In a country with a historically visible female presence in politics, it’s surprising that only 38 percent of the representatives in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies are female, and women make up 41.7 percent the Senate. While Argentina was among the first of many Latin American countries to pass a gender quota law, there is still some controversy surrounding women in power here.
Argentina’s quota law, enacted November 6, 1991, stipulates that at least 30 percent of the candidates running for each party must be female. Residents vote for a party with a closed candidate list.
More than 26 years later, there remains a strong female presence in Congress. Thousands of women have been elected under this law, yet some critics feel it has become more of a barrier instead of an aid to getting women into positions of power and policy making.
In 2016, Buenos Aires Province ruled that 50 percent of candidates on the ballot must be female with some parties outside of the Province following suite. Other parties in other areas of the country are technically satisfying the federal 30 percent requirement but have far less equal ballots, and doing the bare minimum is one of the reasons critics cite for Argentina continuing to fall among the international rankings of women in politics.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) data show that Argentina now ranks 16th, based on data from in 2016 after ranking 5th in 2008. This fall is a result of a comparable decrease of women in power.
While some are quick to cite this latest data as evidence that regional politics in this part of Latin America are swinging to the right (to the detriment of the representation of women), others would counter that train of thought by saying the solution lies beyond static quotas and additional policy.
Independent of the political perspective you go into the issue with, striving for a political system that accurately represents not just the will, but also the identity of the people it serves shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities.