Masters Thesis

From strong mothers to independent women: tracing the development of Chilean feminist identity in the twentieth century

On July 25, 2018, another wave of feminist political action crashed onto the Chilean shore. Taking to the streets of Plaza Italia, a public space in the capital city of Santiago where protestors often gather, thousands of women sought to demand the reform of Chile’s strict anti-abortion laws. Yet Chilean women have not been strangers to collective resistance. Throughout Chile’s rich history, women have played a critical yet underestimated role as political activists. Women were instrumental in the rise and fall of Chile’s most infamous leaders, Salvador Allende (1970-1973) and Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). This thesis analyzes the development of a Chilean feminist identity in the twentieth century, tracing women’s transformations from strong mothers during the first wave feminist movement, to independent women in Chile’s second wave feminist movement. By utilizing the latest research in gender studies and analyzing how gendered discourses have shaped identity, social, and political institutions, I argue that Chilean women continue to be critical historical authorities, and their engagement in Chile’s political process has helped dismantle old, and create new, gendered relations of power. Finally, this work will examine how women’s political involvement has shaped contemporary feminism and the feminist revolution currently taking place in Chile.

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