Women in South America: Pursuing a Career in Politics

 (Elena Faddoul | April 22nd, 2023)

| Change the Nation | Promote Equality | Inspire Passion

Women in politics from all over the world have influenced the way we act and think, changing the way politics and the law are enacted. Yet, there are every few of these revolutionary individuals in South America. (Photo Courtesy of Public Domain)


Centuries have passed since women gained the right to work, vote, run for office, and while in many places they have revolutionized politics, many regions of the world, like South America, await a similar change.


Eight years ago, Latin America was home to a third of the world’s female presidents, making history in terms of women in politics. Yet, as time passed, this revolutionary movement died down; now having zero women representing their nations in high levels of power. But that doesn’t mean the region hasn’t made progress in advancing women’s roles in the political sphere. In fact, following the inauguration of Colombia’s new administration in 2019, there are more female vice president’s regionally than ever before. 


Latin America is also moving ahead inbalancing the male-to-female ratio in legislative branches. The Inter-Parliamentary Union registered that 28.9 percent of all congressional seats in the region were occupied by women, an increase of 3.7 percent since January 2014, and 5.1 percent above today’s global average. 


While studies show that at least 60 percent of women in South America get a degree of some sort and pursue a career after high school, of those women, less than 20 percent choose a career related to law or politics. With this data it seems only a minority group of women feel comfortable representing their state and country and expressing their opinions. 


Estefania Nuñes is a student at a university in Ecuador,  a degree in law and wishes to  work in law and maybe one day represent her country in office. When asked about what it is like to search for this type of higher education, she said: 


“Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to do something big and patriotic for my country, but was always told this is masculine and that I would never be successful in this career path.  By the time I got to high school, it was clear that I wanted something in this field, but was still made fun of, as women can only be seen as mothers and housekeepers, rather than advocates for change.”


Nuñes’ story, while discouraging, is not uncommon for women in South America. Many are seen as property and told to handle domestic responsibilities rather than work and create a life for themselves and their families.


So, if we live in a developed world, why are women afraid to follow their dreams? How can countries continue to enforce gender roles? 


Well, in underrepresented countries this is the norm. To them, women belong in the kitchen and men in the labor force. 


And while we can’t entirely fix this problem, countries should strongly encourage young generations to follow their desires and pursue whatever course of study they wish to have. If more women were to follow their dreams, they could revolutionize the world even more than they already have.