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Chile Raises Hope for Gender Equality

The protests that took place in Chile two years ago started because of an increase in the metro subway ticket of 0.04 dollars, but there was much more. The riots and demonstrations demanded social equality and the resignation of President Piñera.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano

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Although Chile projected an apparent economic growth that many countries in the region admired, some ignored the vulnerability and poverty of several households in the country. The economic model, which included the privatization of the social security system, and health and public education, was to blame. Social unrest and discontent among citizens culminated in the demand for a new constitution to replace the one that dated back from Pinochet’s military rule. The deliberation process began on the 4th of July 2021, and for the first time in history, the constitutional assembly was gender-equal, included indigenous representatives, and was not dominated by the traditional parties.

However, the increased participation of women in the Constitutional Assembly is far from being the only accomplishment of a long battle for gender equality in Chile. The country with the lowest share of women in the working market and the lowest parliamentary representation of women today has achieved a majority of women as cabinet members. It is also worth mentioning that this is the first time Chile has a woman serving as Minister of Interior and Public Security (Izkia Siches), the highest position within the executive branch after the President. However, these changes did not happen automatically but were instead brought about by several rebellious acts of the citizens and by the feminist protests that took place in May 2018.

During the elections of May 2021, 77 women and 78 men were appointed as members of the constituent assembly. The high proportion of women that integrated the mentioned assembly resulted from a strong feminist movement, which was present in many areas of society, including in the media, academic spaces, and even in the streets. The feminist movement went from Argentina to Spain and through the United States of America, demanding the eradication of sexist behaviors from several environments as well as the protection of women against misogyny and sexual harassment.

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The gender perspective as a principle of the justice system has now been approved as one of the first articles by the constituent assembly to be presented by mid-term 2021 to citizens for approval. Other interesting initiatives that have been discussed include the recognition of domestic work and the creation of a National Care System. Until 2017, Chilean Law banned abortion in all circumstances, and in that same year,  the National Congress approved a law that permitted abortion in three specific cases (Law No. 21.030).

However, on the 10th of March 2022, the Constituent Assembly approved 14 articles proposed by the Commission of Human Rights, mentioning that every person has sexual and reproductive rights. This means that every person has the right to decide about their bodies, sexuality, reproduction, pleasure, and contraception. Another proposed article mentions that the Government must guarantee the exercise of reproductive and sexual rights without discrimination, as well as the access to information, health, education, and services to exercise these rights.

It is no secret that Chile is taking a step toward achieving gender parity. Even the former President, Sebastián Piñera, appointed the economist Rosanna Costa as the first woman president of the Central Bank.

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