Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Guillermina Seri




women, politics, rights


The last 25 years have seen the rise of women as political leaders in Latin America. There are now three female presidents, including Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina), and Dilma Rousseff (Brazil). This sociopolitical progress owes its success to the consolidation of democratic institutions, a strong feminist movements such as Argentina’s “Movimiento Nacional de Mujeres” and a strong regional push towards egalitarian legislation. According to ECLAC there are a number of important feminist movements in the region that catalyze egalitarian legislative changes. #NIUNAMENOS is one of such campaigns promoting zero tolerance against gender violence and aims is to decrease femicides. The presence of women movements is essential to Latin America’s democracy. Nevertheless, the reality of the majority of women in the region is still precarious, and the gendered experience of inequality among women in Latin America is incongruent with the democratic governance structures they live with. Violence against women rose 50% in the last decade and the region is responsible for 50% of the femicides worldwide. Seven of the countries in the region have criminalized femicides and violence against women, yet women experiencing gender violence are usually discouraged to seek help. The common denominator between the two experiences just described is the prevalence of patriarchy, a “system of social structures” and “practices” in which men create an oppressive gender gap that is expressed in violent forms. In Latin America violent practices keep women in an inferior position in society and disempower them. Gruber and Szoltysek (2012) proposed important markers to measure the intensity of patriarchy in a society. These markers include levels of literacy, age of marriage, and death rates of women. To measure and analyze this data is crucial to understand the clear contrasts in the experience of different women in the region. The purpose of my thesis is to navigate the social relations amongst genders in Latin America to illustrate the experience of women in the labor force, the household, and society with regards to violence and civil and political rights. The chapters identify different patriarchal mechanisms that subject women in the region. They also evaluate the impact that patriarchy has as neutralizer that prevents an egalitarian experience for all women in Latin America. The experience of women in the labor market and in the household can be predicted by some of the markers of patriarchy proposed by Gruber and Szoltysek (2012). Illiteracy rates of women compared to men is 46.6%, and this significance gap creates a predisposition for more men than women to be suitable for the labor market. A study by UNICEF revealed that 29% of underage women get married in Latin America compared to 11% in Europe. The high illiteracy rates coupled with underage marriage increase the intensity of patriarchy in a society, and in the case of Latin America the indicators are significant enough illustrate how women are at a disadvantage compared to men early in their lives. This reality reinforces gendered violence because gender gaps justify the inferiority of females when compared to males. This is especially palpable in capitalist societies where the unpaid labor of women in the household (Silvia Federici) remains both invisible and ignored, an invisibility that devalues the worth of women. Furthermore, Latin America’s class structures place a significant parts of women at a disadvantage. In fact 53% of the poor in Latin America believe that their next generation will not enjoy from a prosperous social mobility (CEPAL Social Panorama 2014, 113). The social preconditions just outlined clearly condemn women to face discrimination and disadvantages in the workplace, the household, and individually. My thesis will expand on the assessment of markers of patriarchy in dominant social relations in Latin America. Identifying and assessing such markers allows to map patriarchy quantifiably and qualitatively to understand its influence on the sociopolitical experience of different groups of women. The topic is especially relevant because it brings forth a dichotomous reality of societies that have successfully democratized but that are still colonized by patriarchy, in such a way that there is a space for some women to become leaders while most remain oppressed. The drastic contrast of both experiences are unique to the region of Latin America, making this study an important observation of both social progress and the effects of patriarchy on that progress. The research is also relevant in a global perspective because progress made by women in Latin America can help women struggling for rights in other regions. Latin America is clearly exemplifies the positive outcomes of social progress, but it is also a portrayal of the negative effects of high levels of patriarchy. Taking all into consideration, the sociopolitical reality of women in Latin America will be analyzed through the lens of patriarchy as defined above. The study is structured as follows. Chapter 1 provides an overview of women’s reality in Latin America using data and statistics to contextualize current trends. In Chapter 2 I use an upto- date data set to perform a means difference and regression analysis to provide a novel and original investigation of women’s reality in Latin America. A means difference analysis reveals the averages between two main groups and indicates if the difference is statistically significant. Due to the fact that chapter 2 reveals a positive growth in women’s political rights in Latin America, chapter 3 will explore the reasons for this growth. Finally, chapter 4 will synthesize and conclude the study above, providing closing remarks.