Much of the enthusiasm for decentralization and for enhancing the powers and responsibilities of local units of government is based on the idea that they are closer to the people that the state is supposed to serve. From such arguments, it is often swiftly assumed that the global trend towards the decentralization of public roles, resources and responsibilities is also good for women. The logic is as follows: because prevailing gender relations in most parts of the world continue to see women as responsible for the domestic sphere, women are more likely to be concerned with things homebound and local. As such, decentralization is often regarded as an important vehicle for increasing women’s representation and advancing women’s rights. The reality, however, is not so clear-cut.
Has decentralization made local governments more efficient, transparent, and participatory? Are regional governments more likely to recognize and exercise the rights of women? Do these governments favour the participation of women in social and political matters?
This book examines the impact of decentralization on women by looking at concrete examples from Latin America. It presents research results based on the main findings of projects in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador-Honduras, and Paraguay supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and coordinated by FLACSO Argentina.
Gloria Bonder is the Director, Gender, Society, and Politics with the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Argentina. She coordinated this volume with Clyde Soto, Scholar at the Centre for Research and Documentation (CDE), Paraguay.