Feminist Agendas and Democracy in Latin America

In This Review

Feminist Agendas and Democracy in Latin America
Edited by Jane S. Jaquette
Duke University Press, 2009
272 pp. $79.95
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Women's movements in Latin America have recently suffered a certain loss of momentum following their success in obtaining greater legal equality, enlarged political representation, and better social services. This welcome update on the current state of the feminist agenda in the region is full of strong contributions. Marcela Ríos Tobar skillfully describes the enduring contradictions of women's lives in the social democratic Chile of President Michelle Bachelet. Flávia Piovesan explains how Brazilian women leveraged the legitimacy of international institutions -- by successfully appealing to the Organization of American States -- to alter national laws and practices regarding violence within families. Well worth the price of admission is the brilliant concluding chapter, in which Jaquette champions professional women working within their democratic political systems -- to build bridges to government agencies, win legal redress through the courts, and provide life-sustaining social services. "Feminists must be committed to the institutional means, as well as the utopian ends, of social justice," Jaquette soberly declares.