Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies

Is the Law our Friend? Gender and Policy Forum Showcases Perspectives from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia

April 11, 2022

On Friday, April 8, a group of scholars and policymakers came together for the third session of the Spring 2022 Gender and Policy Forum. The session, titled “Achieving Equality through Law and Advocacy,” took place on Zoom and was livestreamed to an audience of students and researchers from across the Americas. Speaking in Spanish, English, and Portuguese with the help of live interpretation, the panelists had a lively conversation about the challenges and opportunities that various juridical approaches, public policies, and programs present for gender equality.

Agustina Ordoñez, who is a Fox International Fellow at Yale, started the session by expressing gratitude to LAIGN, CLAIS, and the interpreters for working to make this series possible. As Ordoñez explained, the Gender and Policy Forum has three main goals: fostering an exchange of ideas about gender between researchers and policymakers; creating a professional network of people dedicated to gender justice; and promoting leadership strategies for feminist professionals in research and policy.

Ordoñez then introduced the session’s moderator Gisela Zaremberg, who is a member of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Mexico. Professor Zaremberg, whose own work focuses on the role of gender in political institutions, emphasized the interactive nature of the session and invited attendees to submit questions for the panelists.

Next, Zaremberg introduced the session’s speakers, UNAM’s Karen Castillo and Rita Astrid Muciño Corro. Castillo presented on the unequal effects of economic policy on different sectors of society, emphasizing that such policies are not neutral and can reproduce inequality between men and women. In Castillo’s opinion, more equity-oriented programs like She Trades and Connectamericas are necessary to rectify women’s positions as secondary agents in Latin American commerce.

Muciño Corro continued this discussion of equal opportunity in her presentation about adolescent maternity. As Muciño Corro explains, teen pregnancies can affect women’s and girls’ access to education, jobs, and human rights. Honorable Minister Maria Claudia Bucchianeri Pinheiro of Brazil echoed this theme in her response, explaining that access to menstrual health products and support networks can give women greater reproductive agency and reduce discrimination in schools and employment.

Julia Peredo of Bolivia and Carla Carrizo of Argentina followed Honorable Minister Bucchianeri Pinheiro, offering reflections about the rights of women and girls in their respective countries. Although Bolivia and Brazil particularly struggle with low participation by women in the public sector, the policymakers emphasized that the region as a whole needs to continue to dedicate itself to combating gender inequality.

Finally, all of the speakers returned to the screen for a Q&A session. They went into further detail about the relationship between adolescent pregnancy and school dropout rates and closed the session with some final recommendations for gender-conscious programs and policies.

If you are interested in learning more about upcoming sessions of the Gender and Policy Forum, check out this website.

By Charlie Mayock-Bradley, Yale College ‘23