Expanding women's citizenship?: the representation of Pobladora and Mapuche women in the Chilean state
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Women’s movements in the Southern Cone have achieved the representation of women’s interests in the state in various forms. But how well do state strategies to represent women deal with claims for rights based on difference? Rooting their respective claims in ethnic and class difference, Mapuche women and pobladora activists present an important challenge to the gender discourse promoted by Chile’s National Women’s Service (Sernam). Sernam’s gender discourse, which represents the rights and responsibilities of Chilean women citizens, focuses on equality of opportunities between women and men. Mapuche women’s demands, meanwhile, are linked to cultural differences and inequalities among women, and those of pobladora activists are linked to socio-economic marginalization. Sernam is reluctant to deal with these claims, which reflects power differences among women as well as Sernam’s role as part of a state with particular socio-economic and ideological goals. In the case of the Mapuche, the Chilean state is reticent to address demands for cultural rights, preferring to reframe them as socio-economic problems. In the case of the poor, a market-oriented approach to reducing poverty has proven inadequate as a response to inequality and offers limited opportunities for participation. The findings presented in this dissertation are important in that they demonstrate the difficulties faced by particular groups of women who make claims rooted in difference. Moreover, these two cases have important, and divergent, implications for the discussion of citizenship. While the Mapuche case questions the applicability of universal citizenship rights and indicates a need to incorporate cultural rights into the citizenship regime, the pobladora case indicates a need to guarantee universal socioeconomic rights.