Women in Argentina

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Women in Argentina
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - Foto Oficial 2.jpg
The current President of Argentina is a woman
Gender Inequality Index
Value 0.380 (2012)
Rank 71st
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 77
Women in parliament 37.7% (2012)
Females over 25 with secondary education 57.0% (2010)
Women in labour force 47.3% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index[1]
Value 0.7195 (2013)
Rank 34th out of 136

Women in Argentina have attained a relatively high level of equality by Latin American standards, and in the Global Gender Gap Report prepared by the World Economic Forum in 2009, Argentine women ranked 24th among 134 countries studied in terms of their access to resources and opportunities relative to men.[2] They enjoy comparable levels of education, and somewhat higher school enrollment ratios than their male counterparts. They are well integrated in the nation's cultural and intellectual life,[3] though less so in the nation's economy. Their economic clout in relation to men is higher than in most Latin American countries, however,[4] and numerous Argentine women hold top posts in the Argentine corporate world;[5] among the best known are Cris Morena, owner of the television production company by the same name, María Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, former CEO and majority stakeholder of Loma Negra, the nation's largest cement manufacturer, and Ernestina Herrera de Noble, director of Grupo Clarín, the premier media group in Argentina.

Following President Juan Perón's enactment of women's suffrage in 1949, First Lady Evita Perón led the Peronist Women's Party until her death in 1952, and helped enhance the role of women in Argentine society. Women played a significant role as both supporters and opponents of the National Reorganization Process, Argentina's last dictatorship, in the late 1970s, and the establishment of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an advocacy group led by mothers of the disappeared, was done by Azucena Villaflor de Vicenti and, mostly, other women, on the rationale that they would be less likely to be the targets of repression (Villaflor de Vicenti and her fellow founders were murdered by the regime in 1977).[6] Women's rights in Argentina progressed in significant ways following the return of democracy in 1983. President Raúl Alfonsín signed laws in 1987 both limiting Patria potestas (the latitude given to a father regarding his treatment of fellow household members, particularly children) and legalizing divorce, helping resolve the legal status of 3 million adults living in legal separation.[7] The Argentine quota law signed by President Carlos Menem in 1991 provides that one-third of the members of both houses of congress must be women, a goal achieved through balanced election slates.[8] As of 2006, there were 29 women in the 72-seat Senate, 86 women in the 257-seat Argentine Chamber of Deputies, two female Supreme Court justices, and three women in the presidential cabinet.[8] The President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected in 2007; the runner-up in the crowded field was also a woman, Elisa Carrió.

Argentine women face numerous systemic challenges common to those in other nations, however. Domestic violence in Argentina is a serious problem, as are obstacles to the timely prosecution of rape, the prevalence of sexual harassment, and a persistent gender gap in pay, among other iniquities.[8]

Mestizo woman in San Rafael, Mendoza
President Cristina Kirchner (r) and singer/songwriter María Elena Walsh

Domestic violence[edit]

Amnesty International reported in February 2012 that a woman died every two days as a result of domestic violence in Argentina. According to press reports quoting the Buenos Aires Provincial Ministry of Security statistics, 52,351 complaints of domestic abuse were filed at the Women's Police Stations in Buenos Aires Province in the first 10 months of the year. Women are constantly being mistreated at home more than in public so that men aren't arrested. Studies show that in Argentina there are 260 cases being worked on in Argentina. The Argentinan Government is aware that this is being done in Argentina. And according to news, laws will be established to stop this act in Argentina.

The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, although the law defines violence against women as a misdemeanor, and complaints are addressed in civil rather than criminal courts. Family court judges have the right to bar a perpetrator from a victim's home or workplace. The law, however, prescribes penalties for domestic violence only when it involves crimes against sexual integrity, in which case the penalty can be as much as 20 years' imprisonment. However, lack of vigilance on the part of the police and the judicial system often led to a lack of protection for victims. According to a report by the Ministry of Justice National Crime Policy Office, more than 1,000 cases of sexual abuse were reported in the first four months of the year. The office estimated that only one-third of such crimes were reported, with only 10 percent of the cases resulting in convictions. The report indicated that 60 percent of the victims were minors and 40 percent young adult women.[8]

The Ministry of Justice operates mobile units to assist victims of sexual and domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires. A free hot line serving women in Buenos Aires offers consultations and received complaints. Following enactment of enabling legislation in September 2008, the Buenos Aires provincial government began implementing a register of individuals convicted of sex crimes.

In 2008, family and civil courts in Buenos Aires Province, in compliance with a provincial Supreme Court order, created hot lines to receive complaints of domestic violence and assist victims after normal hours. Criminal courts work with police stations, police offices for women's issues, and prosecutors' offices to enable victims to file domestic violence complaints 24 hours a day. Public and private institutions offer prevention programs and provide support and treatment for abused women. The Buenos Aires municipal government operates a small shelter for battered women; however, few other shelters exist.

In September 2008 the Argentine Supreme Court inaugurated the Office of Domestic Violence, a pilot project to improve access to justice and provide protection for victims in the city of Buenos Aires. The office was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employed 72 professionals, including lawyers, judicial employees, and medical and psychological specialists. It collected written testimony from victims and educated court officials on how to use such testimony in lieu of oral testimony to avoid revictimization. In the first two months of operations, the office assisted 1,075 domestic violence victims, referring 660 cases to civil courts and 419 to penal courts for further legal action. The office also referred 246 cases to existing free legal assistance services and 210 cases to medical assistance programs.

Human trafficking in Argentina[edit]

While individual prostitution is legal in Argentina. Promotion, facilitation, or forcing of people into prostitution is illegal, despite this, it does occur.[8] Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) consider sex tourism a problem in Argentina, but have no estimates of its extent. Trafficking of women to and within the country for prostitution is a problem.[8]

Rape and sexual harassment[edit]

Sexual harassment in the public sector is prohibited under laws that impose disciplinary or corrective measures.[8] In some jurisdictions (for instance, in the city of Buenos Aires), sexual harassment may lead to the abuser's dismissal from work, whereas in other areas (such as Santa Fe Province), the maximum penalty is five days in prison.[8] No federal law expressly prohibits sexual harassment in the private sector.[8] Lugar de Mujer (Spanish for "Place for Women"), a woman's rights NGO, reported that it received approximately 70 complaints of sexual harassment per month.[8] A survey carried out by the Government Administration Workers Union estimated that 47.4 percent of the women interviewed had been sexually harassed.[8]

Rape, including spousal rape, is a felony in Argentina; but the need for proof, either in the form of clear physical injury or the testimony of a witness, has often presented difficulties in prosecuting such crimes. According to the National Office for Criminal Policy, law enforcement agencies received 3,154 complaints of rape during 2005.[9] The penalties for rape may reach up to 20 years' imprisonment, and there were no reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; however, women's rights advocates claimed that police, hospital, and court attitudes toward sexual violence victims often re-victimized the individual. A Rape Victims Association report estimated that during the year, there were approximately 1,500 rapes in the city of Buenos Aires and its suburbs, of which only one-third of which were reported. According to the National Prosecutor General's Office, 90 percent of rape or sexual assault cases did not result in convictions.[10]

Economic gender gap[edit]

Since the 1869 enactment of the Argentine Civil Code, it's illegal to discriminate based on gender (including in property rights), women often encounter economic discrimination and hold a disproportionately higher number of lower-paying jobs.[8] Approximately 70 percent of women employed outside the home work in unskilled jobs, although more women than men hold university degrees.[8] According to a 2007 study by the Foundation for Latin American Economic Research (FIEL), men earned 5 percent more than women for equivalent full-time work in the Greater Buenos Aires area, and earned 21 percent more than women for equivalent part-time work, an imbalance explicitly prohibited by law: prison terms of up to three years can be issued for discrimination based on gender.[8]

Prohibition of abortion as a form of birth control[edit]

Abortion in Argentina remains prohibited as of 2010, and is legal only in cases of rape, or where the life of the mother in danger.[11] The Argentine Penal Code 846, moreover, was amended in 2008 to place stricter sanctions against women who seek an abortion, as well as any medical staff involved in the act.[12] These limitations notwithstanding, an estimated 500,000 abortions are performed annually in Argentina (compared to around 700,000 live births), resulting in at least 10,000 hospitalizations due to complications[13] (estimates vary widely)[14] and around 100 deaths (a third of all maternal mortality).[15][16] Access to contraceptives has long been discouraged by a succession of Argentine governments,[17] which instead reward large families with subsidies that rise disproportionately with the seventh child;[18] though Argentine women have long had among Latin America's lowest birth rates (averaging 2.3 births per woman in recent years), the policy has tended to encourage higher birth rates in the lowest strata of society (including women least able to afford large families).[18] Contraceptives are widely used by sexually active Argentine women, as condoms are by Argentine men, and a variety of birth control products can be obtained freely in pharmacies;[19] the Argentine government began their free distribution in 2003.[17]

Advocacy and international law[edit]

The National Council of Women carries out programs to promote equal social, political, and economic opportunities for women. The council worked with the special representative for international women's issues, the Ministry of Labor, and union and business organizations to form the Tripartite Committee on Equal Opportunity for Men and Women in the Workplace, which seeks to foster equal treatment and opportunities for men and women in the job market.[20]

In 1985, Argentina ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In 1994, the National Constituent Convention incorporated the ratification of the CEDAW into the text of the new constitution. During the 1990s, some laws began to tackle domestic violence, by empowering police agencies and provincial judicial authorities to establish preventive measures. Although the Government of Argentina ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women in 1996 (enacted in the 1994 Convention of Belem do Pará), not all Argentine provinces have promulgated regulations for its application. Despite the creation in 1985 of the Women's Department under the auspices of the Office of the President, provincial delegations or Women's Sections still have not been established throughout the entire nation.[21]


  1. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013". World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  2. ^ La Nación: Mujeres siguen siendo discriminadas (Spanish)
  3. ^ Educ.ar: La mujer y sus derechos (Spanish)
  4. ^ iEco: Brecha salarial (Spanish)
  5. ^ iEco: Las mujeres que manejan los millones (Spanish)
  6. ^ Fleitlowitz, Marguerite. A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  7. ^ Every Culture: Argentina
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Report on Human Rights Practices 2006: Argentina. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (March 6, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78877.htm
  10. ^ http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78877.htm
  11. ^ Despenalización (Spanish)
  12. ^ Harvard Law Review: Abortion rights in Argentina
  13. ^ Página/12: Las cifras para abrir el debate (Spanish)
  14. ^ Los Angeles Times: How Many Abortions in Mexico
  15. ^ Human Rights Watch: Women's Access to Contraceptives and Abortion in Argentina
  16. ^ Planned Parenthood: Abortion in Argentina
  17. ^ a b Argentina: Limits on Birth Control Threaten Human Rights
  18. ^ a b Clarín: La fábrica de hijos (Spanish)
  19. ^ The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Argentina. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 1997.
  20. ^ Report on Human Rights Practices 2008: Argentina. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (March 6, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ Ocampo, Irene. Women's human rights in Argentina: advances, setbacks and the tasks ahead. (National Contexts). Women's Health Collection. 01-01-03.

External links[edit]