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  • Author: Hugo Nopo
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Women's socioeconomic and political progress advanced dramatically across the globe in the last half of the twentieth century, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. Yet gender disparities remain high, and bridging those gaps has been a slow process. This is partly explained by negative stereotypes and misguided perceptions of gender roles—both still prevalent in Latin America. Such stereotypes not only distort many social interactions at home and in the workplace; they act as disincentives for girls to apply themselves in advanced study—particularly in mathematics. Just as significantly, they affect the overall labor supply. In both formal and informal labor markets, where Latin American families get 80 percent of their total income, gender gaps remain. Although the level of women's participation in the workforce has markedly increased over the past two decades across the region, three out of every five workers are male.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: Magda Hinojosa
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dilma Rousseff. Laura Chinchilla. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Michelle Bachelet. The political successes of these women should not divert our attention from the sizeable gender imbalance in politics that exists across the region. Slightly more than half of all Latin American citizens are female, but women occupy only one of every seven seats in legislatures—and only one of every 20 mayoral posts in the region. In fact, the existence of a presidenta appears to tell us little about how women fare politically in her country. Although Dilma Rouseff holds Brazil's highest office, only 8.8 percent of federal deputies in Brazil are women and only 14.3 percent of ministers are women. This is far behind the rest of the region. And despite Michelle Bachelet's success in Chile, women's representation in Chile's national legislature is below the regional average. [See Table 1] Women have made tremendous gains since the 1970s, when women's representation in Costa Rica's national assembly (at a mere 7 percent) was the highest in the region, and when five countries filled less than 1 percent of their legislative seats with women. The most striking changes in women's legislative representation have come since 2000—not coincidentally, after the majority of Latin American countries adopted gender quotas during the late 1990s.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, Chile
  • Author: Sital Kalantry
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For the first time in United States history, three of the nine justices sitting on the Supreme Court are women. About 33 percent of state and federal court judges in the U.S. are women, slightly higher than the global average of 27 percent. Why does this matter? Scores of empirical studies have attempted to determine whether the gender of a judge makes a difference to his or her decisions. But regardless of whether it does, equal representation for women in the judiciary strengthens the rule of law and should be a goal across the Americas. Increasingly, women in the region have overcome stiff challenges to becoming judges. Although the statistics for Latin American countries are slightly lower overall than in the U.S., they signal impressive progress. [See Table 1] For example, in 2010 18 percent of judges in Brazil's highest court were women, compared to 0 percent in 1998. In Peru, the figure was 23 percent in 2010 versus 6 percent in 1998.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Cedric Herring
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For many people, gender diversity is important because it removes barriers that have historically prevented women from taking their rightful places in the corridors of power. But there's also a specific business case to be made: including more women in the corporate setting will help meet customers' needs, enrich understanding of the pulse of the marketplace and improve the quality of products and services. The business case rests on what should be an obvious point: companies cannot effectively sell to women if they do not understand and value women, whether as customers or as employees. Therefore, increasing gender diversity in Latin American companies, especially in mass consumer-oriented sectors where women form large portions of the actual or potential customer base, will help boost their bottom line. In the United States, proponents of diversity commonly make the claim that diversity pays. The greater the diversity among employees, the broader their perspectives, resulting in an ability to marshal a wider array of intellectual and cultural resources to solve problems. Diversity also is a source of creative conflict that can lead to a re-examination of assumptions that would otherwise be dominated by male points of view. The putative competitive advantages—fresh ideas, positive outreach and communication with customers, more qualified workers— have persuaded many companies that diversity can produce greater profit.
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Joan Caivano, Jane Marcus-Delgado
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Every day, women across Latin America are terminating their pregnancies under illegal and unsafe circumstances. The number of unsafe abortions—which represent about 95 percent of the total—grew from 3.9 million in 2003 to 4.2 million in 2008, with the annual abortion rate holding steady during that period, at about 32 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages 15 to 44. That's more than double the rate in Western Europe (12 per 1,000)—where abortion is generally permitted without exception. The high rate of unsafe abortions, which is defined by the World Health Organization as a termination of pregnancy performed by individuals without necessary skills, or under conditions that are below minimum medical standards (or both), underlines the dismal state of reproductive rights in the region. And it has had chilling consequences for poor and rural women in particular.
  • Topic: World Health Organization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Renata Avelar Giannini
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The United Nations Security Council has promoted a gender focus in peacekeeping operations, including the protection of civilians, since the adoption of Resolution 1325 (RES1325) in 2000. The logic is simple: involving women in peace negotiations and reconstruction efforts helps ensure a more equitable and stable society following conflict. Since December 2000, Latin American participation in peacekeeping operations has increased by nearly 1,000 percent.1 Of 7,140 military troops deployed in peacekeeping operations worldwide, female personnel participating in those missions total 238, or 3.3 percent. In the two missions with the most Latin American personnel, the region's female representation is higher than that of many other countries, but still lower than the target of 10 percent laid out in UN RES1325. For example, female personnel make up only 2 percent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), but they make up 2.5 percent of all troops deployed from Latin America.2 Likewise, in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, overall female participation is 2.2 percent, but women make up 6.4 percent of Latin American personnel deployed.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Maria Garcia Andia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The strength and quality of democracy depend on how well judiciaries perform and function. In Latin America, after more than 20 years of judicial reforms, there have been some notable achievements. But there is a long way to go before judiciaries can adequately carry out their responsibilities to resolve conflicts, define and interpret rights and laws, and provide the framework for accessible, impartial systems of justice. The judicial reform movement that began in the 1980s—an effort that accompanied the rebuilding of democratic systems—sought to overhaul existing penal codes and procedures to respond to citizens' claims of human rights violations, and to pursue truth, justice and accountability for abuses committed during the dictatorships. Reforms were later expanded and deepened, while others did not take effect until the late 2000s.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Olivia Ruggles-Brise
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America's travel and tourism industry took a hit during the 2008–2009 recession. International arrivals slowed and tourists had less money to spend. But over the longer term, tourism has been a success story—and forecasts suggest continued growth. That should surprise no one. Latin America's sheer diversity in scenic beauty, cuisine and cultures has combined with an increasingly sophisticated domestic industry to cater to every kind of traveler. Since 2006, tourism's direct contribution to GDP in Latin America has grown by 7 percent in real terms—more than double the world average—to reach an estimated $134 billion in 2011. This figure, which is projected to rise to $224 billion in 2022, includes revenue generated by tourism-oriented services such as hotels and airlines, as well as restaurant and leisure industries that cater to tourists. Forecasts for this year suggest tourism's direct contributions will grow by 6.5 percent, behind only Northeast and South Asia (6.7 percent).
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Maria de los Angeles Fernandez, Peter M. Siavelis
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Commentary on Chilean democracy has evolved from praise to concern since conservative President Sebastián Piñera moved into La Moneda Palace in 2010, bringing the Right to power for the first time in over 50 years. The praise was well-earned. Piñera's victory not only showed the Right's vote-getting ability; the peaceful alternation of power in Chile offered conclusive demonstration of one of the continent's most successful democratic transitions. Nevertheless, the Right's victory, which ended 20 years of government by the center-left Concertación, also coincided with a challenge to perceptions about Chile as a paragon of fiscal discipline and political stability. Contemporary Chile is convulsed by social mobilization, and by demands for redistribution and deep reforms to the economic and social model that was once heralded across the region.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Latin America's increasing prosperity and social progress have led analysts to conclude that historic change is taking place. Indeed, poverty in Latin America fell from 41.4 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2010, even at a time of global distress1—a result, in part, of both sustained economic growth and reductions in inequality. As a result, the focus in policy circles has switched to the role an emerging middle class can play in the region, both as an engine of growth and as the foundation for social cohesion and better governance. The key to understanding this shift is accurately defining the middle class in economic terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Latin America