The Role of Women in Peruvian Politics: Challenges and Opportunities
By: Ruth Hermitaño, Virginia Lopez, Valeria Díaz y Franco Arteaga
It has been 67 years since the first electoral process with the participation of women took place in our country and 19 years since a woman first occupied a political position, such as the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in Peru and in Latin America. In recent years, there has been low public visibility of women in political positions, due to the lack of interest of the media and of the political groups themselves for not granting them spaces and equal possibilities as men. So, what is the real political participation of women in Peru? (PUCP, 2021).
In our country, a crucial space for political participation is constituted by political organizations, which are formed for a specific electoral process. According to the Integral Quota Law of 2006, these political parties should have a minimum of 30% female participation in political organizations. However, despite the integration of women in political participation and holding distinctive positions representing our country, citizens still have certain prejudices and preconceived ideas about entrusting such jobs to women in favor of the development of our country (PUCP, 2021).
Problematic towards the feminine vote
In the 2021 general elections, women in the Congress of the Republic represented 40% of the total, reaching the highest figure in Peruvian history. Likewise, female vice-presidential candidates increased from 30% to 87% compared to previous elections; however, only two political groups were headed by women (Defensoría del Pueblo, 2021).
In the 2021 general elections, women in the Congress of the Republic represented 40% of the total, reaching the highest figure in Peruvian history.
Although the greater prevalence of women in politics is related to the incorporation of the law of parity and alternation into Peruvian legislation, which obliges political parties to present lists of candidates made up of an equal number of women and men, located interspersed throughout the party list, why are women relegated, mostly to the vice presidency? Why is it that only two groups have decided that a woman represents them as a candidate for the presidency?
As a hypothesis, Neyra (2021) pointed out the series of prejudices about the role of women, which link them to care or assistance work, while their male counterparts are closer to leadership. This affirmation reflects that women hold less than 30% of managerial positions within political parties, although they represent almost half of these groups. Likewise, political harassment is added as another form of violence against women, a prevailing phenomenon in Peruvian society.
As a hypothesis, Neyra (2021) pointed out the series of prejudices about the role of women, which link them to care or assistance work, while their male counterparts are closer to leadership. This affirmation reflects that women hold less than 30% of managerial positions within political parties, although they represent almost half of these groups.
Women participation in national and international politics
Unfortunately, the numbers are not encouraging when analyzing the political picture in regards to gender equality. Data provided by UN Women, showed that nowadays only 22 women held the position of Head of Government or State (2021); namely, approximately 6% of the higher decision positions in the world are in charge of women.
On the other hand, according to the Women in Politics Map elaborated in 2020, 50% or more ministerial cabinets are conformed by women in 14 countries. The growth of female representation in these positions has increased 0.52% over 2019. The ministerial portfolios in which women are responsible use to be the ones related to social affairs, family and environment.
About parliamentary seats, in accordance with data of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, at the end of 2021, 26% of these were in charge of women. The countries with the highest percentage of women parliamentarians were: Rwanda, Cuba, Nicaragua Mexico and United Arab Emirates. The common characteristic between these countries is that they have implemented gender parity laws, that, according to Susan Franceschet, director of Political Science at the University of Calgary, are necessary because “there's decades of evidence that unless they have to do it, parties will not choose women candidates or not the number of women that we would like” (BBC, 2018).
Progress made in Peruvian society
Various initiatives by peruvian government have been developed with the purpose of promoting and encouraging the participation of women in Peruvian politics. In 2020, the Law No. 310230 was enacted, which modifies the various regulations concerning electoral legislation that guarantee gender parity and alternation in the lists of candidates for the different election process (Diario El Peruano, 2022).
The actions that have been taken, based fundamentally on the aforementioned measure are mainly focused on organizing conversations and discussion panels, where they seek to share high-impact experiences that motivate women to be part of the national political sphere, as well as explain about the main actors that play an important role in generating this environment of opportunities. A tangible example of this effort is the discussion "Woman's Word: The conquest of public space by women", organized by the Constitutional Court in 2020 (Ministerio de la Mujer y Poblaciones Vulnerables, 2020).
As far as civil organizations are concerned, the project "WOMEN'S CITY: Gender equality and empowerment of women in Metropolitan Lima" is being carried out in the city of Lima, with the general objective of "increasing the participation of women in decision-making decision-making and political and citizen participation” (DESCO, 2018), all this through training in soft skills, talks on good practices in gender equality and women's empowerment, together with the presentation of a Women's Political Agenda; prepared along with government organizations, social groups and associations that seek to promote this initiative. (DESCO, 2021).
This measure represents a great advance in terms of providing women with greater opportunities for participation and development in the Peruvian national political environment.
Criticism and perspective
There are modified laws and projects related to gender equality; nevertheless, it is necessary to carry out a greater diffusion of this type of activities in order to make more people aware of the matter, through organizations with greater prominence at the national level.
In recent years, the parity law has increased female participation in Peruvian and international politics, for instance, women who reached the Congress of the Republic represented 40% of the total; however, still this percentage is little, and if this percentage increases in women in political positions, it could mean a substantive change in Peruvian development.
On the eve of the municipal and regional elections Peru 2022, many women with extensive knowledge and management capacity in the public sector will not consider running for public office, due to the obstacles that could be found simply by being a woman. How many talents are being lost due to this social stereotype?
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