Women’s Movements in Latin America From Elite Organizing to Intersectional Mass Mobilization

Christina Ewig, Elisabeth Jay Friedman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Latin American women’s movements have evolved from elite efforts into intersectional mass movements. Women mobilized in response to a contradictory assortment of political opportunities, including the modernizing patriarchies of early states; the conservative gendered discourses and repression of authoritarian governments; the androcentric processes of democracy and neoliberal reform; and the ideals of revolutionary and left-leaning movements and parties across the twentieth century. Inspired by transnational connections, women’s movements advanced agendas as much about distributive issues as about rights, often drawing strategically on maternal identity. The first educated elite and middle-class activists sought improvement in women’s legal status while also focusing on education and healthcare. Moving into the twentieth century, left-wing women attempted to broaden the class base of their organizing and take advantage of regimes committed to inclusion. Under authoritarianism, right-wing women came out in support, while women defending human rights became central protagonists in regime change. Often sidelined by democracies and economic austerity, activists organized autonomously and demanded inclusion in party politics and state bureaucracies. Indigenous, Afro-descendant, lesbian, trans, and grassroots women expanded agendas while insisting on inclusion. The contemporary massification of women’s movements shows the depth and breadth of mobilization that has matured through well over a century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Latin American Social Movements
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190870393
ISBN (Print)9780190870362
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2023. All rights reserved.


  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Intersectionality
  • Latin America
  • Social movement
  • Women


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