Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has unveiled his administration’s “Gender Agenda” Wednesday after a “feminist wave” of protests to demand a non-sexist education, the end of violence against women, and structural reforms.
The feminist student movement responded by calling the program “insufficient” and called for a march on June 6. So far 18 universities across the country have mobilized.
Spokesperson for Chile’s Student Confederation Paz Gajardo explained “He is not listening to the current student demands. It doesn’t mention the central demand of the feminist student movement: non-sexist education. This proves the president is downplaying the violence and abuses… students throughout the country are suffering.”
The agenda promotes and guarantees equal rights between men and women and establishes mechanisms for prevention, denunciation, and investigation into all cases of abuse, including sexual harassment, discrimination and ill treatment against both sexes.
However, according to the director of the lesbian organization Breaking the Silence “if you read the measures in detail you realize these are things difficult to implement, that are hard to legislate or that don’t benefit all women.”
The government program has been rejected by activists who claim their demands were not taken into account and argue the move is opportunistic given that feminist demands have taken center stage and are supported by a majority of Chilean society.
Furthermore, the agenda fails to include lesbian women and sexually diverse women, focusing instead on mothers, students at public universities, and women in the army.
Lorena Astudillo, a lawyer with the Chilean Network Against Violence Towards Women told local news site El Desconcierto “this agenda cannot be thought of as serious if the head of state begins by saying ‘we have been unfair to our women,’ placing us once again as things, susceptible to ownership.”
Among other criticisms is that the agenda does not address media outlets that reproduce the sexist culture that leads to violence against women, there is no proposed change to school curricula, and the plan does not include a participatory mechanism for ensuring women shape the policies to solve sexism in the classroom and beyond.