS OF STATE HELD BY WOMEN,
AROUND 1997
(selected countries)
PORTFOLIO
COUNTRY
Argentina
Aruba
Bahamas
Barbados
Brazil
Colombia
Chile
Dominica
Ecuador
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Panama
Peru
Trinidad and
Tobago
Uruguay
Total
Economy a Foreign
Relations
Civil Labour b
Service
Education c
Health d
Women e Justice f
Environment g
without
portfolio
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
EE
EE
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
E
EE
7
1
1
E
7
8
4
5
3
4
1
44
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
a Includes foreign trade, finance, credit, industry, trade integration and tourism.
b Includes labour and related areas (education, training, social security, social affairs, social welfare
and sport).
c Includes education and related areas (culture, community development, sports and youth affairs).
d Includes health and related areas (environment and social services).
e Includes women’s affairs and related areas (human and community development, housing and social
security).
f Includes justice and related areas (public safety and government).
g Includes natural resources, national goods, housing and territory.
E Ministerial portfolios held by women.
Sources: Web page of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), [http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/
chiefs]; [http://www.bahamas.net.bs/government/gov4.html].
d) Deputy ministers or under-secretaries of State
The task of under-secretaries or deputy ministers is generally to support those who
hold the portfolios concerned, and their role is mainly administrative by contrast with the
political role of ministers and secretaries of State. They too are political appointees of the
head of State and they are of more or less importance depending on how each State is
organized. There are countries where they are in charge of a whole sector (education or
health, for example) and occupy a high place in the hierarchy. This is the case in countries
that have mega-ministries containing a number of departments and sub-departments that
are subordinate to them, examples being Bolivia and Mexico.
Women tend to be slightly better represented in these positions than at ministerial
level. The situation varies greatly between countries, however. Whereas in Haiti the
proportion of women is as high as 60%, in excess of the target, in Ecuador, a country with
above-average representation at ministerial level, it is only 2.9%. In absolute terms, the
countries that stand out are Bahamas, Bolivia, Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico.
e) Ambassadors
In general, Governments have been slow to appoint women to official diplomatic posts.
Furthermore, most countries do not record this information and little importance has been
attached to this form of participation. In some cases women enter via a diplomatic career,
although their numbers are very small, while in others appointment is political and they
are chosen directly by Governments.
45
Table 8
WOMEN DEPUTY MINISTERS, UNDER-SECRETARIES OR
EQUIVALENT, AROUND 1997
(selected countries, ranked by percentages)
COUNTRY
YEAR
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
Haiti
Costa Rica
Grenada
Argentina a
Guatemala
El Salvador
Dominican Republic
Chile
Peru
Bolivia
Cuba
Jamaica
Panama
Uruguay
Paraguay
Mexico a
Venezuela a
Colombia
Ecuador
Bahamas
Barbados
British Virgin Islands
Dominica
Honduras
Cayman Islands
Nicaragua
Saint Kitts and Nevis
1997
1998
1996
1996
1996
1997
1997
1998
1998
1997
1998
1998
1997
1997
1993
1998
1998
1997
1998
1996
1996
1997
1997
1997
1997
1998
1997
5
18
...
9
...
15
...
21
22
47
132
11
12
13
28
134
21
23
34
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
3
7
...
2
...
3
...
3
3
6
13
1
1
1
2
9
1
1
1
9
1
1
1
2
2
3
4
60.0
38.9
23.1
22.2
22.2
20.0
18.0
14.3
13.6
12.8
9.8
9.1
8.3
7.7
7.1
6.7
4.8
4.3
2.9
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
... No information available.
a National or Federal Executive.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dominica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women and Society Foundation, Ecuador, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Women’s Affairs and Social Security, Ministry of Housing, Grenada, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry
of Women’s Rights and Status, Haiti, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Desk - Chief Minister’s Office,
British Virgin Islands, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico,
46
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Youth, Women, Childhood and the Family, Panama, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Centre for Social Studies and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Report to ECLAC, General Department
for the Advancement of Women, Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s
Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of
Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Grenada at the Twentyninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Guía Silber, Chile,
1998; Report to the Summit of the Americas, “El fortalecimiento del papel de la mujer en la sociedad”,
Nicaragua, undated; Web page of the United Nations, [http://gopher.un.org:70/00/sec/dpcsd/daw/
womgovt/factsheet /PERCENT.EN].
Among the few countries for which full and up-to-date figures were obtained, the
highest percentages are found in Venezuela with 23.7%, Bolivia with 18.2% and Peru
with 15.3%. Argentina is in a special situation, as current legislation allows ambassadors
to be appointed for tasks other than representation in other countries or international bodies.
Women hold 52.3% of ambassadorships. Almost all the countries for which information
was obtained are a long way from the target of 50% of posts. The importance of having
women in these positions lies in the fact that they are representing their Government beyond
its borders. In a context of globalization, this means women participating in regional,
hemispheric and global decision-making.
It should also be noted that in some countries, ministries of foreign relations have put
forward women to represent the country in multilateral organizations with respect to both
general and women’s affairs, and have set up special units internally to deal with these
issues in an international context. This is the case in Argentina, Mexico, the Netherlands
Antilles and Peru, among others (ECLAC, 1998a).
f) Governors
In countries whose political and administrative organization is federal, male and female
governors are chosen by popular election. Governorships are run by state legislation, they
have their own funds and they are responsible for the political management of the state or
province. They also devise and implement social policies and programmes.
Things are not done in the same way in unitary countries like Chile, where the position
of provincial governor does indeed exist, but where governors have fewer powers and are
appointed by the President of the republic.
47
Table 9
WOMEN AMBASSADORS IN OFFICIAL DIPLOMATIC POSITIONS, AROUND 1997
(selected countries)
COUNTRY
YEAR
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
Argentina a
Venezuela
Bolivia
Peru
Mexico
Chile
Paraguay
El Salvador
Uruguay
1998
1998
1993
1998
1997
1998
1998
1998
1998
197
139
11
59
134
72
125
28
20
103
33
2
9
12
4
1
0
0
52.3
23.7
18.2
15.3
8.9
5.5
0.8
0.0
0.0
a Includes women ambassadors covered by article 5 who are not career diplomats.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Guía Silber, Chile,
1998; Ministry for Women’s Affairs and Human Development (PROMUDEH), Informe sobre los avances en la implementación de la Plataforma de Acción de la IV Conferencia de la Mujer, Lima, 1998;
National Follow-up Commission for the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer, 1999; Web page of the Cabinet of the Republic of El Salvador,
[http://tamagas.com/consalvamia/gabinete.htm].
Table 10
WOMEN GOVERNORS IN FEDERAL COUNTRIES, 1990S
COUNTRY
Brazil
Mexico a
Argentina
Venezuela
YEAR
1998
1999
1996
1998
GOVERNORS
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
24
31
24
23
1
0
0
0
4.2
0.0
0.0
0.0
48
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
a Includes 30 states and the Federal District.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American
States (OAS) presented by Venezuela at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the
Dominican Republic, 1998; Government on the Web, Brazil, [http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/br.html];
Governments on the Web, Mexico, [http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/mx.html].
In federal countries female representation in governorships is virtually nil. Only Brazil
had a female governor in 1998, while Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina had none. At
present, Graciela Fernández Meijide is standing for the governorship of Buenos Aires, and
has a chance of winning.
g) Women mayors
Major municipal reforms have been undertaken in most of the countries in the region,
including the democratization of local government. As a result of this, mayors, prefects,
intendants or municipal presidents are now elected by popular vote and have more resources
and scope for running their territory. Municipalities are the closest contact that citizens
have with the State. They have been described as a particularly favourable environment
for women to act in, as they are closely linked to the day-to-day life of the community.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are large variations in the size of
municipalities, in terms both of territory and population, and in the importance of the
position. At one extreme there is the example of Luiza Erundina, who was the prefect of
Sao Paulo, a city of nine million inhabitants. Her situation is not comparable with that of
women mayors in municipalities whose population is no more than a few hundred or a few
thousand people.
There is now a wide range of situations in the countries of the region. Proportionately,
women are more likely to be mayors (or the equivalent) than to hold executive office
nationally, but in most cases the target of 50% is a long way from being met. Bahamas,
Dominica, Guyana, Nicaragua and Trinidad and Tobago, countries in the English-speaking
Caribbean and Central America, have the highest percentages, ranging from 20% to 37%,
while in 11 countries, most of them in Latin America, fewer than 5% of mayors are women.
In Ecuador, Saint Lucia and Uruguay no woman holds this position. In Honduras, Jamaica
and Panama the figure is somewhat over 10%.
49
The decentralization process has brought with it an increase in resources at this level,
as well as in public visibility and political interest. As a result, these positions have become
attractive to political parties, and to men, and are increasingly sought after by them. This
is raising the level of political competition and displacing women.
Although many women are engaged in local work, the number of women mayors is
insufficient. In only two countries do they hold over 25% of these positions, which is half
of the goal. In view of this situation, in recent years a number of countries have passed
affirmative action laws – quota laws – to assist women at the municipal level, and these
are beginning to produce results in Brazil and Peru.
In a number of countries women mayors have set up coordination networks and agencies, held international forums of a regional nature and established mechanisms and
organizational structures to make their work more effective, an example being the initiatives
of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA). The meetings held have been for
the purpose of discussing and combining conceptual and practical considerations in order
to bring women and the gender aspect into local administration and to offset the difficulties
and inexperience that affect many women when they take up their municipal duties.
h) National mechanisms for the advancement of women
Perhaps the most significant breakthrough for women in the executive has been
the creation of government bodies specializing in the formulation of public policies
for the advancement of women, something that indicates political will on the part of
Governments. In order to give effect to the requirements included in the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the countries of
Latin America and the Caribbean have brought into operation governmental
mechanisms for the advancement of women. These are the State bodies responsible
for promoting gender equity in the countries. At present, the exception is Montserrat,
which for these purposes only has a focal point that comes under the Ministry of
Education, Health and Community Services. The country is considering setting up its
first gender desk in the near future.
The powers, objectives, management procedures, rules, institutional legitimacy, position
in the structure of government, funding, human resources and social positioning of these
mechanisms varies from one country to another. Again, in a large part of the region they
50
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
have undergone numerous alterations and restructuring exercises over time, particularly
during changes of government and the economic and political crises that many of them
have experienced.
Table 11
WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: WOMEN MAYORS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
(selected countries, ranked by percentages)
COUNTRY
YEAR
TOTAL
MUNI
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
Guyana
Dominica
Bahamas
Nicaragua
Trinidad and Tobago
Panama
Honduras
Jamaica
Chile
El Salvador
Venezuela
Cuba
Costa Rica b
1998
1998
1997
1996
1995
1999
1994
1998
1997
1998
1998
1998
1998
27
30
764
145
108
73
291
16
341
...
330
169
81
8
8
175
30
22
10
37
2
32
...
22
9
4
29.6
26.7
22.9
20.7
20.4
13.7
12.7
12.5
9.4
8.4
6.7
5.3
4.9
Colombia
Bolivia
Haiti
Argentina
Peru
Brazil
Mexico
Paraguay
Dominic. Rep.
Guatemala
Ecuador
Uruguay a
Saint Lucia
1998
1997
1995
1992
1998
1997
1998
1996
1998
1994
1997
1998
1997
...
311
132
1,100
194
5,378
2,418
220
115
330
27
19
1
...
12
5
40
7
190
79
6
2
4
0
0
0
4.7
3.9
3.8
3.6
3.6
3.5
3.3
2.7
1.7
1.2
0.0
0.0
0.0
TITLE
Mayor
Local officials
...
Mayor
Town Councillor
Mayor
Mayor
Mayor
Mayor
Mayor
Mayor
Pdte As. Municip
Municipal
Executive
Mayor
Mayor
Mayor
Intendant
Provincial Mayor
Prefect
Municipal President
Intendant
Syndic
Mayor
Mayor
Intendant
Municipal President
... No information available.
a Includes 18 departments and Montevideo.
b Proprietary syndics.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile, Institute
for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences
(FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
51
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development
Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Electoral Service, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of the Interior, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Judiciary, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Service (SERNAM), Chile, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dominica, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Women and Society Foundation, Ecuador, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Women’s Rights and Status, Haiti, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of
Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Nicaraguan National
Women’s Institute, Nicaragua, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic,
Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, General Department for the Advancement of Women, Dominican Republic, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s
Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women
(IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Colombia at the Twenty-ninth Assembly
of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission
of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by El Salvador at the Twentyninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American
Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Trinidad and
Tobago at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998;
National Follow-up Commission for the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer, 1999; Family Training and Research Centre (CEFA), Agenda política de
las Mujeres, Panama, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and National Women’s Department,
Ministry of Youth, Women, Childhood and the Family, 1999.
Most of the specialist bodies in operation today were set up between 1980 and 1990.
Some were created earlier, but had their internal organization, objectives, powers and
resources restructured between the 1980s and 1990s. Generally speaking, the existence of
these national mechanisms is linked with the need of States to reform and modernize the
government machinery in order to develop policies that meet current demands with greater
efficiency and effectiveness. Behind this lies an idea of the State as an agent of concertation
for the production and perpetuation of an equitable gender order (ECLAC, 1998b). The
functions of these mechanisms include coordinating, monitoring, advising on and
implementing public policies aimed at women.
One important aspect worth analysing is the position of these bodies in the structure of
government; specifically, the authority they come under. In six countries they have the
rank of ministry: Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru and Paraguay. In
Chile, notwithstanding that it has this rank and is financially and administratively
independent, the mechanism comes under the Ministry of Planning and Cooperation.
In most of the countries these mechanisms are administrations or departments, which
means they have a lower status, less funding and less scope for coordinating policies
52
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
among government agencies further up the hierarchy. Although some come under the
presidency, most report to ministries and sub-ministries.
The ministries that the mechanisms come under are generally concerned with social
welfare, labour, “vulnerable groups” or education. In other words they are social ministries,
which implies a particular approach to the role of these bodies and to the status and situation
of women. This hierarchy illustrates the level of authority and autonomy that these
mechanisms have within government and the amount of resources available to them. Thus,
the budgets of departments, administrations and offices have to be renewed annually and
are smaller or less stable than those of councils, institutes or ministries.
Again, the management models of national mechanisms vary. Anguilla, Argentina,
Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela have set up national commissions and councils
which come under the presidency, except in Brazil where the mechanism comes under the
Ministry of Justice. This model is found in federal countries, as it provides more flexible
management and permits of closer links with organizations in civil society and other actors.
In some Central American countries women’s institutes have been set up (Costa Rica, El
Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua). They are not generally independent, the exception
being that of Costa Rica.
In Cuba and Puerto Rico the situation is different. While the latter has a governmental
Women’s Affairs Commission, in Cuba the Federation of Cuban Women performs the role
of a governmental mechanism for the advancement of women. It is a non-governmental
organization that has a wide membership among Cuban women and is recognized by the
constitution.
Another important characteristic is the number of staff, which is indicative of the real
management capabilities of each mechanism. Thus, for example, whereas the mechanisms
of Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Peru have
more than 50 staff, those of Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Surinam and Uruguay have less than five
permanent staff and in Montserrat there is just one person to operate the mechanism.
The legal provisions on which these mechanisms are based are indicative of different
degrees of legitimacy and acceptance. Thus, a presidential order is different from a law
approved by parliament or a constitutional provision. In many of the countries the legal
53
mandate for these mechanisms is fragile, as they owe their existence to a decision by the
executive and are not incorporated into national legislation. This has serious consequences
for the relationship between the mechanisms and the demands and needs of women and
women’s organizations. All these different factors give an idea of the diversity of situations
and the degree of political will that Governments bring to the task of incorporating the
international gender equity agenda into their institutional structures.
Table 12
NATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN
COUNTRY
SET UP
NAME
Anguilla
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
...
1994
1992
Aruba
Bahamas
Barbados
1996
1995
1976
National Women’s Council
Directorate of Women’s Affairs
National Women’s Council
(CONAMU)
Bureau of Women’s Affairs
Bureau of Women’s Affairs
Bureau of Women’s Affairs
Belize
1993
Department of Women’s Affairs
Bolivia
1993
British Virgin Islands
Brazil
1991
1995
Cayman Islands
1995
General Department for Gender
Affairs
Women’s Desk
National Council for the Rights
of Women
Office for Women’s Affairs
Chile
1991
Colombia
1999
Costa Rica
Cuba a
Dominica
1998
1960
1980
Dominican Republic
1982
Ecuador
1997
National Women’s Service
(SERNAM)
Presidential Commission for
Women’s Equity
National Institute for Women
Federation of Cuban Women
Women’s Bureau
General Department for the
Advancement of Women
National Council for Women
(CONAMU)
AUTHORITY IT COMES UNDER
...
Prime Minister’s Ministry
Presidency of the Republic
Department of Social Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Labour, Community
Development and Sports
Ministry of Human Resources, Youth,
Women and Culture
Office of the Under-Secretary of Gender
Issues, Generational Affairs and Family
Chief Minister’s Office
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Community Development,
Sports, Women’s Affairs, Youth
and Culture
Presidency of the Republic through the
Ministry of Planning
Presidency of the Republic
Government council
Independent
Ministry of Community Development
and Women’s Affairs
Department of the Presidency
Presidency of the Republic
54
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Continuation Table 12
El Salvador
1996
Grenada
1997
Guatemala
1981
Guyana
1991
Haiti
1994
Honduras
Jamaica
1999
1976
Mexico
1998
Montserrat
1993
Netherlands Antilles
1995
Nicaragua
1987
Panama
1998
Salvadoran Institute for the
Development of Women
Division of Women’s Affairs
National Office of Women’s Affairs
(ONAM)
Women’s Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Women’s Rights and
Status
National Women’s Institute
Bureau of Women’s Affairs
National Commission on Women
(CONMUJER)
Focal Point for Women’s Affairs
Department of Welfare, Family and
Humanitarian Affairs
Nicaraguan Women’s Institute
(INIM)
Ministry of the Presidency
Ministry of Housing, Social Security and
Women’s Affairs
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
Ministry of Labour, Human Services,
Social Security and Housing
Presidency of the Republic
Presidency of the Republic
Ministry of Labour, Social Security
and Sport
Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Education, Health
and Community Services
Ministry of Welfare, Family
and Humanitarian Affairs
Ministry of the Family
National Directorate of Women’s
Ministry of Youth, Women,
Childhood and the Family
Presidency of the Republic
Presidency of the Republic
Paraguay
Peru
1992
1996
Puerto Rico
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
1994
1995
1997
Affairs
Department of Women’s Affairs
Ministry for Women’s Affairs and
Human Development
Women’s Affairs Commission
Director of Women’s Affairs
Division of Women’s Affairs
Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines
1985
Women’s Affairs Department
Surinam
Trinidad and Tobago
Uruguay
...
1993
1992
Venezuela
1992
National Gender Bureau
Division of Gender Affairs
National Institute for Family
and Women’s Affairs
National Women’s Council
(CONAMU)
Governor’s office
Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs
Ministry of Health, Human Services,
Family Affairs and Women
Ministry of Education, Youth
and Women’s Affairs and Culture.
Ministry of Home Affairs
Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs
Ministry of Education and Culture
Presidency of the Republic
... No information available.
a The Cuban State has granted the status of a national mechanism for the advancement of women to the Federation
of Cuban Women, a non-governmental organization recognized by the Economic and Social Council as a special
category organization.
Source: ECLAC “Directory of national organizations dealing with programmes and policies on women in Latin
America and the Caribbean”, (LC/L.1065/Rev. 1), Santiago, Chile, 1998, and updated version on ECLAC Web
page, [http://www.eclac.cl/espanol/investigacion/series/mujer/directorio/directorioorg.htm].
55
i) Governmental instruments for equal opportunities between women and men
In the light of the experience of the Nordic countries with equal rights laws and of Spain
with its Equal Opportunities Plan, some countries in the region have formulated equal
opportunities plans of their own. These are national instruments for attaining gender equity and
the advancement of women, being a synthesis of government policy in this area. Consequently,
as well as incorporating general elements and regulations, they provide for specific measures
and programmes to be implemented in the country. Adoption of such plans is an indicator of
political will. Application is generally coordinated by the governmental women’s organization,
but in most cases the different bodies are supposed to take their own measures, so that what is
envisaged is coordinated action of an interministerial or intersectoral nature. With the exception
of Chile and Argentina, all the countries that have instruments of this type have designed and
implemented them since the last World Conference on Women. They owe their existence to
one of the agreements in the Platform that resulted from that event.
Almost all of them are called national plans of action or equal opportunities plans.
Once objectives and aims have been set to give them shape, measures can be taken to
achieve equality and instruments for monitoring progress can be developed. They are
almost invariably broad five-year plans designed to allow for ongoing evaluation of changes
in the position of women and in the gender equity situation as they proceed. Whether they
are implemented successfully or not depends on the strength and legitimacy of the
governmental mechanisms in charge of them, in terms both of presidential support and
their ability to negotiate and establish alliances with other sectors of government and with
non-State actors, both nationally and internationally.
Although the policies developed up until now have identified groups of women as
beneficiaries of or participants in social plans and programmes, they create a new logic or
perspective within the State. Furthermore, they make it possible to quantify the resources
committed to these measures, as they are subject to budgetary debate.
These plans of action deal with different situations relating to women and the attainment
of equality. Given the levels of poverty found in the countries of Latin America and the
Caribbean, however, rather than being general policies aimed at all women they concentrate
on the groups that are most vulnerable, whether because they are in a situation of poverty
or for cultural or psychosocial reasons. Thus, in Chile, Costa Rica and other countries,
they are directly linked with the programme or programmes to combat poverty and with
the procedures used to target social spending.
56
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Although this criterion is reasonable, there is a need to carry out assessments to determine whether the goal of overcoming gender obstacles is not being lost in the struggle to
defeat poverty.
Another important factor that needs to be taken into account is the multiplicity of
actors involved in them. In the English-speaking Caribbean, design and implementation
of these plans is closely tied to the activities of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM),
which means that they constitute strategies of a subregional type. In many Latin American
countries, design and implementation does not involve the active participation of nongovernmental organizations or organizations in civil society, even though these are viewed
as technical consultative bodies by the United Nations system.
Nonetheless, in Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Mexico the presence of women’s
movements has resulted in social participation in the formulation of proposals, in the design
of the plan concerned or in its execution or evaluation, or a combination of these.
Looking beyond the political will of which these plans are a manifestation, result
indicators will have to be used in future to assess their impact.
j) Other national mechanisms
Besides the Government agencies directly responsible for public policies aimed at
women, in a number of countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Cuba, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Granada, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru,
Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago)
interministerial committees or ministerial commissions, or both types of mechanisms, have
been created within central Government to deal with specific problems on a sectoral or
intersectoral basis. In the case of intersectoral agencies, these are generally coordinated by
a national mechanism authority or by the office of the presidency.
Some countries, such as Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico, have also set up special
national commissions to follow up and monitor sectoral agreements relating to education,
health, labour, housing, agriculture and protection for the rights of girls and women
(UNICEF/FLACSO, 1998a). In federal countries there are independent state mechanisms
for the advancement of women as well, and these are also very important. This is the case
with Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. In Guyana there are also a number of
57
regional mechanisms. Besides this, there are municipal offices with responsibility for
women’s affairs in a number of Latin American countries, examples being Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The existence of these
other agencies shows that there is increased awareness of the problems of women and
gender equity, and more political will to deal with them comprehensively. The effects of
their work will also need to be evaluated in future.
Table 13
INSTRUMENTS FOR ACHIEVING EQUALITY BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN
COUNTRY
NAME
DATE
ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE
Antigua and Barbuda
Plan of Action for gender
and development
Federal Plan for Women
National Plan of Action
National Plan of Action
National Plan of Action
(in preparation)
Supreme Decree for Equality of
Opportunities between Bolivian
Men and Women
Strategies for equality
National Plan of Action
Equal Opportunity Plan for Women
1998-2000
Division of Gender Affairs
1999
...
...
...
National Women’s Council
...
...
...
1997
Ministry of Sustainable
Development and Planning
1995-1999
...
1994-1999
...
...
National Women’s Service
(SERNAM)
National Directorate for
Women’s Equity
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Chile
Colombia
Policy of Participation and
Equity for Women
1994
Costa Rica
Third Plan for Equal Opportunities
between Women and Men (PIOMH)
1997-2001
Addendum to PIOMH for the
Agricultural and Environmental
Sectors
National Plan of Action to Follow
up the Fourth World Conference of
the United Nations
National Plan to improve the
situation of women (under review)
National Platform for the
advancement of Dominican women
1997
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Rep.
1997
National Centre for the
Development of Women
and the Family
National Centre for the
Development of Women
and the Family
...
1989
...
1995-2001
General Department for the
Advancement of Women
58
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Continuation Table 13
Ecuador
El Salvador
Policies for women
National Policy for Women
1996-2005
1997-1999
Grenada
National Plan of Action
(in preparation)
National policy for the development
and advancement of women
National Policy for Women
National Plan of Action
Government Plan
National Plan of Action for women
National Women’s Programme
...
National Council for Women
Salvadoran Institute for the
Development of Women
...
1997
...
1996
1996
...
1997-2000
1995-2000
National Commission for Women
...
...
Bureau of Women’s Affairs
General Liaison Office for the
National Women’s Programme
Nicaraguan Women’s Institute
National Women’s Department
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Uruguay
Venezuela
National Women’s Plan
National Women and Development
Plan
National Equal Opportunities
Plan for Women
National Women and Development
Plan
National Plan of Action on Women
National Plan of Action
1994-1996
1994-2000
National Plan of Action
National Plan of Action
Plan of Action of the National
Institute for Family and Women’s
Affairs
National Women’s Plan
1997-2001
1998-2000
Department of Women’s Affairs.
Presidency of the Republic
PROMUDEH
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
National Institute for Family and
Women’s Affairs
1998-2003
National Women’s Council
... No information available.
Sources: ECLAC, “Directory of national organizations dealing with programmes and policies on women in
Latin America and the Caribbean”, (LC/L.1065/Rev.1), Santiago, Chile, 1998 and updated version on ECLAC
Web page, [http://www.eclac.cl./espyearl/investigación/series/mujer/directorio/directorwor.htm]; Report to
ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations,
International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW)
of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Antigua and Barbuda at the Twenty-ninth
Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Report to the Inter-American
Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Guyana at the
Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; Women’s Environment
and Development Organization (WEDO), Mapping Progress: Assessing Implementation of the Beijing
Platform, New York, 1998.
59
k) Mechanisms for following up the Beijing agreements
The chief purpose of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) was to
produce a Platform for Action aimed at removing the obstacles that prevent women from
participating actively in all areas of the life of society, to promote equality between women
and men in decision-making processes, and to protect their human rights. This Platform
for Action is not legally binding, but presupposes political will on the part of Governments.
In other words, these are not obliged to honour it, so implementation and oversight depend
on the commitment they bring to it and on the ability of civil society, and women’s
organizations in particular, to exert pressure.
At the national level, responsibility for application and follow-up was vested by
Governments in their national mechanisms for the advancement of women. Some countries,
however, created specific commissions, working plans and institutional instruments to
implement and follow up the agreements included in the Platform. These come under the
national body or are interministerial (Argentina, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica,
Mexico, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela). The procedures,
objectives and resources of these special mechanisms vary from one country to another.
Generally speaking, though, their aim is rather to get action under way than to carry out
systematic and regular follow-up and oversight activities.
Bolivia and Paraguay are in a special position, as their agencies have a bipartite and
tripartite character, i.e. they include, alongside the Government, the relevant nongovernmental organizations and international bodies. In other countries too links have
been forged between the State and civil society, but not on such a permanent basis (Barbados, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guyana and Paraguay). The intensity of these relationships
varies considerably. Thus, while there are monthly meetings in some countries, in others
there has only been one meeting every year or two years, and whereas in some cases these
meetings are purely consultative, in others they can have a real influence (UNICEF/
FLACSO, 1998b). Although the creation of these agencies is indicative of political will,
we need to know who they report to and what impact they have on progress.
The fact is that it is the non-governmental world of the women’s movement that is taking
the lead in following up and monitoring the commitments entered into. In some countries the
women’s movement has set up independent agencies to monitor compliance with the Beijing
agreements. At least, this is the case in Chile and Uruguay. In Chile there is no institutionalized
agency to carry out this task within the Government, apart from the activities conducted by
60
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
the National Women’s Service with the Equal Opportunity Plan for Women, which has some
overlap with the Platform for Action. On the other hand there is the Chile Initiative Group,
which is composed of 11 non-governmental organizations and women’s study centres, and
whose main purpose is to carry out citizen monitoring of the Beijing agreements.
Table 14
SPECIAL STATE MECHANISMS FOR FOLLOWING UP BEIJING
COUNTRY
YEAR ESTABLISHED
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
...
1995
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
...
...
1997
...
Br. Virgin Islands
Costa Rica
Dominica
Dominican Rep.
...
...
...
1995
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
Mexico
…
..
...
1996
Paraguay
...
Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines
Surinam
Trinidad and Tobago
...
...
1997
Uruguay
1997
Venezuela
1996
FOLLOW-UP MECHANISM
National Commission for Women
Ad hoc commission to follow up the Plan
of Action resulting from the Fourth World
Conference on Women
National Commission for Women
National Commission for Women
National Post-Beijing Liaison Committee
National Commission for
implementation of the Beijing Platform a
National Commission for Women
Commission of the Social Council
National Commission for Women
National Follow-up Commission for the
Plan of Action of the Fourth World
Conference on Women
National Commission for Women
National Beijing Committee
Intersectoral Group
General Liaison Office for the National
Women’s Programme/Consultative
Council/Social Comptroller’s Office
Tripartite commission for monitoring,
evaluating and following up the
Beijing Platform
(State-civil society, United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP))
Commission on the status of women
Government advisory board
Report of Trinidad and Tobago regarding
application of the Beijing Platform for Action
Commission responsible for making
proposals and following up the
agreements entered into in Beijing
National Post-Beijing Commission
61
... No information available.
a Comes under the legislature.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of
Women’s Affairs, Barbados, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre
(CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations, International Women’s
Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, General Department for the Advancement of Women, Dominican
Republic, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Institute for Family and Women’s Affairs, Uruguay, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela; Women’s
Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Mapping Progress: Assessing Implementation
of the Beijing Platform, New York, 1998; Web page of the United Nations, [http://www.un.org/
womenwatch/followup/national/latinsum.htm].
2. THE LEGISLATURE
The participation of women in the legislature is of long standing. As soon as women
obtained the right to vote, they became eligible to stand for election, and in some countries
the first women parliamentarians were elected soon after this right had been won. This is
true of Brazil, which had the first woman parliamentarian in Latin America, Carlota Queiroz,
a federal deputy elected in 1933. It fell to her to participate in drawing up the Constitution
which enshrined the right of women to vote (1934). Nonetheless, the presence of women
has generally been slow to increase, and it is only recently that they have succeeded in
obtaining more than 20% of seats. Some of the reasons given for this are: that women are
too fearful to stand, that they tend to be rejected by the party committees which select
candidates, and that they find it very hard to obtain funding for their election campaigns.
Argentina is the exception, since under the government of Perón and the leadership of Eva
Perón women obtained 21.7% in the Chamber of Deputies (36 deputies) and 17.6% in the
Senate (6 senators). The entry of women into parliament has had very significant effects.
Their presence has meant that laws to deal with their needs can be discussed and passed.
Laws of great importance, such as those dealing with protection for women in the workplace,
child care, reforms to the civil code, divorce, the creation of a mechanism for the
advancement of women, domestic violence and quotas, among others, have been proposed
by women in many countries.
A process that is now under way holds out the prospect of greater participation. This is
the creation of affirmative action mechanisms – quota laws – aimed at increasing female
representation, and these are proving effective. In Argentina, for example, the number of
women in the Chamber of Deputies increased from 5.8% (15 deputies) in 1991 to 27.6%
(71 deputies) in the 1997 elections, after the passing of the quota law (1991).
62
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Table 15
WOMEN IN THE LEGISLATURE: COUNTRIES WITH BICAMERAL PARLIAMENTS,
LATEST ELECTIONS
(selected countries)
SENATE
COUNTRY
Antigua and
Barbuda a
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados a
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Dominican
Republic
Grenada
Haiti
Jamaica
Mexico
Paraguay
Puerto Rico
Saint Lucia
Trinidad and
Tobago
Uruguay
Venezuela
YEAR OF
ELECTION
BOTH
SEXES
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
YEAR OF
ELECTION
BOTH
SEXES
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
1994
1995
1997
1994
1993
1997
1998
1997
1998
17
72
16
21
8
27
81
48
102
3
4
5
6
3
1
6
2
13
17.6
5.6
31.3
28.6
37.5
3.7
7.4
4.1
12.7
1994
1997
1997
1994
1998
1997
1998
1997
1998
19
257
40
28
29
130
513
120
161
1
71
6
3
2
15
29
13
19
5.3
27.6
15.0
10.7
6.9
11.5
5.7
10.8
11.8
1998
1999
1997
1997
1997
1998
1997
1997
30
15
27
21
128
45
27
11
2
3
0
5
19
8
5
2
6.7
20.0
0.0
23.8
14.8
17.8
18.5
18.2
1998
1999
1995
1997
1997
1998
...
1997
149
13
83
60
500
80
51
17
24
1
3
8
87
2
...
2
16.1
7.7
3.6
13.3
17.4
2.5
...
11.8
1995
1994
1998
31
30
57
9
2
5
29.0
6.7
8.7
1995
1994
1998
36
99
206
4
7
27
11.1
7.1
13.1
a Latest information available.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Women’s Rights and Status, Haiti, 1998; Report to the Inter-American
Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Grenada at the
Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; National Follow-up
Commission for the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer, 1999; Web page of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), [http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm];
Web page of the Bolivian Congress, [http://www.congreso.gov.bo/indexv3.html]; Web page of the Puerto
Rican Senate [http://www.senado.gvmt.pr.us/frame-senadores.htm].
63
Table 16
WOMEN IN THE LEGISLATURE: COUNTRIES WITH UNICAMERAL PARLIAMENTS,
LATEST ELECTIONS
(selected countries, ranked by percentages)
COUNTRY
British Virgin Islands
Cuba
Netherlands Antilles
Costa Rica
Guyana
Ecuador
El Salvador
Surinam
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Guatemala
Peru
Nicaragua
Dominica
Honduras
Cayman Islands
Panama
Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines
YEAR OF
ELECTIONS
BOTH SEXES
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
1998
1998
1998
1998
1997
1998
1997
1996
1995
1995
1995
1996
1995
1997
1996
1999
15
601
22
57
65
121
84
51
15
80
120
93
32
128
18
70
5
166
6
11
12
21
14
8
2
10
13
9
3
12
...
6
33.3
27.6
27.3
19.3
18.5
17.4
16.7
15.7
13.3
12.5
10.8
9.6
9.4
9.4
...
8.5
1998
21
1
4.8
Sources: Nicolasa Terreros Barrios, “Género y poder”, paper presented at the twenty-fourth Conference
of the Caribbean Studies Association: new frontiers for the new millennium, Panama City, 1998; Web
page of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), [http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm]; Elections in
the Web, [http://www.agora.it/elections/election/neth_ant.htm]; Elections in the Web, [http://
www.agora.it/elections/election/cayman.htm].
Most of the countries in the region have a bicameral parliament with a lower chamber,
the Chamber of Deputies, and an upper chamber or Senate. The latter has greater power
than the former because it has the power to veto or amend its decisions, or both. According
to the information gathered, the countries with the highest female representation in the
Senate are in the Caribbean: Belize, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The
lowest representation is found in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. In Haiti there are no women
in this position. The countries with the greatest female representation in their Chamber of
64
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Deputies are Argentina and Mexico, both of which are federal countries, while the lowest
female presence is in Paraguay. There is female representation at this level of the legislature
in all the countries for which information is available. The Caribbean countries have
substantially lower female representation at this level than in the Senate.
Another group of countries have unicameral parliaments. Among these, the highest
female representation is once again found in the Caribbean, in the British Virgin Islands,
Cuba and the Netherlands Antilles, but so is the lowest, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
On average, they have higher female representation than do bicameral parliaments. This
indicator shows results that are a very long way from the objective of parity, and although
some countries are more than halfway to the target, among those with bicameral parliaments
this is the case only with one of the chambers.
a) Parliamentary commissions for women’s affairs
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of countries that have a
parliamentary commission specializing in legislative matters related to women. These
commissions vary in their make-up, but they all have a similar purpose: to protect the
rights of women and achieve progress towards gender equity. In some cases these
commissions are made up exclusively of women parliamentarians, and they are generally
chaired by women. In other countries they are legislative advisory bodies with responsibility
for proposing and amending legislation. In the Dominican Republic, for example, the
commission is composed of “prominent women” and has an honorific character. Again,
there are variations in the extent to which these commissions are institutionalized, i.e. how
long they remain in existence and how far they are integrated into general legislative
work. Some are dependent on individual legislatures and are renewed, altered or disbanded
after each parliamentary election. This is the case in Bolivia, where a Commission on
Women was set up for the first time in 1983, and where there is now a Gender and
Generational Affairs Committee, set up in 1997.
In around half of the countries with unicameral parliaments there are legislative
commissions that deal with issues concerning women. In Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru these commissions deal with women’s issues from the point of
view of the family, or of human development.
65
Table 17
PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONS FOR WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, YEAR OF CREATION
COUNTRY
YEAR OF
CREATION
NAME
Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Colombia a
Cuba
1995
1997
1996
1991
...
1976
Bicameral Commission for Women’s Rights
Gender and Generational Affairs Committee (Chamber of Deputies)
Beijing Commission
Family Commission (Chamber of Deputies)
Seventh Commission (Senate)
Standing Commission on Youth, Childhood and Equal Rights
for Women
Dominican
Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Peru
Puerto Rico
Uruguay
Venezuela
1995
1989
1991
1998
1986-87
1996
...
1997
1991
...
1996
...
1985
1997
Commission of Honorific Women Advosers to the Senate of the Republic
Parliamentary Commission on Women, Children and the Family
Commission on Women and the Family
Legal Reforms Committee
Commission on Women, Minors and the Family
National Commission on Women
Commission on Women
Equity and Gender Commission (both chambers)
Standing Commission on Women, Childhood, Youth and the Family
Parliamentary Commission on Women
Commission on Women, Human Development and Sport
Commission for Women’s Affairs (Senate)
Special “Status of Women” commission
Equity and Gender Commissions (Chamber of Deputies
and Senators)
... No information available.
a Deals with a wide range of women’s and family issues.
Sources: ECLAC “Directory of national organizations dealing with programmes and policies on women
in Latin America and the Caribbean”, ECLAC, Chile, 1998; Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz,
Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile, Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry
of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Htun Mala N.,
Participación, representación y liderazgo político en América Latina, Inter-American Dialogue/WLCA/
ICWR, United States of America, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development
Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Affairs and Social Security, Ministry of Housing, Grenada,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department
of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for
Social Studies and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Report to the Inter-American Commission of
Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by Venezuela at the Twentyninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998; National Follow-up
Commission for the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial
Cotidiano Mujer, 1999; Web page of the Colombian Senate, [http://www.senado.gov.co/Senado/ARLEG/
Dtarleg.htm]; Web page of the Colombian Congress, [http://www.congreso.gob.gt/Congreso.htm]; Web
page of the Puerto Rican Senate, [http://www.senado.gvmt.pr.us/frame-senadores.htm].
66
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
In bicameral parliaments, commissions generally sit in the lower chamber, the exceptions
being Mexico and Venezuela, where they are bicameral. In Colombia, women’s affairs are
discussed in an upper chamber commission that deals with a host of other subjects; in
Puerto Rico the commission is based in the Senate. Commissions of this kind that were set
up before Beijing have a family-oriented approach, while those set up subsequently tend
to focus on rights and equity. The names of commissions and the date they were founded
give an idea of their approach – whether they are more concerned with welfare or promotion,
women or gender. They also reveal the ideological and power balance that exists in each
parliament. The importance of these bodies derives on the one hand from their role in
legitimizing the legislative needs that arise from the position of women and, on the other,
from their ability to ensure that the parliamentary initiatives analysed are dealt with more
rapidly and with more specialist knowledge. At the same time, they provide a learning
experience for those who sit on them. The existence of these commissions reveals the
political commitment of the executive or its legislators to gender equity. Many of them
participated in the World Conference in Beijing and in the activities of the InterParliamentary Union. Differences in their institutional status are indicative of different
levels of commitment.
b) Quota laws
The debate about policies to increase the representation of women in public life has
recognized the importance of the affirmative action measures suggested by the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Regulations establishing
a quota for women in representative positions are considered to be the most appropriate
mechanism. The purpose of quotas is to offset the imbalance from which women suffer; as
a positive form of action, they are designed to re-establish proportionality. To do this,
quotas lay down a minimum and maximum percentage of representation per sex.4
4
In 1997 the Inter-Parliamentary Union defined a quota as “a temporary measure to facilitate the emergence of
a new culture allowing for balanced representation of men and women in parliament and within the governing
bodies of political parties”. In 1996, the Council of Europe viewed this measure as a way of sharing power
between women and men.
67
The existence of a quota law gives rise to at least three questions. Does greater female
representation ensure progress in equity for women? What are the limits, and how should
such legislation be implemented in practice? How effective will it really be in increasing
female representation? The current debate has thrown up a range of arguments, both for
and against, in respect of the goal of increasing the number and quality of women leaders
in the world. The arguments in favour are various. Women need to be better represented in
decision-making, since if they are not the system is failing to use all its resources efficiently.
The socialization experience of women means that they look at the world differently, and
female participation in decision-making would raise new questions and give rise to
innovation. A greater number of women in positions of power would ensure that the interests
of other women were safeguarded. Equitable participation by women in public life would
mean that the principle of equality could actually be put into practice. These arguments
are based both on the equality between women and men and on recognition of their
differences. There are also arguments against, though of a different kind. It is claimed that
women are relatively lacking in the skills and experience needed to take on major
responsibilities owing to the fact that they have traditionally been confined to the private
sphere. It is also affirmed that there are different groups of women, and therefore different
interests. Emphasis is laid on the importance of social class and on the danger that access
to privileges will generate differences between women. Analysis of the arguments on either
side involves asking why and to what end it is believed that women should have power.
The response is to be found somewhere in between the arguments for and against. It is
perfectly true that women are not a homogeneous social group, since the societies of the
region are based on numerous forms of differentiation – by gender, class, race, ethnicity,
generation, etc. – which are of long standing, but it is possible to say that women have
shared experiences. This means that quotas, while they may not necessarily ensure that
women in power will act on the basis of their identity as women, are favourable to the
exercise of social pluralism. In other words, while the interests of different women are not
always the same, their common experience of being women means that political
representation can act as a conduit for the varied social needs of women.
These mechanisms first made their appearance in Latin America with the passing of
the Argentine quota law (1991). According to the information available, 13 countries in
the region currently have quota laws either in force or under discussion. Quota percentages
vary from 20% to 30%. They generally apply to candidate lists, and provide a guarantee
that political competition will be tempered to a degree by equality of opportunities. In
some cases, such as that of Argentina, it is not only the quota but the electability of the
68
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
quota that is guaranteed, to ensure that it is effective. In several countries the quota is
progressive and tends towards parity. Only in the case of Argentina can an assessment
over time be made, but this demonstrates the effectiveness of the system. Since the law
came into force (1991), the proportion of women in the Chamber of Deputies has almost
quintupled, from 5.8% to 27.6%. Adoption of these measures is indicative of political will
among the different political actors involved in devising, negotiating and passing the relevant
legislation or rules. Their effects should be more visible in future.
3. THE JUDICIARY
There are important differences between the way women enter the judiciary and the
way they enter the executive or the legislature, as judges and magistrates are not
democratically elected.5 In some countries, the delay in obtaining citizenship was a
factor in denying women access to the judiciary. In Guatemala, for example, the first
female lawyer graduated in 1927, but she could not practise until 1946 because she did
not have the right to vote. In Peru women were expressly debarred from entering the
courts, for the same reason. The situation was different in Nicaragua, where women
were appointed as judges even though they were not citizens. Another exception was
Serafina Dávalos, appointed a member of the Higher Court of Justice in Paraguay in
1910, as no woman was ever appointed to a position in this court subsequently. The
systems used for administering justice differ widely between the countries, depending
on the judicial traditions to which they belong, the main divide being between those of
a Roman type and those of an English type.
The influx of women into the judiciary began to increase in the 1940s. The extent of this
increase varied between the different levels (first, second and third instance) and depended
on how judges and magistrates were appointed (by the judiciary itself, by the executive, by
the Senate or by public competition). In past decades it was also affected by the imperfect
separation of State powers in certain countries, this principle being violated on many occasions
by dictatorial Governments. Nonetheless, in recent years a large number of countries have
5
Cuba has People’s Courts that are elected by the Popular Assemblies of their respective levels.
69
introduced significant reforms in this area, guaranteeing the separation of powers, improving
appointment and promotion mechanisms and making it easier for women to enter the system.
The aim of the reforms is to modernize the administration of justice, and above all to improve
access for all sectors of society, particularly poor and marginalized ones.
Table 18
QUOTA LEGISLATION
COUNTRY
DATE
LEGISLATION
Argentina
Bolivia
1991
1997
Brazil
1997
Chile
Costa Rica
Domin. Rep.
Ecuador
Guyana
Mexico
1997
1996
1997
1997
...
1996
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
1997
1996
1997
Law no. 24012 (30%)
Reform and Completion of the Electoral System Act
(candidate list system) (30%)
Law 9504 (quota of 20% with provision for increase to 30%
in the year 2000)
Bill to amend the constitutional law on political parties
Law 7653 (quota for parties and Assembly delegations, 40%)
Electoral Law 275/ 97 (25%)
Labour Protection Act (20%)
Constitution/Equal Rights Act (30%)
Amendment to the Federal Code on Electoral Procedures
and Institutions (30%)
Law no. 22 (30%)
Law 834 Electoral Code (20%)
Law no. 26859 Article 116 of the Constitutional Law on
Elections (25%)
Law no. 26864 Article 10, subsection 2 of the Municipal
Elections Act (25%)
Suffrage and Political Participation Act (30%)
1997
Venezuela
1997
Sources: Jacqueline Jiménez Polanco, “Mujer y clase política en América Latina”, document presented
at the Twenty-first International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Chicago,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Electoral Service, Chile,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of the Interior, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Judiciary, Chile,
1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Service (SERNAM), Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women and Society Foundation, Ecuador, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of
Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of
Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies
and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of
the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Feminist Research and Advisory Centre FEMEA no. 78, Brasilia;
Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States
(OAS) presented by Panama at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the
Dominican Republic, 1998.
70
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
The participation of women in first and second instance courts has increased substantially
in recent decades, but the same has not happened at the higher level. The Supreme Court
of Justice is generally a court of cassation: it is the most important judicial body in all the
countries. At this highest level of the court system there are substantial differences between
the Caribbean countries and the rest of Latin America. The Latin American countries share
a tradition based on Roman law, which has different roots from those which provide the
basis for the legal systems of the English- and Dutch-speaking countries of the Caribbean.
In the Caribbean, most Commonwealth member countries (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines) share the Caribbean Supreme Court, which is based in Saint Lucia. This Court
has a resident representative in each country. Out of a total of six representatives, four are
women. In Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles the situation is different again, as the Supreme
Court of these countries is subject to the monarchy of the Netherlands. Bahamas, Jamaica
and Trinidad and Tobago have an independent Supreme Court whose members are proposed
by the head of Government and confirmed by the head of State.
In the countries of Latin America, members of supreme courts are generally ratified by
the legislature. The only exceptions are Paraguay and Peru, where members of the judiciary
itself elect representatives through councils of magistrates or judges. In some cases (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Uruguay), the candidates approved
by the legislature are proposed by the executive, although preselection may have been
carried out by the judges of the court. The proportion of women ministers in the supreme
court is under 10% or nil in most of the countries of South America. In Argentina, Bolivia,
Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Paraguay and Uruguay there are no women at this level and never
have been. By contrast, countries in the Caribbean and Central America (Cuba, Dominican
Republic, Granada, Guyana, Panama and Saint Lucia) have the highest percentage of
women. The case of Saint Lucia (83.3%) is particularly important, as it is tied in with the
administration of justice in a number of countries. In nine countries, almost all of them in
Central America and the Caribbean, women make up between 10% and 15% of the members
of this court. The fact that supreme court judges have to retire at a certain age in most of
the countries, combined with the increase in women’s numbers at the lower levels, gives
grounds for hoping that the number of women at that level will increase in the medium
term. Nonetheless, this indicator does not yet fully reflect the results of reform or the way
these will bring about a situation closer to parity. Most of the countries are not even half
way to the goal of 50%.
71
Table 19
WOMEN JUDGES IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE, 1990S
(ranked by percentages)
COUNTRY
YEAR
TOTAL
Saint Lucia
Guyana
Cuba a
Grenada
Dominican Republic
Panama
Puerto Rico
Nicaragua
Bahamas
El Salvador
Venezuela
Guatemala
Honduras
Jamaica
Costa Rica
Mexico
Ecuador
Brazil b
Argentina
Bolivia
Chile
Colombia
Haiti
Paraguay
Uruguay
Peru
1997
1998
1997
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1994
1998
1991
1993
1998
1998
1998
1996
1999
1998
1996
1998
1997
1999
1998
1998
1998
6
11
19
73
15
9
7
...
15
15
15
9
9
28
...
11
28
33
9
12
17
23
12
9
5
...
WOMEN
5
6
9
27
5
2
1
...
2
2
2
1
1
3
...
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
83.3
54.5
49.0
37.0
33.3
22.2
14.3
14.0
13.3
13.3
13.3
11.1
11.1
10.7
10.0
9.1
3.5
3.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
...
... No information available.
a People’s Supreme Court. Figures are for professional judges.
b Higher Court of Justice.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade
and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahamas, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and
Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies, Chile, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Electoral Service, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of the Interior, Chile,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Judiciary, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Service
(SERNAM), Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Higher Council of the Judicature, Colombia, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations
72
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women and Society Foundation,
Ecuador, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Affairs and Social Security, Ministry of Housing, Grenada,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of
Women’s Rights and Status, Haiti, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the
Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies and Publications (CESIP),
Peru, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Report to the InterAmerican Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented by
Nicaragua at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the Dominican Republic, 1998;
Feminist Research and Advisory Centre FEMEA no. 77, Brasilia; National Follow-up Commission for
the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer,
1990; Web page of the Brazilian Higher Court of Justice, [http://www.stj.gov.br/stj/default.asp]; Web
page of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Mexican Nation, [http://www.scjn.gob.mx/inicial.asp];
Magistrates of the Panamanian Supreme Court of Justice Web page, [http://www.sinfo.net/orgjup/
organo.htm]; Web page of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, [http://www.tribunalpr.org/pleno.html];
Web page of the Government of the Dominican Republic, [http://www.gov.do/Jueces/
Jueces%20SCJ.htm]; Web page of the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice, [http://www.csj.gov.ve/
magistrados/magistrados.html].
In the lower courts, the involvement of women tends to be largely restricted to cases
that deal with work, minors and the family. Now that reforms are under way, there are
judicial bodies in which women are playing an increasingly prominent part. These are
public prosecutors and ombudsmen, whether their work involves the protection of human
rights in general or those of women in particular. The existence of ombudsmen to protect
the rights of women is connected with the application of the laws penalizing domestic
violence that have been passed in most of the countries in the region. In those Latin American
countries that have recently experienced dictatorship or war, they are also designed to aid
the process of pacification. These ombudsmen exist in Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador
and Peru, among other countries. The differences that this indicator shows between the
countries in the Latin America and Caribbean subregions are striking. They are connected
with the legal traditions of the countries and the particular characteristics that have resulted
from the history and cultural roots of the judiciary and the reform processes implemented.
Thus, the situation is better in the Caribbean countries than in the Central American ones,
and in turn it is better here than in the South American countries.
73
V. POLITICAL PARTIES
F
emale participation in political parties has a long history, and includes the
creation of women’s political parties at the beginning of the century and during
the struggle to obtain citizenship. Mention may be made of the Women’s
Republican Party created in Brazil in 1910, the Feminist Party in Argentina in 1918, the
Women’s Civic Party in Chile in 1922 and the Feminist National Party in Panama in 1924,
among others.
Once citizenship had been achieved, many women in the suffragist movement,
convinced that this would ensure equality, joined the traditional political parties, thus
separating themselves from the movement and losing public visibility.
Historically, women have participated actively in different parties at the grass roots
level, but this has not been reflected adequately in national leaderships. This participation
is very important, as political parties are not only a system of representation and a channel
for intermediation between citizens and the State, but also a way in to political decisionmaking in the State.
According to the data obtained, the degree to which women are now represented on
the governing bodies of political parties varies greatly, especially within each country.
Participation rates range from 3% to 50%, the average being 20%, even though women
74
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
make up between 40% and 50% of the membership. The balance between women and
men on the governing bodies of political parties is not in most cases an equitable one.
Table 20
WOMEN ON THE NATIONAL GOVERNING BODIES OF POLITICAL
PARTIES, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
(selected countries)
COUNTRY
YEAR
NAME
GOVERNING BODIES
TOTAL
Argentina
1998
Bolivia
1998
Brazil
1998
Chile
1998
Colombia
Costa Rica
1997
1998
Cuba b
Dominica
Dominican Republic
1998
1997
1993
Justicialist Party
Radical Civic Union
FREPASO
Nationalist Revolutionary
Movement Free Bolivia
Movement National
Consciousness (CONDEPA)
Workers’ Party (PT)
Labour Democratic Party (PDT)
Christian Democrat Party
Socialist Party
Party for Democracy
Independent Democratic Union
National Renewal
Social Democratic Radical Party
Humanist party
Communist Party
Centre Progressive Centre
Union Party
Colombian Communist Party
Christian Social Unity (PUSC) a
National Liberation (PLN)
Communist Party of Cuba
Dominican Labour Party
Social Christian Reformist Party
Dominican Revolutionary Party
Dominican Communist Party
Dominican Workers’ Party
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
PERCENTAGE
OF TOTAL
33
25
8
12
7
2
2
1
2
1
6.1
8.0
12.5
16.6
14.2
9
86
121
46
36
41
17
30
30
7
5
32
2
26
18
9
6
11
1
4
4
3
1
1
22.2
30.2
14.8
19.5
16.6
28.8
5.8
13.3
13.3
42.8
20.0
3.1
...
70
70
150
11
39
297
22
27
...
28
8
20
3
10
30
1
1
18.1
40.0
11.4
13.6
27.0
25.6
10.1
4.5
3.7
75
Continuation Table 20
El Salvador
1993
Mexico
1997
Nicaragua c
1994
Panama
1997
Paraguay
1997
Saint Lucia
Uruguay
1997
1998
Venezuela
1997
ARENA
Christian Democrat Party
Revolutionary National
Movement National (FMLN)
Institutional Revolutionary Party
(PRI) National Action Party
Democratic Revolution Party
(PRD)
Sandinista National Liberation
Front Christian Social Party
Independent Liberal Party
Communist Party of Nicaragua
Christian Democrat Party
Liberal Party
Nationalist Republican Liberal
Movement
Panameñista Party (Arnulfist)
Democratic Revolutionary Party
Republican National Association
Authentic Radical Liberal Party
National Rendezvous Party
Febrerista Revolutionary Party
Christian Democra Party
United Workers Party
New Space
Broad Front
Colorado Party
National Party
Democratic Action
Social Christian Party (COPEI)
Movement to Socialism (MAS)
15
40
9
50
29
51
22
1
3
1
7
8
9
6
6.7
7.5
11.1
14.0
27.6
17.6
27.3
27
58
121
103
25
154
81
6
12
20
15
3
29
12
22.2
20.7
16.5
14.6
12.0
18.8
14.8
63
61
72
45
20
25
8
22
15
28
15
15
33
35
34
10
8
5
5
7
7
4
5
3
5
1
1
7
3
4
15.9
13.1
6.9
11.1
35.0
28.0
50.0
22.0
20.0
17.8
6.7
6.7
21.2
8.6
11.8
a National Assembly Members.
b Central Committee and Politburo.
c Regional management committees.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade
and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre
(CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Electoral Service, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of the Interior, Chile, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Judiciary, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Service (SERNAM), Chile,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs,
Dominica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay,
1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National
Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; National Follow-up Commission for
the Beijing Agreements (1999) El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano
Mujer, 1998; Feminist Research and Advisory Centre, FEMEA no. 64, Brasilia, May 1998; National
76
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Women’s Programme Coordination Office (PRONAM), Las mujeres en el proceso electoral, Mexico,
1997; National Women’s Council, Informe nacional. Situación de la mujer en Panamá 1996, Panama,
1997; Report to the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) of the Organization of American
States (OAS) presented by Panama at the Twenty-ninth Assembly of Delegates of IACW, held in the
Dominican Republic, 1998.
For decades political parties have had women’s branches, fronts, secretariats and
specialist commissions. With different objectives, depending on the historical context,
these often represent an effective way of increasing the presence of women and giving
them greater access to more senior positions. The legitimacy of these bodies varies between
parties. While in some cases they have influence and are strongly rooted in the social base,
with the power to bring about change, in others they have no real power and are marginal
to decision-making.
In the light of the progress made by women on the international and national agenda,
many of these commissions or sections have modernized their approach and made the
attainment of gender equity an internal objective. This has helped to bring change to parties.
Indeed, in a number of countries certain parties, influenced by European practice and
urged on by women themselves, have sought to increase female representation by
establishing internal quota systems. For this purpose they have amended party rules and
regulations, providing that no more than a certain percentage of internal leadership positions
within the party, and in some cases externally, may be held by either of the sexes. This
means that if women do not meet the agreed percentages in elections, the results have to
be changed.6 There are cases where party quotas operate differently,7 but in general the
internal quota systems applied by parties have met their objective efficiently. Such at least
has been the experience of those parties that have applied them. This indicator reflects
political will in some of the region’s parties, and the results of this should become apparent
in elections over the coming years.
6
In some countries the internal rules drawn up by parties are applied in addition to the quota provisions contained
in electoral laws.
7
In Chile, for example, members of the Christian Democrat Party are obliged by internal quota rules to vote for
a set percentage of women; these rules are not limited to establishing a quota of candidacies or elected positions,
but ensure that the quota is completely filled in relation to each vote. In the last internal elections this resulted in
women taking about 40% of local leadership positions.
77
In some countries, among which mention may be made of Brazil, the Dominican
Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, some political parties have put up women as
candidates for the presidency of the nation, successfully so in the cases of Panama and
Nicaragua. In Argentina, Graciela Fernández Meijide was an internal candidate for the
presidency, but lost the election within the coalition to which her party belongs. In the
latest presidential elections held in Chile, in 1999, the Communist Party put up Gladys
Marín as its candidate for the presidency.
Table 21
POLITICAL PARTIES WITH INTERNAL QUOTA REGULATIONS FOR WOMEN,
AROUND 1998
(percentage quota)
COUNTRY
PARTIES
Argentina
Radical Civic Union Party
Justicialist Party
Workers’ Party
Christian Democrat Party
Party for Democracy
Socialist Party
Institutional Revolutionary Party
Democratic Revolution Party
Republican National Association
National Rendezvous Party
Febrerista Revolutionary Party
Socialist Party
Democratic Action Party
Movement to Socialism Party
Brazil
Chile
Mexico
Paraguay
Uruguay
Venezuela
% QUOTA
30
30
30
25
40
40
30
30
20
33
33
30
33
30
... No information available.
Sources: Jacqueline Jiménez Polanco, “Mujer y clase política en América Latina”, document presented
at the Twenty-first International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Chicago;
Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Electoral Service, Chile, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Ministry of the Interior, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Judiciary, Chile, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, National Women’s Service (SERNAM), Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s
Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, National Institute for Family and Women’s Affairs, Uruguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
National Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Feminist Research and
Advisory Centre FEMEA no. 51, Brasilia, April 1997; Ecuadorian Women’s Political Coordinating
Committee, Informativo N° 7 (Special Constitution), Quito, undated; National Women’s Programme
Coordination Office (PRONAM), Las mujeres en el proceso electoral, Mexico, 1997.
VI. SOCIAL PARTICIPATION AND
LEADERSHIP BY WOMEN
F
emale participation in social organizations – unions, professional associations
and urban grass-roots organizations – dates back to the last century. As in
other spheres, though, the participation of women at the grass roots is not
reflected proportionately in national leaderships, although in recent years the role of women
has been increasing in some countries.
1. UNIONS
In the Latin American countries there is a strong tradition of workers’ and union organizations.
Created at the end of the nineteenth century, they drew their inspiration from European
syndicalism. As is well known, women participated in this nascent workers’ movement in
Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, and it was not long before
the first women’s unions were set up and went on to hold strikes and industrial action.
The incipient industrialization process of the import substitution model required large
contingents of female workers, particularly in the footwear and garment industries, among
others. Women’s federations and unions arose there, and a distinguished contribution was
made by leaders who participated in the workers’ struggles of the first decades of this
century. This early participation changed as the organization of workers became
80
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
institutionalized and the big union confederations were created in the 1930s, whereupon
women ceased to play an important role at the leadership level. This marginalization has
continued until the present day, as under-representation of women is the norm at the different
levels of the union movement.
Over the years, women have developed certain strategies to enhance their presence
and weight in the union movement, including the creation of women’s secretariats and
departments, link-ups between unions, and the holding of meetings and congresses for
women trade unionists. Although they do not have great influence on decisions of a political
nature, they have managed to have specifically female demands placed on the union agenda, such as wage equality, the right to own land in the countryside, denunciation of sexual
violence in the workplace and measures to combat it, an end to pregnancy testing for job
applicants, and child-care facilities.
The extent of female leadership in unions differs between sectors, reflecting the degree
to which these are feminized. Thus, greater female representation can be found in unions
from the service sector and certain branches of industry and commerce. Nonetheless, there
are a number of obstacles to the integration of women into union activity, among them being
the double working day, the lack of support services for household tasks and child care, the
weakness of the female working identity, and the dynamics of union operations, as everything
about these, from their political concerns and priorities to their hours, are very masculine.
Union confederations are the highest level of union organization. They bring together
union federations and groupings, both urban and rural, from all the different sectors of the
economy. For this report, information was collected on union confederations and also on
major national unions. Substantial differences can be identified between the countries of the
Caribbean and those of Latin America. In the latter, big union confederations predominate.
The information collected reveals great variations in the degree of female participation
on the national governing bodies of union confederations and national unions. In some
cases, women are completely absent, while in others they hold up to 60% of leadership
positions.
The union confederations and national unions where women are best represented are
the Dominica Amalgamated Workers’ Union (60%) and the Dominica Civil Service
Association (50%), the Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation and two unions in Saint Lucia
81
(40%), the United Workers’ Confederation in Brazil and the Peruvian Workers’
Confederation (both 30%). At the other extreme, there is no female presence in the General Labour Confederation in Argentina, the National Countryside Commission in Chile or
the National Workers’ Confederation in Paraguay. In some confederations and unions
women account for between 10% and 20%. This indicator reveals serious deficiencies in
the participation of women at the leadership level, although progress can be seen in certain
confederations and unions. These deficiencies often arise in grass-roots organizations
(unions, federations and groupings). It should be noted, however, that despite the difficulties
of recent years unions and union confederations have played a preponderant role in different
countries in securing progress in legislation on the protection of mothers, sexual harassment
and other issues. Similarly, they have secured ratification of International Labour
Organisation agreements by Governments.
The challenges for unions today come from the consequences of globalization, the
integration of markets, the greater “flexibility” of labour markets and the establishment of
new negotiating procedures. Female workers have been particularly affected, given their
history of job insecurity, under-protection and wage discrimination. Nonetheless, in some
cases of trade integration union leaders have joined in with negotiations on labour issues.
This is the case with MERCOSUR.
2. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
In the region, professional associations have a long record of developing the professions
they represent, acting as conduits for specific demands and protecting professional ethics.
They have also played a significant political role in the democratization processes of certain
countries, such as Brazil and Chile.
Participation by women in professional associations has been increasing, but this is
not reflected proportionately at the leadership level. At the same time, segmentation by
gender in the workforce is echoed at this level. Thus, women are well represented in
associations of psychologists, nurses, chemists and lawyers, while in medical or engineering
associations their presence is virtually nil. By and large, the representation of women on
governing bodies is not proportionate to their numbers in the membership, and this indicator
is therefore unsatisfactory, with very few exceptions.
82
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Table 22
WOMEN ON THE NATIONAL GOVERNING BODIES OF NATIONAL UNIONS AND UNION CONFEDERATIONS,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
(selected countries)
COUNTRY
YEAR
ORGANIZATION
LEADERSHIP
LEVEL
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
% OF TOTAL
Argentina
1994
General Labour Confederation
24
0
0.0
Trade Union
National Governing
Council
Executives
Aruba
1998
11
1
9.1
Barbados
1998
CTUSAB
Executives
65
19
29.2
Bolivia
1997
Bolivian Workers’ Federation
Executive Committee
40
1
2.5
Brazil a
1998
United Workers’ Confederation
Executives
...
...
30.0
British
Virgin Islands
1998
Teachers’ Union
National Executive
...
1
...
Chile a
1998
Amalgamated Workers’ Confederation
7
2
28.0
Colombia
1997
1
87
90
0
6
8
0.0
6.9
8.8
Cuba
1996
20
5
25.0
Dominica
1997
13
11
13
28
10
7
2
2
8
6
50.0
20.0
20.0
30.0
60.0
Dominican
Rep. b
1991
Amalgamated Workers’ Confederation
Executive Bureau
11
2
18.2
Mexico
1991
Mexican Workers’ Confederation
National Executive Board
47
2
4.3
Nicaragua c
1993
National Workers’ Confederation
National Executive Board
12
3
25.0
Panama
1997
Alliance of seven Confederations
Governing Boards
88
12
13.6
National Executive
Board
National Countryside Commission
Presidency
Colombian Workers’ Confederation
National Executive Board
Amalgamated Workers’ Confederation Executive Committee
and National Board
Cuban Workers’ Confederation
Secretariat of the
Seventeenth Congress
Civil Service Association
Executives
Waterfront and Allied Workers’ Union Executives
Dominica Trade Union
Executives
Dominica Teachers’ Association
Executives
Dominica Amalgamated
Executives
Workers’ Union
83
Continuation Table 22
Paraguay
Peru
1997
1994
Combined Workers’
Confederation
National Workers’
Confederation
Paraguayan Workers’
Confederation
State Union Confederation
National Executive
Board
National Executive
Board
National Executive
Board
National Executive Board
19
2
10.5
25
0
0.0
27
3
10.0
14
2
10.0
General Confederation of Peruvian
Workers
Peruvian Workers’ Confederation
Peruvian Farmers’ Confederation
National Leadership
53
2
3.0
National Leadership
National Leadership
16
23
5
3
30.0
10.0
Saint Lucia
1997
St. Lucia Civil Service Association
St. Lucia Teachers’ Union
National Workers’ Union
Executives
Executives
Executives
10
7
22
4
3
5
40.0
40.0
20.0
Uruguay
1998
Inter-Union Workers’ Assembly
Executive Secretariat
13
1
7.6
Venezuela d
1998
Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation
General Confederation of Workers
Venezuelan Amalgamated Workers’
Confederation
CODESA
National Executives
National Executives
National Executives
17
24
15
6
2
3
40.0
10.0
20.0
National Executives
11
1
9.0
a Largest confederation.
b There are other confederations in the country.
c Confederation of longest standing.
d Confederation with the most members.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social
Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Barbados, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and
Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Desk - Chief Minister’s
Office, British Virgin Islands, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Higher Council of the Judicature, Colombia,
1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Dominica, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Youth, Women,
Childhood and the Family, Panama, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the
Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry for Women’s Affairs and Human Development
(PROMUDEH), Peru, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Saint Lucia, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of the Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Feminist Research
and Advisory Centre FEMEA no. 64, Brasilia, May 1998; National Follow-up Commission for the
Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer, 1998;
Guía Silber, Santiago, Chile, 1998.
84
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Table 23
WOMEN ON THE GOVERNING BODIES OF SELECTED PROFESSIONAL
ASSOCIATIONS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
(selected countries)
COUNTRY
YEAR
Brazil
1998
Chile
1998
Costa Rica
1998
Nicaragua
1994
Paraguay
1998
Peru
1998
NAME OF THE ORGANIZATION
Brazilian Lawyers’ Organization
Brazilian Press Association
Federal Council of Medicine
Bar Association
Medical Association
Association of Engineers
Association of Journalists
Association of Psychologists
Association of Journalists
Political Sciences Association
College of Nurses
Association of Geologists
Association of Agronomists
Association of Chemists
Nicaraguan National Confederation
of Self-Employed Teachers
Paraguayan Studies Association
Association of Agronomists
Paraguayan Architects’ Association
Paraguayan Engineers’ Centre
Paraguayan Doctors’ Circle
Paraguayan Clerks’ Association
Association of Economics Graduates
Psychologists’ Association
College of Pharmacists
Association of Accountants
Bar Association
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS %
OF TOTAL
...
...
...
20
34
21
11
9
8
8
8
8
...
8
6
1
0
0
3
3
2
2
5
2
3
8
3
0
6
3
...
0.0
0.0
15.0
8.8
9.5
18.1
55.6
25.0
37.5
100.0
37.5
0.0
75.0
50.0
9
18
10
8
16
14
8
37
15
15
10
3
3
1
1
5
7
3
15
13
4
2
33.3
16.7
10.0
12.5
31.3
50.0
37.5
40.5
86.7
26.7
20.0
a Contains 14 professional associations.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Nicaraguan National Women’s Institute, Nicaragua, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of Women,
Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies and
Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Feminist Research and Advisory Centre FEMEA no. 64, Brasilia,
May 1998; Guía Silber, Santiago, Chile, 1998.
85
3. EMPLOYERS’ ORGANIZATIONS
The situation in business or employers’ associations is very different. These are
organizations that hold a great deal of power, particularly since the entrenchment of
economic models of a neoliberal bent that assign them a leading role in economic
development. Here, the presence of women is virtually nil. The exceptions are found, in
certain countries, in industry, trade and exporting. Colombia stands out, with women
accounting for 35% of the leadership in the industrial sphere, while in Nicaragua women
have a representation of around 17% in the Chamber of Commerce. Since these decisionmaking bodies act as the political arm of those who hold economic power, the dearth of
women is particularly regrettable.
Primarily, this is a reflection of the difficulties women face in gaining access to either
decision-making or representative positions in the world of private enterprise and business. This is an eminently male world where the mechanisms used to discriminate against
women are renewed and refined as they improve their position there. The participation
deficit is doubly severe: women are not present in companies either as owners or as
executives, nor are they represented in their organizations.
4. WOMEN’S SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
Collective action by women, although poorly documented, goes back in some countries
to the nineteenth century. Initially confined purely to welfare work, it gradually opened out
to concerns about the status of women, which were expressed in cultural, suffragist and
feminist organizations that fought for access to education, labour reforms and equality with
men in civil and political rights. Once women had obtained the vote, women’s movements
and organizations dispersed. Many of their members joined political parties, while others
went into the different State authorities, sectors of the civil service and also the universities.
They gradually integrated into the areas that had been opened up by their own efforts.
The social activities of women are interwoven with the political, economic and social
history of the region. The periods in which they have come to prominence and the areas in
which they have worked have been determined by their needs as women, those of their
families, and indeed those of society as a whole.
86
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
During the course of this century, over and above the great differences between and
within countries, we can distinguish certain strands of female organization that are found,
with different degrees of development, in many of them: feminism, welfare, charity and
voluntary work, political movements, the fight for human rights, the struggle for subsistence
and equality of access to power. These strands came together at certain times in pursuit of
common objectives, producing a rich social fabric and movement.
In particular, women’s social organizations played an important role in the different
countries after the 1970s, when they formed a broadly based movement that brought together
everything from neighbourhood and community organizations to women’s political
organizations. It was in these decades that we saw the flowering of non-governmental
organizations, small non-profit-making institutions that carried out research and worked
for the advancement of women. The creation of women’s homes, information centres and
battered women’s hostels brought a support network into being in communities and cities.
In those Latin American countries with a history of political repression, the participation
of women was important in the human rights movement. These organizations aimed not
only to democratize society but also to combat discrimination against women and defend
human rights.
Again, factors like the economic depression of the 1980s and the demographic changes
produced by the modernization process led to social organizations providing a focal point
for the creation of strategies for collective survival in a world that was giving rise to new
needs. In historical terms, the work of social organizations has been moving from the
social to the political sphere (Valdés, Pérez de Arce and Faúndez, 1999). As their objectives
have transcended the merely local and particular, these organizations have been making
more universal demands.
Linkage and coordination between organizations in different countries began to increase
in the 1970s, a particularly important development being the feminist congresses of Latin
America and the Caribbean inaugurated in Colombia in 1981. In 1999 the eighth congress
is to be held in the Dominican Republic. These have been attended first by hundreds and
then by thousands of feminists in the region. They are the culmination of the congresses
and meetings held in the different countries and are of great importance as an expression
of identity and for the feminist debates that take place there.
87
Table 24
WOMEN ON THE GOVERNING BODIES OF SELECTED BUSINESS OR EMPLOYERS’
ORGANIZATIONS, LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE
COUNTRY
YEAR
Bolivia
1993
Brazil
1990
Chile
1998
Colombia
1997
El Salvador
1994
Mexico
1994
Nicaragua
1993
Paraguay
1998
Peru
Uruguay
Venezuela
1994
1998
1991
BUSINESS OR EMPLOYERS’
ORGANIZATION
Bolivian Private Employers’
Confederation
National Industry Confederation (CNI)
National Trade Confederation
Rio de Janeiro Industry Federation
State of Sao Paulo Industry Federation
National Agricultural Society
Banking Association
Industrial Development Society
Chilean Construction Chamber
National Society of Mining
National Association of Industrialists
(ANDI)
National Private Enterprise
Association a
Confederation of National Chambers
of Industry
Confederation of National Chambers
of Commerce
Higher Council of Private Enterprise
Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce
Federation of producers, industry
and commerce
Rural Association of Paraguay
Chamber of Exporters
Paraguayan Industrial Union
Christian Employers’ Association
Association of Exporters
Chamber of Industry
FEDECAMARAS b
TOTAL
WOMEN
WOMEN AS
% OF TOTAL
10
0
0.0
15
33
26
28
11
9
13
11
4
17
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
6
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
35.3
355
18
5.1
74
2
2.7
305
11
3.6
20
12
16
1
2
0
5.0
16.7
0.0
37
9
14
13
37
16
301
0
0
0
1
2
1
14
0.0
0.0
0.0
7.7
5.4
6.2
4.7
a Represents 37 associations.
b Presidents of chambers.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Higher Council of the Judicature, Colombia, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Department of Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Centre for Social Studies and Publications (CESIP), Peru, 1998; Guía Silber, Santiago, Chile, 1998; National Follow-up Commission for the Beijing Agreements (1999), El Estado uruguayo y
las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial Cotidiano Mujer, 1998.
88
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Among the main forms of political action undertaken by women, both nationally and
regionally, have been thematic networks. Women’s organizations and non-governmental
organizations have built up thematic networks to deal with the subjects of health, violence,
work, adult education, etc., and they have also been formed in other specific sectors,
covering for example black, indigenous and lesbian women. This practice has spread to
the whole region, feeding back into the national networks of which they are formed.
In 1984, the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network,
which links together national networks, non-governmental organizations, other
organizations and individual women, marked the beginning of coordinated action by women
from the movement in the region. The Network sets a regional and local action agenda for
each year. Particularly noteworthy are the campaigns mounted to prevent maternal mortality,
decriminalize abortion and secure humanitarian treatment for incomplete abortion. The
networks and organizations in each country implement these campaigns in a way that is
tailored to national characteristics and situations.
In 1988 the Women’s Popular Education Network was set up, to be followed in 1990
by the Latin American and Caribbean Network against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Regional networks for black women, indigenous women, lesbian women and women
parliamentarians have also been created. These networks have come into being because of
the need to take coordinated political action internationally, but from the basis of individual organizations and individual countries. This makes it possible to exchange information
and resources, implement a common agenda and strengthen each organization or institution.
Working in networks requires clear objectives and working plans, ties of trust, and
motivation and interest on the part of participants (Keck and Sikkink, 1998). Networks
have drawn up international agendas that have been institutionalized in a timetable of
events attended by the women’s movement from year to year, examples being the
International Day of Action for Women’s Health (28 May), No more violence against
women day (25 November), and International Women’s Day (8 March). All of them have
participated actively in the World Conferences (Cairo, Beijing, the International Conference
on Adult Education, etc.), promoting changes in legislation and the application of specific
programmes in the individual countries. An outstanding contribution was made by the
Latin American and Caribbean Network against Sexual and Domestic Violence in drawing
up the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against
Women (Belem do Pará, 1994).
89
Again, a number of organizations, non-governmental organizations among them, have
created territorial coordination mechanisms, associations and federations built around the
special characteristics of each country. All of these aim to enhance and amplify the activities
of their members.
Table 25
NATIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORKS AND COORDINATION BODIES,
LATEST YEAR AVAILABLE a
(by number in each country)
COUNTRY
YEAR
NUMBER
Brazil b
Argentina
Peru
Chile
Venezuela
Mexico
Colombia
Ecuador
Uruguay d
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Paraguay
Bolivia
Nicaragua
Panama c
Cuba
Grenada
Guatemala
Honduras
Dominican Republic
1987
1998
1992
1991
1993
1998
1993
1992
1997
1993
1993
1998
1998
1998
1993
1997
1998
1989
1989
1993
18
16
11
8
8
6
5
5
5
4
4
4
3
3
2
1
1
1
1
1
a Includes networks and coordination bodies of non-governmental organizations and women’s social
organizations.
b Includes federations, movements and networks of which only two are Brazilian.
c Includes Forum of Women in Political Parties.
d Covers coordination bodies, federations and networks.
Sources: Teresa Valdés and Enrique Gómariz, Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras, Santiago, Chile,
Institute for Women’s Studies, Spanish Ministry of Social Affairs and Latin American Faculty of Social
Sciences (FLACSO), 1995; Report to ECLAC, Women’s Information and Development Centre (CIDEM),
Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, Women’s Affairs and Social Security, Ministry of Housing, Grenada, 1998; Report
to ECLAC, Department of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to
ECLAC, Nicaraguan National Women’s Institute, Nicaragua, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department of
90
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Women, Presidency of the Republic, Paraguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Institute for Family
and Women’s Affairs, Uruguay, 1998; Zita Montes de Oca, Directorio instituciones de mujeres, Buenos
Aires, Feminist Information and Documentation Centre, undated.
The process of preparing for the Beijing Conference, which was done at the regional
and subregional levels, contributed to closer links between women’s organizations in the
different countries and non-governmental organizations and academic centres, giving a
new impetus to the women’s movement and creating the conditions for a new movement
embracing the entire region. Important processes took place within the countries, and
these are now bearing fruit in the rewriting of their political agendas.
As the process of preparing for the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing,
1995) got under way, regional and subregional meetings and exchanges became more
frequent. In the process of organizing the Non-Governmental Organizations’ Forum, held
in Mar del Plata (1994), subregional8 coordination systems and a regional9 coordination
structure were created to discuss an agenda for women on the basis of meetings held in the
countries. Hundreds of women from throughout the region met in Mar del Plata and new
networks, such as the one for indigenous women, were created. Family violence, structural
adjustment policies and women’s participation and citizenship were the principle subject
areas discussed.
A parallel process took place at the Cairo Conference where, under the leadership
of the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network, the women’s
movement used its influence to help secure important new measures that were embodied
in a world Plan of Action dealing with sexual and reproductive rights. At the World
Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, Latin American organizations,
in collaboration with first world ones, were instrumental in securing full inclusion of
women’s human rights. Similarly, with the creation of the Latin American and
Caribbean Network against Sexual and Domestic Violence they contributed to the
drafting of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence
against Women (Belem do Pará, 1994).
8
9
The subregions were: the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, the Andean Region, Brazil and the Cono Sur.
This was run by Virginia Vargas, a feminist leader of long experience, who is a member of the Flora Tristán
Centre, based in Lima, Peru. She was joined in this work by Ana Falú from Córdoba in Argentina.
91
In the 1980s and 1990s the women’s movement has become increasingly
institutionalized, largely through the creation of small institutions (non-governmental
organizations). This has led to greater specialization and has altered relations with public
bodies, but has given rise to tensions within the movement, largely due to the difficulty of
maintaining and developing links with grass-roots social organizations and to the type of
relations that have been established with the State.
The financing crises they have faced in many countries have meant that more of them
have had to fall in with the wishes and proposals of public bodies, acting in their professional
technical role as executors of programmes or consultants, and largely losing their political
role. This has brought to the surface the issues of the movement’s independence and the
type of relationship it should have with the State. This tension has become more acute as
governmental mechanisms have largely taken over what was the agenda of the movement
in the 1970s and 1980s. Again, professionals and specialists from the women’s nongovernmental sphere have moved into the agencies and structures created in public bodies
following the development of equality policies. In many countries they have been actively
involved in incorporating the equity agenda into policies. Nonetheless, these significant
contributions have had consequences for the non-governmental world, and the greatest
challenge has been to plan a new women’s agenda for the third millennium, building on
achievements to date.
Since the Beijing Conference, the organizations in the movement have adopted a variety
of strategies to make the Platform for Action an instrument of political action for women.
They have increasingly been adopting a citizen oversight approach to redefine relations
with the State.
At the regional level, contacts between thematic networks have been continued and
new meetings are planned to prepare for the extraordinary session of the United Nations
General Assembly, which will deal with the subject of “Women in the year 2000: equality
between the genders, development and peace for the twenty-first century”. The objective
of all these meetings was and is to assess how much ground has been gained or lost by
women and to what extent the agreements contained in the Cairo world Programme of
Action and the Beijing world Platform for Action have been honoured.
92
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
5. WOMEN’S PROGRAMMES AND COURSES IN CENTRES OF HIGHER
EDUCATION
Increasingly over the last few years, universities have been instituting women’s
programmes and courses, including specific women’s studies and the introduction of a
gender perspective into different disciplines. Most of these are in undergraduate and
postgraduate programmes in the humanities, law and social sciences. The introduction of
these subjects by universities is having at least two effects. On the one hand, new knowledge
is being produced and accumulated and old problems re-examined through the application
of new paradigms, while on the other hand a new transversal approach is being taken to
the different disciplines.
Given the role that higher education plays in socializing and training future professionals,
academics, etc., the introduction of these courses as agents of change and innovation is of
the greatest importance. This indicator reveals partial progress in what is a strategic area,
the training of human resources sensitive to gender equity.
Table 26
WOMEN’S PROGRAMMES AND COURSES IN UNIVERSITIES AT THE
UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE LEVELS, 1997-1998
(selected countries, by number of courses and programmes in each country)
COUNTRY
YEAR
UNDERGRADUATE
POSTGRADUATE
TOTAL
Cuba
Argentina
Mexico
Nicaragua
Chile
Costa Rica
Panama
Uruguay
Aruba
Bolivia
Ecuador
Grenada
Peru
Venezuela
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1997
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
1998
15
...
5
6
5
1
...
2
0
0
...
2
...
3
22
...
10
3
3
2
...
1
0
1
4
...
1
...
37
30
15
9
8
3
3
3
0
1
...
...
...
...
93
... No information available.
Sources: Report to ECLAC, Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Argentina, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Aruba, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Women’s
Information and Development Centre (CIDEM), Bolivia, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Chamber of Deputies,
Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Electoral Service, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Ministry of the
Interior, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Judiciary, Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s
Service (SERNAM), Chile, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Costa Rican Women’s Alliance, Costa Rica, 1998;
Report to ECLAC, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cuba, 1998; Report to ECLAC,
Women’s Affairs and Social Security, Ministry of Housing, Grenada, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Department
of Foreign Relations, International Women’s Affairs, Mexico, 1998; Report to ECLAC, Nicaraguan
National Women’s Institute, Nicaragua, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Institute for Family and
Women’s Affairs, Uruguay, 1998; Report to ECLAC, National Women’s Council, Presidency of the
Republic, Venezuela, 1998; Manuela Ramos Movement, “El sistema de cuotas: Una propuesta para la
participación política de la mujer”, working document no. 1, undated; Manuela Ramos Movement,
Servicio de Información a congresistas nos. 14, 17, 18, 19 and 20, Peru, 1997; National Follow-up
Commission for the Beijing Agreements, El Estado uruguayo y las mujeres, Montevideo, Editorial
Cotidiano Mujer, 1997.
VII. SOME FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
T
he information collected enables us to draw conclusions on at least two subjects:
the quality of the information available, the gaps in it and its actual content,
and what the indicators reveal as being the situation in the region and its
subregions. It also throws up new challenges for Governments.
1. INFORMATION FOR CHANGE
Given these results, the priority is to improve the information available. What is needed
for this is a systematic record of information broken down by sex, converted into statistics
and made available for public access. A review of the list of indicators included in the
Annex gives an idea of how much of the information needed to understand the situation of
women and their changing participation is unavailable.
When seeking information to cast light on the situation of women in the different
spheres of socio-political participation, we are confronted with a number of difficulties.
The first of these is that the type of statistical information needed is not available separately
for each sex. Although there are bodies in the different countries that regularly measure
96
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
some of the data required, it is rare for this information to be broken down by sex. This is
the case with information on elections. More importance is attached to the distribution
between political parties than between the sexes. In other cases, information is not recorded
in the form of continuous statistics, examples being data on women in cabinet positions,
ambassadorships and other posts to which appointments are made by the authorities.
Information can seldom be found on the membership or leadership of political parties,
unions, professional and employers’ organizations, etc. The most difficult data to obtain,
however, are those on women’s organizations themselves, from the most institutionalized,
such as non-governmental organizations, civil associations and feminist organizations, to
the grass-roots organizations and other groupings that make up the wider women’s
movement, its alliances and its networks.
The whole complex of women’s associations is very dynamic and has undergone marked
changes in recent years, but as neither quantitative nor historical records are available it is
impossible to give an account of the social process it represents. These associations, in
fact, are real schools of female leadership and, in many cases, an antechamber through
which women pass into the traditional spheres of politics.
The gaps in the information provided by this document may help to make different
social actors and sectors aware of the importance of having accurate and reliable records
and statistics in this subject area that are broken down by sex and produced and published
regularly. These would make it possible to produce historical series with more accurate
indicators that would facilitate evaluation of the overall impact of the gender equity measures
that are being applied and to identify obstacles and challenges more accurately.
At the regional level, the diversity of institutional and legal situations in the countries
means that it is not always possible to establish comparisons between them. In some cases, different ways of doing things prevent information being collated in a standardized
form, one example being voter registration, which is automatic in some countries and
voluntary in others. In other cases, we cannot be sure that the information collected means
the same thing in the different countries. The way governors are chosen (in states, provinces,
departments or regions) is one example of this: in some countries they are democratically
elected, while in others they are appointed by the highest national authority, which means
that the indicator is dealing with different systems and processes.
97
Another complex case is that of female participation in the administration of justice,
owing to the fact that major reforms have been implemented in the judiciary in recent
years. In some countries new positions and bodies have been created, while in others the
make-up, rank and appointment mechanism of the structure is different (competition based
on experience or appointment by higher officials).
Furthermore, the concept of an “indicator” is not generally understood. Indicators are not
just information, but provide a comparison, a meaningful and expressive account of a social
process that we wish to understand, a process of change that we wish to observe. This means
that full information is needed for each indicator (the total number of positions and the
number of women in them, for example). Again, not all sources are equally reliable. Official
or specialist sources, or both, carrying a guarantee of rigour in the way the information is
collected and processed, are not always available. This is especially important for the
Caribbean subregion, where basic information needs to be centralized, a process involving
not only systematization but also the construction of systems of common indicators.
Where some subjects are concerned, specific research needs to be carried out, for
example to produce records of women’s organizations broken down by objectives and
activities, or of female participation in political parties.
All the information presented here ought to be broken down to reflect the situation at
lower levels: in states, in provinces and locally. This would provide a picture of the internal
diversity of countries and enable comparisons to be made so that the factors associated
with similarities and differences could be identified. In federal countries this would involve
research at the level of states or provinces (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela) that are
independent of the national or federal level.
There is also a need for comparative analyses of the political and institutional processes
experienced by the different countries and subregions. This would provide a fuller context
within which to assess the meaning of these indicators in each country and ascertain why
women have achieved higher levels of participation in some countries than in others, and
to identify the peculiarities and obstacles that exist in countries with lower levels of
participation. This type of research would enable us to identify which political systems
have been the most favourable to the attainment of equity and under what conditions, or to
ascertain whether the deciding factor has been the political strength of organized women
and their alliances with other institutional or social actors.
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PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Lastly, whereas the indicators identified for this report relate to female participation and
the political will to improve it, in future we shall need to construct indicators that enable the
impact of these agencies and measures to be evaluated. It would be desirable to produce an
index that synthesized all these indicators and enabled the situations of different countries
and the developments that occurred, be they positive or negative, to be compared over time,
in the same way as the Human Development Index (United Nations Development Programme)
does. This can be done once the avenues of research described have produced results.
2. PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE
CARIBBEAN
In substantive terms, it may be said that women continue to be under-represented in
the different spheres of power, but at the same time there are signs to suggest that certain
actors have the political will to alter this situation for the better, and this points to changes
in the medium term. Nonetheless, the situation between and within countries is quite diverse,
and we do not necessarily have access to the specific information that would enable us to
appreciate the variety of situations that exists in each of them. In other words, we only
have an overall picture, for certain indicators.
It is important to emphasize the differences between the subregions. The situation of
Latin America is quite different from that of the English- and French-speaking Caribbean.
Political processes, the institutional framework in the individual countries and subregions,
social history and cultural roots have brought into being particular contexts that make it
difficult to interpret the two subregions from the same standpoint. Consequently, substantive
comparative research that takes these factors into account will be required for a proper
reading of the information collected in this text. Over and above the diversity of the region,
the Caribbean countries share a subregional institutional structure that provides a certain
homogeneity and some common criteria for addressing political and economic challenges.
CARICOM and the relationship that many of the countries have with the Commonwealth
provide a sense of community that goes beyond mere economic integration. The way the
State is structured and the relations between it and civil society, and between the countries
making up the subregion, are affected by this, something which is borne out by the common
traits brought to light by several of the indicators chosen here, which point to an increase
in the importance assigned to women and gender equity in their policies.
99
Unlike the Caribbean, the Latin American countries display great diversity both
internally and with respect to one another. In this subregion, the indicators presented here
are not always consistent within individual countries. In a given country women might be
well represented in parliament, but not at all in unions or the judiciary. This means that
positive results do not indicate a general policy of facilitating the access of women to
decision-making, but rather that each sphere has its own dynamic and operates as a closed
system.
Citizenship would appear to be a contradictory and elusive state for the women of our
countries, since although substantial progress has been made with political and civil rights,
economic, social and cultural rights have not been fully achieved. These are rights that
require the State to play an active role, just when we are seeing the State withdraw from
the work of social protection.
The idea of citizenship is linked in practice to power-related conflicts, reflecting struggles
over who can say what when common problems have to be solved, and how these problems
will be addressed (Jelin, 1996, p. 116). State modernization and reform processes,
decentralization and globalization have led to strong tensions arising in relation to the
participation of women. The institutional actors concerned do not always take account of
the right to have rights and to participate in the public debate over the content of standards,
laws and policies, in other words the exercise of citizenship. These are processes that,
taken all together, evince citizenship deficits.
Despite these deficits, women have secured greater access to decision-making. This is
manifested at some levels of the State apparatus and, in some countries, in political parties
too. The activities of the latter can result in a significant increase in the presence of women,
in both popularly elected and Government-appointed positions. Nonetheless, the goal of
parity of representation is nowhere near being met in any part of the executive or legislature.
Only in the judiciary can some exceptions be found in the supreme courts of justice of the
Caribbean countries.
Unquestionably, the international agenda, and the events and agreements it has spawned,
have contributed substantially to the creation of political will among Governments and
other institutional actors. Important instances of this are the creation of national mechanisms
for the advancement of women and the new status of gender and, even more fundamentally,
of women as a priority group for public policies.
100
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
To some extent, the institutional reforms that have been undertaken at State level in the
different countries, and the political reforms associated with efforts to democratize or
improve democracy, have opened up a varied range of opportunities for women. In these
processes women have become part of the new national and international institutions, and
have influenced their orientation. They have also been involved in proposing and passing
laws and regulations to further their cause, introducing new changes from their own
institutional base.
In the social sphere (unions and professional and employers’ organizations from which
information could be obtained), although there is perceptibly greater female participation
in the governing bodies of union confederations in some countries, women are still poorly
represented in relation to their numbers in the membership. In professional organizations
the presence of women does not correspond to the percentage of the membership they
account for either, but their participation is higher where gender segmentation is a factor,
i.e. “traditionally female” professions have a large number of women on their governing
bodies. By contrast, the figures for employers’ organizations provide a dramatic illustration
of the lack of female representation in the economic power that now dominates market
economies.
The scantiness of the information available makes it difficult to give an account of what
is happening at present with women’s organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Only very partial information can be given about the strength and dynamism of these
organizations. This is unacceptable, as it is the women’s movement itself that has participated
in and promoted the international agenda for equity between the genders and in opposition to
discrimination against women. The information that exists is fragmentary and discontinuous,
and does not reflect the work they have put into bringing about this change.
3. THE CHALLENGES RAISED
The greater depth of social participation and the search for parity of leadership between
women and men in our countries have raised new challenges and renewed old ones. These
are found at different levels and have to be addressed by different actors.
101
As has already been pointed out, the lack of parity and balance in the way decisionmaking is shared between women and men reveals an inequality of power in both the
private and public spheres, which are mutually reinforcing. To resolve this, it is not enough
to wait for the changes introduced in general policies to take effect. These need to be
accompanied by specific policies that increase the capabilities and opportunities of women
in a way that incorporates this concept of balance between the genders.
Governments need to act more determinedly to:
a) strengthen institutional mechanisms that advance parity and promote the participation
of women;
b) create forums where real dialogue can take place – and decisions be made – about
public policy planning with civil society and its representatives;
c) spend a consistently higher percentage of funding on public policies that have a
gender aspect or are aimed at women;
d) develop consistent public policies aiming at gender equity;
e) work on an intersectoral basis for gender equity and mount campaigns to eliminate
discriminatory practices against women within the State and in society as a whole.
To overcome the difficulties that women face, it will be necessary to remove the obstacles
that hinder participation and to create conditions that facilitate it. To achieve this, what is
needed is a State that is able to develop cooperative, less vertical policies that give citizenship
a greater role, i.e. that make people more aware of their right to have rights. This change
can only be brought about through concerted action by social and political actors and
economic and cultural agents. Governmental mechanisms for the advancement of women
need to develop programmes that treat women as citizens entitled to rights and not just as
a vulnerable group or as beneficiaries.
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PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
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ANNEX
LIST OF INDICATORS RELATING TO
POWER AND GENDER EQUITY
INDICATORS
AVAILABILITY
OF INDICATORS
Citizenship
Year women obtained the vote
g
Participation by women in elections: voting by
women (blank, invalid and valid votes) as
a proportion of all votes. Latest national,
parliamentary and municipal elections
n
Participation in the executive
First woman to become a minister or secretary
of state, by year and portfolio
g
Women Presidents of the Republic or equivalent
g
Women Vice-Presidents of the republic or
equivalent as a proportion of the total
g
110
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Women Ministers, Secretaries of State or
equivalent as a proportion of the total
g
Women Deputy Ministers, Under-Secretaries
or equivalent as a proportion of the total
g
Women Governors in states, provinces or
departments (federal countries, non-federal
countries) as a proportion of the total
c
Women in local government (municipalities
or equivalent) as a proportion of the total
g
Women in official diplomatic positions as a
proportion of the total
c
Women in the civil service, by service and
category, as a proportion of the total
c
Women in the armed forces, by branch
and category, as a proportion of the total
c
Governmental mechanisms for the
advancement of women
Year of ratification of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (1979)
g
National governmental bodies for the
advancement of women
g
Provincial or state mechanisms for the
advancement of women (in federal countries)
out of the total number of states or provinces
c
Equal opportunities plans for women or
equivalent, currently in force
g
Programmes for women in ministries or
departments of State
c
111
Municipal offices for women out of the total
number of municipalities
c
Mechanisms to follow up the Beijing agreements
c
Budget of the national body as a proportion
of the total budget
n
Budget of the national body as a
proportion of GDP
n
Participation in the legislature
Women in bicameral national parliaments as
a proportion of the total (incumbents
and deputies)
g
Women in unicameral national parliaments
as a proportion of the total (incumbents
and deputies)
g
Women in state or provincial parliaments
(in federal countries) as a proportion of the
total (incumbents and deputies)
c
Parliamentary commissions whose remit
includes legislation relating to women
g
Women speakers of national parliaments
c
Women chairing parliamentary commissions
at the national level as a proportion of the total
c
Women speakers of state or provincial
parliaments
c
Women chairing parliamentary commissions
at the state or provincial level as a proportion
of the total
c
Quota laws for elections to representative
positions (parliamentary and municipal)
g
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PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Participation in the judiciary
Women in the national supreme court of justice
as a proportion of the total
g
Existence of attorney general’s offices, public
prosecutor’s offices or ombudsmen that deal
specifically with crimes against women. Name
and year of creation
c
Participation in political parties
Women on the national governing bodies
of political parties as a proportion of the total
c
Women members of political parties as a
proportion of the total
c
Parties with internal quota regulations for women
c
Participation in workers’ unions and union
confederations
Women on the governing bodies of national
union confederations as a proportion of the total
c
Women on the governing bodies of urban
unions as a proportion of the total
n
Women members of urban unions as a
proportion of the total
n
Women on the governing bodies of rural
unions as a proportion of the total
n
Women members of rural unions as a
proportion of the total
n
113
Participation in cooperatives
Women on the governing bodies of cooperatives
as a proportion of the total
n
Women members of cooperatives as a
proportion of the total
n
Participation in professional associations
Women on the governing bodies of professional
associations as a proportion of the total
c
Women members of professional associations
as a proportion of the total
n
Participation in business or employers’
organizations
Women on the governing bodies of business
or employers’ organizations as a proportion
of the total
c
Women members of business or employers’
organizations as a proportion of the total
n
Participation in university students’
federations
Women leaders of university federations as a
proportion of the total
n
Participation in the organizations of
indigenous or ethnic groups
Women leaders as a proportion of the total
n
114
PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: GENDER INDICATORS
Social organizations, non-governmental
organizations and women’s networks
National, provincial and local women’s
organizations whose objective is the
advancement of women
n
Women’s social organizations, by type and
objective
n
Grass-roots women’s movements, by type
and objective
n
Non-governmental organizations whose
activities are directed at women, by type
and objective
n
Women’s networks and coordinating
organizations at the national, state/provincial
and local levels
c
Women’s refuges, by municipality
n
Centres providing information on women’s
rights, by municipality
n
Gender or women’s studies at universities
University courses on gender or women’s studies
n
Postgraduate courses on gender or
women’s studies
Notes:
g Indicator available
c Indicator with availability problems
n Critical indicator, with severe availability problems
c
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