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Women and Youth in Politics: Latin American Perspective

On October 14–18, 2017, the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is holding in St. Petersburg. As it is known, this annual forum provides a wide exchange of national experiences and best practices of legislative bodies in a plethora of thematic areas, but women’s and youth issues have already become traditional in this respect.

The Latin American delegates, who highly appreciated Russian hospitality and opportunities to talk about the specifics of the parliamentary work of their countries and receive an excellent feedback, presented some especially interesting subjects at the Forums of women parliamentarians and young parliamentarians.

Thus, the First Vice-Speaker of the National Assembly of Nicaragua, Maritza Espinales, noted that the Parliament of Nicaragua is a gender-sensitive one, both from a formal point of view and in terms of its social and legal development agenda. In particular, there are currently 12 women serving as chairpersons of the parliamentary committees and commissions, and this is more than the number of men on similar positions. Moreover, the Nicaraguan legislation, starting from the Constitution, is formed in such a way as to protect women from discrimination in all spheres of social life – from the family (in the country there is a special Family Code that fixes the equality of the sexes) to the labour market. M. Espinales attributed the progress achieved in ensuring the non-discrimination of women to the merits of the left-wing government of D. Ortega.

Regarding to the issues of the participation in politics of young people, the positions of the delegations of the Andean countries – Chile and Peru – to our mind, deserve special attention.

Despite the fact that modern Chile is famous for having one of the most balanced social policies in the region, the delegate from this country noted the unsatisfactory state of social elevators that could allow young people to realize themselves in politics. The Chilean speaker at the Forum of Young Parliamentarians explained that there are many potential young deputies and senators (up to 35 years old) in his country – active and intelligent people, but very few of them can enter the politics because of the practice of “re-election” of the “old” congressmen – those who once achieved a seat the National Congress, and having become already experts in the inter-and intra-party struggle do not want to leave the legislators’ posts.

The representative of Peru, about one fourth of the population of which are people between 16 and 29 years old, spoke about another problem – the absence of special institutions that can strategically coordinate the policy to promote parliamentary and other political participation of young people. Thus, it was noted that Peru lacks a Ministry for Youth and Sports as such institutions do work successfully in a number of countries in the region.

Looking at the given examples, it is easy to notice that the Latin American guests confirmed the thesis that the state of gender and youth issues can give an understanding of the national political sphere as a whole, with its internal ideological guidelines, limits and the specifics of political participation, formulated by the 137th IPU Assembly receiving party .

Observing Latin American positions at the IPU fields is becoming more interesting today, as two Latin American “congress-women” – the Mexican Gabriela Cuevas Barron and Uruguayan Ivonne Passada – are applying for the post of the next chairperson of the organization. During the 137th IPU Assembly, both candidates presented their vision of the organization’s prospects and showed that the experience of parliamentary work in their states deserves much attention at the international level.

Prepared by Kseniya Konovalova.

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