30 Years of Democracy: Riding the Wave? Women's Political Participation in Latin America

This publication is only available in electronic format
29 February 2008
978-91-85724-38-3 (Print)
Beatriz Llanos, Kristen Sample
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This report America examines the progress made in women’s participation at all levels of public and party decision-making in the three decades since the start of the third wave of democratization in Latin America, drawing on data from 18 countries in the region.

The report finds that, although the number of women in politics has improved overall, real progress is highly uneven and limited to only some countries. Indeed, even within these countries progress is largely confined to only some elected offices.

The study goes beyond the numbers, analysing why some countries have been able to advance further than others and identifying some of the continuing obstacles encountered by women. It presents a series of recommendations for improving the situation of women in public life in Latin America



Executive Summary

Background: women’s suffrage and the slow move beyond the domestic sphere

Executive power and the feminization of politics

Elected office: fighting for inclusion and awaiting equality

Electoral quotas: adoption, impacts and limitations in their implementation

Challenges for women’s representation beyond quotas

A pending challenge: from inclusion to representation

Conclusions and recommendations



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Image credit: International IDEA

Image credit: International IDEA 

Press Release

A collection of speakers from past events.

Top row from left to right: Patricia Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; Anne-Marie Goetz, Professor of Global Affair at the New York University; Maria Bassols, Deputy Permanent Representative for the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations; Malene Almeida, Coordinator at Praia City Group on Governance Statistics; Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor at International IDEA. 

Middle Row from left to right:  Annika Silva-Leander, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA; Keboitse Machangana, Former Director of Global Programme at International IDEA; Annika Savill, Executive Head for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); Njeri Kabeberi, Chair of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers; Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. 

Bottom row from left to right: Pippa Norris, Lecturer and Political Science at Harvard University; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Maria Leissner, Ambassador at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Riika Laatu, Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.