Global Issues - 12/04/2011
|Argentina: Banking On Women's Experience|
|Inter Press Service
Argentina's president is a woman, Cristina Fernández, and the country has one of the highest percentages of women lawmakers in the world. But women also have other leadership roles, outside the political system.
Natalia Garabano, the coordinator of a research project that created a novel Experience Bank, told IPS that 'identifying and drawing attention to the valuable experiences of women who are leaders of their social organisations was one of the project's goals.'
In a recently published report on this research, 87 women leaders of civil society organisations share their experiences of working for the rights to housing, sexual and reproductive health, education, non-discrimination and non-violence.
Garabano, of the Latin American Justice and Gender Group (ELA), said: 'In order to legitimise democracy and make it more robust, it is necessary to promote women's political participation, but in a broad sense, not just through political parties.'
Wider participation is not achieved only by increasing access to political office, but also by boosting women's participation in civil society. This broader concept of participation led ELA to develop the LIDERA (Lead) project, which has three components.
First, there is the research project titled 'Mujeres participando en ámbitos locales. Banco de experiencias' (Women Participating in Local Communities: Experience Bank), consisting of in-depth interviews with women who are leaders of social organisations in six Argentine cities.
At the same time, a study was carried out on 'Sexo y poder' (Sex and Power), about women's participation in decision-making posts in different public spheres, which has not yet been published. The results were disappointing. Women occupy only 15 percent out of 13,627 decision-making posts in over 4,000 institutions, Garabano said.
The third cornerstone of the project was investigating the track records of women lawmakers at national and provincial levels, to find out more about them: how they came to be elected, what their educational background is, what proposals they are making, and how they manage to reconcile work and family responsibilities.
ELA presented the first component, the Experience Bank, in the lower chamber of Congress on Mar.31. 'Women's participation in the local sphere must be strengthened so that their leadership is built and grows on solid foundations and in contact with their social base,' Garabano said.
'Raising awareness about these 'ways of getting things done' may inspire action and strategies in different contexts, and spread knowledge about determining factors and ways of overcoming obstacles, making the most of opportunities and networking,' she said.
The organisations headed by women that were selected for this project were in the city of Buenos Aires itself, in the municipality of Morón, in the west of the metropolitan area, and in cities in the provinces.
The provincial cities were San Salvador de Jujuy, 1,800 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, 1,050 kilometres west of the capital, Neuquén, 1,156 kilometres to the southwest and Rosario, 300 kilometres to the northwest.