SANTIAGO – The Senate and Congress have now approved a bill requiring gender parity in the event of a constitutional convention. The bill squeaked by thanks to a few right-wing legislators who helped give it the majority it needed. If the April plebiscite puts Chile on the path to a new constitution, the effect of this bill will be historic: it will be the first time ever that a constitution was created with equal input from women.
On Mar. 5, Congress and the Senate approved a bill calling for gender parity in the event of a constitutional convention. What this means is that if the Apruebo (“Approve”) option wins in the upcoming plebiscite in April, the resulting constitutional convention must be 50% female. This would make the resulting Chilean constitution the first in the world to be created by a convention that has complete gender parity.
The bill was first introduced back in December 2019, after an earlier bill was struck down. The bill was presented by the National Renewal party (RN) and approved in January after which it had to be sent to the constitutional committee where it had to be reviewed before being officially passed by the senate.
This bill managed to pass thanks to RN senators who switched their votes in support of their own parties’ bill. The only ones who opposed it were the more hard-right senators, while center-right representative, Felipe Kast, abstained from voting, a move that was met with criticism due to his previous support of progressive bills.
The idea behind this is that in districts where only male candidates are elected, they will disregard the winner with the least votes and swap him with the female candidate with the most votes instead. This change will always be in accordance to the party of the individuals. They won’t change a right-wing male candidate in favor of a left-wing female candidate; they will only switch him with a right-wing female candidate.
This would help ensure that a minimum of 45% of representatives from one district would be from the underrepresented sex, with a maximum of 55%.
The legislative bodies are currently pointing at the next challenge for the constitutional convention: to ensure representation of indigenous groups, like the Mapuche and Aymara.
This would be done by reserving a position specifically for representatives of these groups. However, some members of the Indigenous Parliament have said that this is not enough, that they should be consulted on what the new constitution would include since any changes would impact them directly.