Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chile versus Argentina, day two: gender equality

Not to keep ragging on Chile but all these studies keep coming out and I'm too intrigued to keep them to myself.

The latest one claims that Chile is one of the worst Latin American countries for gender equality, placing 64th out of the 134th countries surveyed. Here are some highlights from the article.

The study analyzed economic opportunities, education, political power and health care for women and ranked Ecuador 23rd, Argentina 24th, Peru 44th, Colombia 56th and Uruguay 57th – all considerably better than Chile.

“(Chilean society) continues to believe that the woman’s principle role is to be a mother,” said Mariana Fagalde, a psychologist from the Universidad Diego Portales.

Analysts say this kind of mentality leads women to eschew demanding jobs because of domestic responsibilities.

Chilean marriage law provides another gender barrier – it requires women to get their husband’s permission before applying for a credit loan.

Domestic violence also continues to be a serious concern and Chile was one of the last countries in the world to legalize divorce in 2005.

Ok, wait; women need their husband's permission to apply for a loan? Really?? Ours was an ill-fated relationship from the beginning, Chile.

Ironically, Chile has a fairly popular female president. . .


Emily said...

To clarify, there are three types of marital "regimes" under Chilean law. The oldest says that all of the woman's possessions belong to her husband, and in that situation she would have to get him involved in applying for a loan. The fact that that system is still an option does say something, but it's no longer the only option. There are two others, one where both people own everything (ie. the woman would need her husband's permission to sell their car, but the same is true vice versa) and one where there's no community property, each person has his or her own things based on who bought it. Everyone I know who's gotten married at all recently has chosen one of those two options.

Also, I don't think it's just Chile where women are expected to be mothers and tend to prioritize family/home over career path, especially in jobs that require a major time commitment.

Where are these studies coming from? I don't argue with some of their general conclusions - despite claim about marriage laws which is incorrect - but it would be interesting to see who's running them and who has paid for them since no study can be totally objective. I actually wrote a post about this several months ago, so clearly I agree Chile has a long way to go. Thanks!

ElizaBeth said...

Emily, the study on gender equality was done by the World Economic Forum, and the article from which I quote was published in the Santiago Times.

I absolutely agree with you that women in countries all over the world are still expected to be primarily mothers and housekeepers, but that wasn't my point. My point was, Chile scored worse in this category than many of its Latin American counterparts, most notably Argentina (since they are the two countries I most often compare).

That's interesting about the three types of marriage, thanks for sharing. I still won't be going back anytime soon but I'm glad that the women there are making some progress!

Anonymous said...

Well, at 64th out of 134, at least they are doing better than the majority of Latin American countries. (She says, in a feeble attempt to defend the indefensible.)

Do you have the references for these on hand? I'd be curious to see the studies.

ElizaBeth said...

Clare, right now the gender gap study is listed on the WEF's home page:

And, to close out my Chile/Argentina comparison week, I'd like to note that today Chile and Argentina's (both female!) presidents will sign a groundbreaking measure that will increase cooperation between the two countries. I guess they really do want us to all get along, so I'll do my best.