Women in Chile have just shown in a most emphatic way that they have been able to use their voting power to protect women’s interests and to ensure that politicians take account of them not only at election time but at all times.
The presidential election has just been won by a young left-wing candidate, Gabriel Boric and commentators are of the view that his victory is almost entirely due to the monumental efforts of a few young women. In the first round of the election, an extreme right-wing candidate Jose Antonio Kast took the lead. Chilean women, in particular, were shaken as he threatened to whittle away their recently won and hard-fought-for rights and to reduce them once again to second-class citizens in Chilean society.
Young Chilean women were galvanised and worked tirelessly throughout the country to mobilise voters. They achieved astounding success in having Boric elected. Alive to the significance of the moment, Boric has appointed a 14- women majority in his 24- person cabinet.
Over the past few years, the feminist movement in Chile has been a powerful force in realising the promulgation of law against sexual harassment as well as achieving gender parity in the Constitutional Convention. This kind of assertion of women’s rights is to be applauded and calls for more men and women to draw a line in the sand and say: “no more“. It is consistent with growing confidence amongst women globally. There is now an understanding that if women act collectively through movements like #MeToo and are supported by progressive men, significant and lasting beneficial change can be effected in many countries across the globe.
Australia is moving towards a federal election in 2022 and we, at Symmetra, think that it would be fitting when voters (men and women) consider for whom to vote that candidates who are likely to promote gender and racial equality get a foot-up. Standing up for diversity, equity and inclusion is a principle that every public representative can and should espouse. Voters should put them on notice that their words and actions in this area are relevant and significant.