03/28/2013 11:59 am ET Updated Mar 28, 2013

Latin America's Left Turn: What's In It For Women?

Hugo Chávez knew that women were fundamental to his revolution. As he once famously said, “Only women have the passion and the love to make the revolution.” His legacy leaves a leadership void in Latin America’s new Left, yet other revolutionary leaders have also recognised the protagonistic roles women play in their anti-neoliberal agendas. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa (2007-present) has stated that the “revolution has a woman’s face.” Bolivian President Evo Morales’ (2006-present) state development policy includes language about how “decolonising” the state necessarily involves “depatriarchalising” it – ideas now incorporated into Bolivia’s 2009 constitution and public policies. Yet these leaders are also socially conservative and have tended to clash with second wave feminist demands, particularly concerning women’s reproductive rights. What to make of women’s rights, then, in Latin America’s shift to the Left?

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