Written by Florencia Vergara, UPLA Women’s Network Coordinator, Chile
Since the first laws guaranteeing a minimum quota for women in Latin American elections were passed at the end of the 20th century, great progress has been seen in the levels of participation of women in politics. Although the occurrence of low involvement is not, nor was it, exclusive to Latin America, numerous studies continue to highlight the need to include more women in elected positions as a condition for governance. In other words, when we talk about the inclusion of women in politics, we are not referring to a mere claim for equality, but to the conditions that will improve the way our governments function.
However, beyond the progress made in this area, the democratic gap in participation remains, and numerous barriers to the effective inclusion of women have been identified. Among the obstacles identified by the literature and comparative studies, we want to draw attention to the incidence of violence against women in political life, or political violence against women (hereinafter “PVW”). This phenomenon has recently received the attention of the highest echelons of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the Organization of American States (OAS).
However, within the context of gender violence, PVW should not be confused with the concept of political violence, which continues to be of fundamental importance in the democratic transition of a region. While political violence refers to that perpetrated by actors, state or not, with the aim of influencing politics by non-democratic means (typically including the imprisonment or persecution of opponents, police brutality, genocide, terrorism, or assassination), PVW is a barrier to the exercise of women’s political rights.
To contribute to strengthening the participation of women in political action, together with working to end those actions that affect this inclusion, the Women’s Network of the Union of Latin American Parties (UPLA), with the support of the British Conservative Party and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, recently launched the manual “More Women, Better Politics: Strategies to improve the participation of women in political spheres,” a document in which tools are proposed to prevent and eradicate violence against women.
This document, which can be downloaded at www.uplatinoamerica.org, will make it possible to raise awareness, to train, and to sensitize the leadership and militancy of the UPLA parties and others.
Finally, the responsibility belongs to everyone — to those of us who are participating in politics today — but also to society as a whole, to overcome obstacles and ensure that we all live more freely and equally, respecting the rights and opportunities that politics and democracy provide, to continue supporting it and, with it, our values.