Tuesday, November 30

Parity is the first step towards real equality in Chile | International

Several women go to a polling station on May 15, in Santiago (Chile).
Several women go to a polling station on May 15, in Santiago (Chile).Elvis González / EFE

The approval of a joint Constitutional Convention is a key political innovation in post-transitional Chile. It is so because so far in the world no constitutional change has taken place through a joint deliberative body, and because the struggles for political equality for women in Chile have been intense, but with elusive and slow results. According to the 2017 Census, 51.6% of the country’s population are women. Nevertheless, in 2018 women represented only 26% of political power, 9% of economic power, 24% of symbolic power, and 27% of social power. The first quota law in Chile had been approved in 2015, during Michelle Bachelet’s second term. This allowed the representation of women in Congress to go from 13% in 2009 to 23% in 2018.

This long road, which has undoubtedly been more winding and difficult than the democratization process itself in Chile, opens with parity a conjuncture of inclusion that can mean not only equal representation in the Constitutional Convention, but can also change the political agenda in in favor of women’s rights and non-discrimination, and incidentally, to deepen political and social democracy in our country.

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Does a greater representation of women imply a substantive change in the public agenda regarding women’s rights, equality and non-discrimination? This question motivated the research we carried out together with Lucía Miranda and Carolina Meza at the New Constitution Observatory. We analyze the profiles of the candidacies and their programmatic proposals, and we differentiate the pro-woman and feminist proposals, to identify which of them predominate at the time of initiating the constitutional debate.

The difference between these types of demands (pro-woman versus feminist) is reflected in the distinction made by Maxine Molyneux between practical interests and strategic interests. Practical interests stem from the concrete conditions of women and their position in the sexual division of labor. They are formulated by women who are themselves positioned in a subordinate way as a response to a perceived need, but do not necessarily advocate for equality or autonomy from their male peers. While the strategic interests are derived in the first instance from the analysis of the subordination of women and the reformulation of an alternative and more satisfactory implementation of agreements of those that exist to overcome said subordination.

When analyzing the candidacies, we observed that the average number of candidacies at the national level that supported feminist or pro-women proposals was 63%. Some of the feminist proposals imply a requirement that the postnatal period be shared between the father and the mother (for the same period of time), a guarantee of equal pay for the same type of work (whether carried out by a man or a woman), or parity in all types of positions at the public or private level. Proposals promujer, for their part, made reference above all to the application of affirmative actions (such as quotas) so that women progressively equated their incorporation into decision-making positions in relation to their male peers.

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By analyzing the proposals of the 155 elected constituents, considering the criteria of autonomy of women in their three dimensions (decision-making, economic and physical), we identify feminist and pro-woman demands. Among the three types of autonomies, the proposals related to autonomy in decision-making were the ones that arose most frequently; in fact 56.8% of the constituents support them. While the proposals for physical autonomy are supported by 49.7% and the proposals for economic autonomy only reach 28.4%.

In an initial scenario of the constitutional debate, based on the proposals, we observe that in general the constituents prioritize the political rights of women over economic rights and physical rights in sexual and reproductive matters over protection and / or elimination. of gender violence. In addition, women constituents are the ones who support the autonomies of women in the greatest proportion.

A joint Constitutional Convention is only the first step in a substantive change for women in Chile. The agreements must be broad, and the rule to approve each one of the constitutional contents is 2/3 of the conventional ones in exercise. If we want to advance in real equality and non-discrimination of women, it is also important that the new Constitution effectively incorporates a gender perspective and an equal look at women’s rights. That is the path we are traveling.

Pamela figueroa has a doctorate in Political and Social Studies (IDEA-USACH) and a member of the Technical Board of the constituent process in Chile (2019).

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