Reforming Macho Politics
Latin America’s democracies range from those that are models for the world – Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay – to those like Guatemala, Haiti, and Venezuela that are so weak that calling them democracies is dubious. The democracies in this region face a myriad of hazards, but one crucial challenge could be solved relatively easily: the gross under-representation of women in their legislative bodies.
Despite some prominent women at the top of Latin American politics, the general absence of women from the region’s political life causes a serious democratic deficit. The low representation of women in legislatures is not only a symbol of flaws in the functioning of Latin American democracies; it also means that women legislators are unable to bring their intrinsically different approaches to policy into play.
Only the Argentine Senate has a composition that is more than 40% female, while the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly and Argentine Chamber of Deputies are the only legislatures above the 30% bar. In nine legislative bodies in the region, women account for 10% or less of the members.