Reforming Macho Politics

Latin America's democracies face a myriad of hazards, but one crucial challenge could be solved relatively easily: the gross under-representation of women their legislative bodies. Quotas should be adopted that require that no more than half of parties’ legislative candidates in each district be of the same sex.

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.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now