When Dilma Rousseff was elected to become the President of Brazil earlier this week, Latin America's most populated and wealthy nation confirmed a powerful regional trend. As Fox New Latino reports, South American countries have been bucking machismo stereotypes and embracing female chiefs of state.
Rousseff joins current president of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla in top leadership positions. Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet just stepped down, constitutionally able to serve only one four-year term, though there are whispers she may run again in 2014.
When Bachelet came into power, she appointed exactly half of the cabinet positions to women. Although she was ridiculed at first, she is now widely credited with breaking down barriers for women in South American society at large. Laws across Latin America support this embrace of gender equality in politics. In 1991, Argentina was the first country to institute gender quota laws stating that every third name offered on a party ballot must be a woman. “The idea there also was self perpetuating,” Merike Blofield, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami explained to Fox New Latino. “Once you have more women in power, more women will ascend to power.”
The rise of female leaders has made waves in the day-to-day lives of many Latin Americans. “Women have become much more active in civic organizations, politics and even making it to the highest office,” concluded Blofield.