Argentina and Chile: Politics and Fronteras in Geographies of Gender and Nation

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Weathers, Gwyndolyn Jo
Korzeniewicz, Roberto P
Over the course of the twentieth century, women in Argentina and Chile have organized in political, economic, and social arenas. In the 1980s and 1990s, sectors of the women's movement in both countries were interested in constructing agencies for women within the state, and they pushed for and achieved the establishment of the National Council on Women (Consejo Nacional de la Mujer) in Argentina, and the National Women's Service (Servicio Nacional de la Mujer) in Chile. In the mid-1990s, both agencies constructed plans designed to promote women's equality, increase inter-ministerial attention to gender, and enable more vertical ties with civil society organizations, including NGOs. The results have been mixed. The Argentine plan resulted in international funds reaching the provinces to do work "with a gender perspective," and despite the difficulties encountered because of Argentina's crisis in the early 2000s, gender-sensitive programs have been put in place at the local level, although on a very small scale. However, the civil society organizations that are involved are not necessarily those with ties to the women's movement. In Chile, the plan has resulted in increased inter-ministerial cooperation, but civil society is largely out of the loop, even when the agency openly depends upon the perception of receptivity to civil society for its own legitimacy. In the context of these relations, and the contrasts that they present, I contend that civil society-governmental relations are shifting, primarily because both women's NGOs and women's agencies in the state must re-situate themselves vis-à-vis newly emergent actors in civil society, as well as continuing negotiations for state power in a globalized economy.