The new president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, arrives at La Moneda with several fighting flags under his arm, but one of the greatest characteristics of his Administration will be his feminist stamp. He has declared it explicitly, as had never happened in Chile, although the South American country has been governed twice by a woman, Michelle Bachelet, in administrations in which there were important symbolic and political advances. The main innovation of Boric’s mandate, along with the generational change, have been the consecutive signs towards women in different fields, in a kind of hand in hand with the electorate that granted him a majority victory in the second round of December: the feminine. As he announced in January, 14 of his 24 portfolios begin in Chile to be led by female ministers. Boric, 36, decided in turn that the Ministry of Women would work not in a central building, but in the Palacio de La Moneda itself and that its minister, Antonia Orellana -the youngest in the Cabinet, at 32 years old-, will be part of the political committee for the first time. It is a powerful signal because it seeks, among other issues, to bring the gender agenda to the heart of power and ensure that equality between men and women becomes a goal for the entire public apparatus of the State.
“A feminist government expresses itself in a willingness to recognize the importance of collective action by women. Not wanting to co-opt the women’s movement, but recognizing it as an actor in all its diversity and dialogue. We have a commitment and seek to implement a gender and feminist approach in all public policies,” Orellana assured EL PAÍS a few days ago. Her diagnosis seems clear: “In Chile there is a deep contradiction: there is a discourse and a reach of women to high places of power that does not coincide with the conditions that most women live.”
Along with the nomination of a greater number of women than men in his government team, Boric gives important signs. For the first time, for example, this Friday a woman will lead the Ministry of the Interior with the doctor Izkia Siches. She will be responsible for the political coordination of the Government and public security in the country, which seems monumental given the two main emergencies that Chile is facing: the migration crisis in the north and the violence in Araucanía and surrounding regions. A second fundamental figure in his first ring of power will be Camila Vallejo, Boric’s traveling companion since the 2010 university mobilizations, who will become the spokesperson for the Government, a fundamental function. With his arrival at the political ministry, incidentally, the Communist Party returns to the front line of an Administration, as has not happened since the Popular Unity of Salvador Allende (1970-1973). Your team of guardians Orellana completes it from the Ministry of Women, with deep personal and political closeness to the president.
“The feminist government has been a very explicit and sustained statement over time by Boric and his teams. It has given signs that seem to go beyond what we had previously understood as governments with some commitments, usually parceled out, in terms of gender. Here, on the other hand, it seems that the feminist label is bringing together an idea that is much more transversal in the very conception that the Government has of its function and in how it would be projected on the political agenda and in practices,” says academic Yanira Zúñiga , expert in fundamental rights and gender. In reference to the consecutive signs –such as the arrival of Siches to the Interior, a ministry that the expert considers “masculised”–, she believes that “they reveal a new understanding that goes far beyond what we had had so much in the Chilean experience as a Latin American”, assures the researcher at the Austral University and author of . never again without usa book that Boric’s new Women’s Minister has on her nightstand these days.
There have been symbolic signs, such as the nomination of the first woman to serve as aide-de-camp to the Presidency. It is the lieutenant colonel of Carabineros, Cecilia Navarro Luke, whose mission will be to accompany the president in official ceremonies. But concrete and new events have been carried out for Chilean society. On the occasion of 8M, the new Government published an instruction in which it limited the appearance of male ministers during the day and called on them to avoid all kinds of protagonism. He recommended, in turn, not to grant interviews or congratulate their colleagues. The orders were followed with obedience, because the day was carried out by the women of the new Executive, who began the day with a press conference in the so-called small coinwhere Boric and his collaborators settled in January to organize the transfer.
“Being a feminist government means changing the way in which we relate to each other, in which we see the world that has been counted by men for too many centuries,” said Boric as president-elect when the Interministerial Meeting for Gender Policies was held. “So I ask you, particularly men, that we take it very seriously and that at the end of our government we can have collaborated with the cultural change that the feminist movement has pushed,” she said in relation to the feminist wave that became visible in 2018 and that, before the outbreak, was the spearhead of the changes in Chile.
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It is a phenomenon that the world watches closely. The Minister of Equality of Spain, Irene Montero, before embarking to Chile to participate in the change of command this Thursday, spoke with the podcast the daily coffee of the broad expectations generated in the rest of the world and especially in the left by the feminist stamp of his friend Boric.
For Diamela Eltit, a Chilean writer, “there are new signs in terms of government structures and not only because of the ministerial structure –President Bachelet nominated the Joint Cabinet that did not work due to internal tensions within her own coalition–, but also because the new scenario It has been generated by women and not only by a group of people who have installed the gender issue on the agenda”. For Eltit, FIL Prize for Literature 2021, what we are seeing is the consequence of a whole century in which Chilean women have mobilized. “It is a long task and nobody can think that the necessary balance will be achieved quickly, but what we witnessed in Chile is a very solid starting point.” To learn about these issues, already in the campaign, Boric received classes on feminism, with academics such as Luna Follegatti.
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