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Ongoing Transitions: Gender and Politics Before and After Chávez

April 16, 2004 - 4:00 pm

Elisabeth Jay Friedman, Barnard College, Columbia University

Long before many Venezuelans rejected “Punto Fijo democracy,” undemocratic aspects of the regime in place until the late 1990s were revealed through the experience of one important sector of society: women.
Historically, women’s ability to organize on their own behalf was deeply affected by the gendered institutions of party organization and state structure, as well as women’s varying, and sometimes conflicting, gender interests. This presentation will compare previous findings with contemporary observation to determine how women’s political opportunities have shifted following the transformation of the political system and the rise of President Hugo Chávez Frías. Such a comparison should contribute to the ongoing debate about the current state of Venezuelan democracy.

Elisabeth Jay Friedman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her publications include Sovereignty, Democracy, and Global Civil Society: State-Society Relations at UN World Conferences, with Kathryn Hochstetler and Ann Marie Clark (SUNY Press, Forthcoming) and Unfinished Transitions: Women and the Gendered Development of Democracy in Venezuela, 1936-1996 (Penn State Press, 2000).