Agency and Women's Choices in Chile

IDRC's Democratic Governance, Women's Rights and Gender Equality initiative is supporting a body of comparative research on whether and how democratic processes and institutions are responding to women's rights and gender equality. The projects under this initiative will investigate issues surrounding women's participation in political decision-making, the judiciary and the public sector, and explore ways in which state institutions, political parties, civil society and kin-based social organizations can be influenced to advance women's choices and entitlements as citizens, including through increased representation.

This project focuses on Chile, one of the few countries in the world that has had a female president. When discussing governance and women's political participation, most initiatives focus on external obstacles to women's agency; however, these findings have been neither satisfactory nor conclusive to explain women's much lower levels of participation in the formal exercise of power. The project hypothesizes that obstacles at the subjective level are probably stronger impediments to women's political participation than are those explored by traditional research on democratic governance and women's rights. Through cultural analysis, researchers will endeavor to understand the consensual domination schemes in society and how these are reproduced in all arenas of democratic governance.

Researchers will identify and document experiences, tools and methodologies that shed light on how the subjective construction of agency impacts the political and economic participation of women. They will analyze the importance of a female president as a role model and an influence on the way women engage with democracy, and compare the findings with those from a similar project in Argentina (106429). They will carry out a series of encounters with policymakers and politicians over the course of the project. And, they will formulate policy recommendations aimed at transforming institutional rules so as to make them more responsive to women's rights and gender equality.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, May 6, 2011

End Date

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


24 months

IDRC Officer

Cos-Montiel, Franscisco

Total funding

CA$ 210,900


Chile, South America, North and Central America, Argentina


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Diamela Eltit


Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana

Institution Country


Institution Website