Georgina Waylen (Manchester) – Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first female president, was elected in 2006 with an explicit gender agenda, promising to appoint new faces (including women) and implement some positive gender change. After a period heading UN Women, she was subsequently reelected for a second term in 2013 with a decisive majority.
This paper focuses on Bachelet’s efforts to introduce progressive measures and the constraints that she has faced in a context where both formal and informal political institutions could act as barriers to change. It will provide a gendered analysis of both Bachelet’s first period in government together with her campaign for re-election in 2013 and the first 100 days of her second presidency in which the reform agenda for her second term was introduced.
This will allow a systematic reassessment of both the achievements and challenges of her first term as well as an analysis of the major challenges that she will face her during her second term. The paper also places the two presidencies of Michelle Bachelet within two broader academic debates relevant to the study of Chile’s first female president. First it situates Bachelet’s presidency within the wider scholarship about gender and executive office both in analytical and empirical terms. Second, the paper locates Bachelet’s presidencies within the wider debates about reform and institutional change and particularly efforts to realize gender equality goals.
Georgina Waylen is a Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester. She has researched and published widely on various aspects of gender and politics. Her books include Gender in Third World Politics (Lynn Rienner 1996) and Engendering Transitions: Women’s Mobilization, Institutions and Gender Outcomes (OUP 2007) which was awarded the APSA Victoria Schuck Prize. Between 2012-2017 she is leading a 5 year European Research Council funded project entitled ‘Understanding Institutional Change: A gender perspective’ (www.manchester.ac.uk/uic).
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