A New Feminist Constitution for Chile

Feminists for the Approve option

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – Just weeks before the September 4th popular referendum to vote on Chile’s new Constitution, different opinion polls continue to predict what will happen on this day. However, it’s very hard to predict the results, because this time that voting is compulsory, which completely changes the political landscape, after several elections with voluntary voting.

One of these studies was the second national survey of women’s opinions and view of the constitutional process, carried out by the Nada Sin Nosotras platform, which groups together the Women’s Studies Center, Observatory of Gender and Equity and Human Bodies, which reveals what women think about the new Constitution (1).

Even though these results show that 56.4% of women think the new Constitution will improve women’s real situation – in terms of their right to social security, wage equality, recognition for domestic work, the right to care, parity in public institutions, sexual and reproductive rights and the right to live in a violence-free environment -, only 31% said that they will vote in favor, which reveals a huge breach in clarity of the information received.

Thus, the responsibility of mass media in Chile – which is riddled with private interests, preconceptions, and opposition to any change in the country. Such also reflects the poor informational work by the Constitutional Convention and Chilean public TV, such as TVN.

However, it’s too late to complain about this, so work going forward needs to focus on this 32% of women who still haven’t decided what they’ll vote for, despite the majority of them understanding the text will improve their lives. According to the report’s findings about the gender pay gap by the World Economic Forum, we are only in 47th place, with Chilean women receiving 30% less pay than men (2)

Therefore, it’s important to highlight concrete data during the campaign, exposing the brutal inequality between men and women, as well as the low presence of women in decision-making circles in public affairs (10.5% on boards, 17% in municipalities and 35.5% in Congress), as well as the men’s low contribution in the private sphere (38% dedicate 0 time to domestic chores, 57% dedicate 0 time to looking after their children and 71% dedicate 0 time to helping children with their homework).

In other words, we have to make it crystal clear that passing this new Constitution will be historic for women, not only because it’s the first in the world to be written in parity, but because it’s the first time in Chilean history, that the Constitution will be voted on and written by women, making it an unprecedented event.

It is also important to transmit pride in the fact that this new Carta Magna names women 13 times, unlike the current one in force, which only mentions women by name once; and that there are 35 gender-related laws in the document, which puts it at the vanguard globally, as on environmental issues too.

Consequently, it’s no small matter that it explicitly states, from the prologue, we men and women, stipulating the idea of an inclusive and parity democracy in Article 1, and that a gender focus be present in different social rights that currently exist (education, healthcare, housing and work), and also in new legal systems. 

In the specific case of education, the new Constitution will be decisive in the new national system, which will have the mission of establishing gender-neutral training, which doesn’t only dismantle existing gender stereotypes, which have hurt women throughout history, but also overthrow the hegemony of masculinity, which only creates men dominated by sexual competitiveness, productivity, economic success, control over others and a vertical hierarchy in human relations.

In other words, this new Constitution, if approved, will be a toolbox for the country to undo the patriarchy in Chile, not only in its many types ofa violence against women, but also in its violence against men themselves, paving the way for new masculinities.

Last but not least, this entire process wouldn’t have been possible without the great historic struggle of Chile’s feminist movement, which has pushed for building a different world for decades, just like it has across the world. September 4th could be the beginning of something great for all of us.

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