Female President, impact and feminist movement-Elections in Latin America
Although Brazil has enjoyed democracy for only 25 years, the current cabinet features a record number of female ministers (10 making up 26% of the cabinet). This stands in contrast to 2008 when Brazil was among the countries of the world with the lowest proportion of women in public office. Elections are scheduled to take place in October 2014, how has the increase of women’s political participation impacted the country in the last few years? How has it influenced Brazil’s feminist movement?" How does it influence the feminist movement in other Latin American countries? How does a female president open doors for other women?
Women’s exclusion from institutional politics is part of a broader exclusion of them from the public space. Women, even those who work outside of the household, take care of the family, the domestic space and are in charge of “reproduction”, while men have the most important roles in society, especially those related to politics, religion and war. With time, however, this sexual division of labor is becoming less marked, thanks to the mobilization of women themselves
From 2008 to 2011, we took a leap forward because there was the political will to do so. In Chile, during Michelle Bachelet’s first term, her cabinet was gender balanced: 50% women, 50% men. Symbolically, this is very important. As President Dilma stated in her inauguration speech, this demonstrates to girls and young women that they can dream of occupying these posts. It also seems like this trend will continue with the two Brazilian candidates best positioned to win the presidencial seat in 2014 being women. One of them, Marina, a black woman.
In elected office, the situation is more complex. Brazil currently only has, in its Chamber of Deputies, 8.9% women and less than 12% in the Senate. This is the result of a whole structure that hinders women's participation in politics: there are obstacles when it comes to getting sponsorship and financial help for campaigning, party funds maldistribution and unequal advertising time on radio and television; low confidence in leaders and an accumulation of working hours. The consequence is that, among those elected, there is a majority of bourgeois white men, with some even coming from unrepresentative political bodies and who are most likely to win votes.
However, this year, there have been some significant changes: these are the first elections where the mandatory 30% quota for women has been reached for federal and state deputies. Indeed,elections to the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil are held using a list proportional representation system.Although asignificant change, it does not mean that we will have 30% of women elected. One thing is for women to stand as candidates, another is for them to be elected. In other words, we can have 30% female candidates and still have the same number of women elected to office.
The question, I believe, is that moving forward we need to go beyond the numerical debate. So far, the argument has been almost instinctive: If we represent 52% of the population, we can not represent only 10% of the elected to office.
The question we must ask ourselves is: which women representatives do we want? What is the profile of those women nominated by parties? What is the proportion of “ghost candidates” (-in order to fulfill the 30% quota requirement, parties find "ghost" candidates, women that even don’t know they are candidates).
This is where the feminist movement is most needed. It is not enough to just be a woman to pass and implement laws that favor womenas an oppressed group. Proposals such as the legalization of abortion, so dear to the feminist movement, are not part of the agenda of MPs linked to conservative or religious parties. It is therefore necessary, not only to vote for a woman, but to also vote for proposals and laws.
Last but not least, something quite interesting that was created this year is the Facebook page "Vote for a feminist". It lists all feminist candidates in Brazil.
Answer provided by our expert Maíra Kubík Mano