Hard times for citizenship: Women's movements in Chile and Mexico
This article comparatively analyses the cases of Mexico and Chile to understand how women's movements contest the meaning of citizenship in various national contexts. We also assess the consequences that different movement strategies, such as ‘autonomy’ versus ‘double militancy’, have for movements' citizenship goals. To explain the different outcomes in the two cases, we focus on the nature of the democratic transition, the internal coherence of women's movements, the nature of alliances with other civil society actors, the ideological orientation of the newly democratized state, the form of women's agency within the state, and the nature of the neoliberal economic reforms. We argue that a serious problem for women in both Chile and Mexico is the fact that governments themselves are deploying the concept of citizenship as a way to legitimate their social and economic policies. While women's movements seek to broaden the meaning of citizenship to include social rights, neoliberal governments employ the rhetoric of citizen activism to encourage society to provide its own solutions to economic hardship and poverty. While this trend is occurring in both Chile and Mexico, there are some features of the political opportunity structure in Chile that enable organized women to contest the state's more narrow vision of democratic citizenship. In Mexico, on the other hand, the neoliberal economic discourse of the current government is matched by a profoundly conservative ideological rhetoric, thereby reducing the political opportunities for women to forward a gender equality agenda.