Through decades of activism by feminist groups and national actors, Latin America has made advances in its representation of women in political positions.
In 1997, El Salvador’s Congress made a motion to criminalise abortion, with legislators finalizing their decision without opening the case for public debate or consulting any medical professionals. The campaign was headed by a number of anti-choice groups backed by the Catholic church, and the opposition, which took the form of a few women’s rights activists, was literally silenced when their microphones were disconnected during the trial (Lakhani 2017).
As a majority Catholic country, abortion in Argentina has always been a sensitive topic. Illegal except for in a few cases, the Human Rights Watch estimates that nearly 500,000 abortions occur in Argentina annually, constituting about 40 percent of all pregnancies. It is also the leading cause of maternal mortality in the country (Human Rights Watch, 2018).
For over 50 years, Colombia has been riddled with violence and corruption. To combat this corruption and a lack of representation, idealists form guerrilla groups fight for their beliefs and morals. The reasons for creating guerrilla groups vary, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), for example, were founded on socialist ideals.
Six countries in the world have bans on abortion under all circumstances, four of those are in Latin America. Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have the strictest abortion laws in the world even prohibiting abortion to save a woman’s life. El Salvador has prosecuted 150 women for abortion with 49 women being convicted and 26 charged with homicide. Legally, doctors must report any woman that they suspect has had an abortion and women could face anywhere from two to eight years in prison.
After three years of the heading the organization, UN Women, which strives for international gender equality and empowerment of women, Michelle Bachelet returned to her seat as president of Chile. This is her second term in office and she is focusing especially hard on equality for women. As the leader of UN Women, Bachelet and other diplomats, worked on the 58th session of the Commission of the Status of Women to stake out five of the most important women’s equality agreements to improve on in international law.
The government of El Salvador has released a suggestion for women to delay becoming pregnant until 2018 due to the outbreak of the Zika virus. El Salvador is one of several countries (including Jamaica, Colombia, and Ecuador) to make such a suggestion but theirs is the most contradictory of them all considering their extremely strict anti-abortion laws and hard-to-access forms of contraception.