The Political Role of Women in Southeast Asia and Latin America

Evaluation of the social and political role of women in three Latin American countries and two South Asian countries.

This paper evaluates the political and social role of women in Argentina, Chile, Burma (Myanmar), and India, paying special attention to their role in social change, and in political resistance. Some time is also devoted to explaining the importance of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, and the work of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and Indira Gandhi in India. The paper shows how women in South Asia and Latin America suffer from a long history of institutionalized social, political, and religious sexism that often denies them an effective voice, however, the paper notes that their efforts are getting greater recognition in the world at large and in their home countries.
“Since the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the Americas, Catholicism has been the dominant state religion of the region. Latin American Catholicism has been a force of oppression at times, stripping the indigenous populations of their cultural identity by forced conversion; however, the presence of Christian clergy often helped mitigate the cruel treatment that Latin American indigenous peoples often suffered at the hands of the conquistadors and those who followed them. The cult of the Virgin Mary enjoys particular popularity among Latin American Catholics, a fact that is reflected in the importance of mother- and wife-hood in the social expectations of Latin American women (Enloe, 90). And although the responsibility of motherhood confers a great deal of respect in Latin America, it imposes serious restrictions upon women who would rather have chosen a different profession.”