Leadership from the Margins: Women and Civil Society Organizations in Argentina, Chile and El Salvador

Leadership from the Margins: Women and Civil Society Organizations in Argentina, Chile and El Salvador

Leadership from the Margins: Women and Civil Society Organizations in Argentina, Chile and El Salvador

Leadership from the Margins: Women and Civil Society Organizations in Argentina, Chile and El Salvador

Synopsis

Women have experienced decades of economic and political repression across Latin America, where many nations are built upon patriarchal systems of power. However, a recent confluence of political, economic, and historical factors has allowed for the emergence of civil society organizations (CSOs) that afford women a voice throughout the region.

Leadership from the Margins describes and analyzes the unique leadership styles and challenges facing the women leaders of CSOs in Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador. Based on ethnographic research, Serena Cosgrove's analysis offers a nuanced account of the distinct struggles facing women, and how differences of class, political ideology, and ethnicity have informed their outlook and organizing strategies. Using a gendered lens, she reveals the power and potential of women's leadership to impact the direction of local, regional, and global development agendas.

Excerpt

I argue with my compañeros, thank God, as one equal to another. If I
have to swear, I swear. If I have to act feminine, I do it. And if I have to
fight, I fight, never forgetting that I am a woman.

–Magdalena Jamargo, Argentine Printers’ Union

I didn’t want to accept the position [of community president] because
I am a woman and men are screwed up, they are macho … But I was
always talking to them about the land, that we had to take our land
back. Whatever happens, will happen, but we Mapuche have got to
make ourselves heard so at least we won’t be called sheep.

–Petronila Catrileo, President Lonko Juan Segundo Marileo, Pocuno, Chile

We women see ourselves … without political or ideological differ
ences, rather women who come together for a problem that we share:
struggling for space for women in politics.

–Virginia Magaña, President National Association of Salvadoran
Councilwomen and Women Mayors, Santa Tecla, El Salvador

Traditionally men have benefited from gender hierarchies, occupying leadership positions across Latin American society, but a number of factors—political, economic, and historical—have aligned to expand leadership opportunities throughout the region in civil society organizations (CSOs) for women, especially women who have been marginalized by poverty, be it urban or rural, or by ethnicity. Many of these organizations— a number of which are led by women—are successfully achieving their goals and creating new hope for the disenfranchised and marginalized in Latin America. These women leaders are setting up child care centers . . .

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