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Within the Latin American region, Peru comes out as an example of the progress in women’s representation in parliament, even if the gains have come only recently and remain fragile. As one of the dozen Latin American countries who have so far adopted quota legislation for elections at the national legislature, Peru offers an interesting case for exploring the political dynamics which can lead to such measures, the impact that Congresswomen have once elected, as well as practical lessons deriving from the experience of two elections where quotas have been used at the level of the legislature. Moreover, the deterioration of its democratic regime at the same time that women were entering the realm of electoral politics in greater numbers presents an interesting paradox. A republic with a unitary state structure like the majority of Latin American countries, Peru has a presidential regime with a unicameral proportional representation electoral system with a preferential vote based on closed-lists for the members of the national Congress. Its political party system has been radically renewed since the early 1990s, with the demise of the democratic Left and the incapacity of traditional parties to retain public support in light of the multiple crises faced by Peruvian society at the time. Since the election of the political outsider Alberto Fujimori in 1990, the proliferation of political ‘movements’ - rather than parties in the strict sense of the term - has been the norm. Some of the older parties managed to survive, but the new political panorama was made only more difficult by the fact that the decade-long regime of President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) was characterized by a centralization of power in the hands of the executive and increasing control over the judiciary and the electoral authorities. The greater presence of women in electoral politics is connected to a broader trend of women’s participation in the political sphere, which can be traced back to the 1980s but has much more forcefully materialized in the second half of the 1990s. Peruvian women decided to enter the realm of institutional politics in greater numbers in a period when the regime in place - that of Fujimori - was neither democratic nor purely authoritarian, which is why analysing their experience generates interesting questions on the relationship between democracy and women’s parliamentary representation. This new political protagonism corresponded to a strategy of relatively powerful women’s organizations in civil society to invest in the formal political terrain. It was also facilitated by the fact that the Fujimori regime was willing to build a political constituency among women and be seen as a modern leader promoting women’s participation. As a result of the social-structural changes of the preceding decades, a greater availability of well-educated, professional women looking for leadership positions only made it more feasible, especially in a context where women had gained a positive reputation as social leaders taking care of their communities. The claim of this chapter is that Peruvian women have been able to gain greater access to electoral politics and parliamentary representation because of a coincidence of interests between the women’s movement and the government of Fujimori, in the context of a very limited democratic regime with strong authoritarian features (Levitsky and Way, 2002). A second point which will be made is that even a modest number of women in parliament can have positive repercussions on the advancement of women’s rights when there is a balance of forces in civil society and within the State that allow for such progress to be made. Peruvian political culture has made significant leaps in less than a decade in how it portrays and values women’s political contribution, which also plays a significant part in the story. The main features of the contemporary Peruvian political process, particularly Alberto Fujimori’s regime in the last decade, will first be summarized to present the framework in which women’s entry into institutional politics and the strategies they have put forward have unfolded. A summary of Peruvian women’s history of political participation will follow and the main facilitating factors and obstacles to greater gender equality in parliamentary representation will be presented. This will allow for an explanation of the dynamics behind women’s use of political channels and institutions to further their agenda of legislative reforms in favour of women’s rights. Some discussion of the Fujimori regime’s interest in promoting women’s access to the public sphere will be made. Finally, there will be an assessment of the space taken by women in Congress, with examples of some of their legislative victories, to conclude on the paradoxes of women’s advances in the troubled political panorama of the 1990s in Peru.

Idioma originalInglés
Título de la publicación alojadaSharing Power
Subtítulo de la publicación alojadaWomen, Parliament, Democracy
EditorialTaylor and Francis
Número de páginas16
ISBN (versión digital)9781351900478
ISBN (versión impresa)9780754640899
EstadoPublicada - 1 ene. 2017
Publicado de forma externa


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