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Dona Violeta and the UNO’s Gender Agenda. Violeta Barrios de Chamorro President of Nicaragua April 25, 1990 – January 10, 1997.

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Presentation on theme: "Dona Violeta and the UNO’s Gender Agenda. Violeta Barrios de Chamorro President of Nicaragua April 25, 1990 – January 10, 1997."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dona Violeta and the UNO’s Gender Agenda

2 Violeta Barrios de Chamorro President of Nicaragua April 25, 1990 – January 10, 1997


4  Violeta’s husband Pedro Joaquin Chamorro  Was assassinated in January 1978  Was an editor of the daily newspaper La Prensa  Was one of the most important political figures in recent Nicaraguan history  Outspoken opponent of the Somoza dynasty for decades  His assassination set off general strikes that set off several periods of popular insurrection  Violeta’s children  Two are opposed to the revolution like her  Two are fervent Sandinistas  All have been actively involved in politics  All are in good relations with one another

5  Represented the National Opposition Union or Union Nacional Opositora (UNO)  Projected an image of herself as the mother of her country  Presented as symbolic of the private woman and traditional mother  Reminded public she was the widow of Pedro Joaquin  Promised she would reconcile the Nicaraguan people (affected by a decade of war) as she had reconciled her own politically torn family  Was called the “Mom of all Nicaraguans”  Won the presidential election in 1990 with 54.7% of the vote

6 1) Loyal wife and widow 2) Reconciling mother 3) Virgin Mary -Often dressed in white - the symbol of purity

7 DONA VIOLETAVIRGIN MARY  Suffered the murder of her husband  The widow of a martyred savior  Compliant to her husband’s will  Unable to act without male direction  Celibate since Pedro Joaquin’s death (loyal- widow image)  Suffered the murder of her son  The mother of a martyred savior  Complied with the will of God and Jesus  Could only plead the case of humans before God the Father  The celibacy of Mary

8  Somoza regime was dictatorial and repressive  After Violeta Chamorro’s husband’s assassination she takes over the management of La Prensa which helps the Sandinista cause  Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) takes control of the country in 1979  Within a year Violeta Chamorro is disillusioned with the leftist policies of the Sandinistas and uses her newspaper to attack them  Contras fight against the Sandinista government  Sandinista government agrees to hold free elections in 1990  Violeta Chamorro of the National Opposition Union is elected over Daniel Ortega Saavedra (Sandinista candidate)  Violeta Chamorro is the first women president of a Central American nation

9  New economic opportunities for women  Reforms in labor law  Social services like child care centers  Expanded educational opportunities  New opportunities for reformed gender relations  No-fault divorce  Establishment of government agencies to help women put their new rights into practice

10  UNO promised the “moral and social recovery of the traditional nucleus of the Nicaraguan family”  Reimposed traditional patterns of parental, particularly paternal, control  A campaign advertisement warned that voting for the FSLN would result in the “continuation of obligatory military service and the suffering of mothers”

11 Violeta Barrios de Chamorro took her husband’s last name Made it clear she was not a guerrilla (Sandinista image of womanhood) Made it clear she was not knowledgeable about politics and thus would be able to end the contra war Traditional womanhood appealed to older women

12  Three policies emerged from the executive branch  Education  Day Care  “Economic Conversion”

13  New textbooks in a series called “Morals and Civics” were published  Presented images and discussions of correct gender and generational relations  Emphasized the value of legal marriage  Emphasized the evils of abortion  Sixth-grade text had a nine page discussion of the Ten Commandments (wanted openness of values of Christian inspiration)

14  Child Development Centers and Rural Child Services were closed or cut back on services provided to children

15  UNO wanted to cut female employment because a woman’s role is in the home as a “good mother”  Plan encouraged members of the state bureaucracy to quit their jobs in exchange for a cash payment of up to $2000 (US)  These workers could then start own small businesses  Most of these businesses wouldn’t survive in the disastrous economy  U.S. encouraged this plan to reduce state bureaucracy

16 This plan had two unintended benefits Reduced the number of Sandinistas in the bureaucracy Returned women to their traditional roles as housewives More women ended up taking advantage of the plan than men did

17 SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES LAISSEZ-FAIRE CONSERVATIVES  Violeta Chamorro’s model  Religious hierarchy  Promotes ascribed roles for women and men  Gender as a divinely oriented ordering in which men have natural authority over women  Women support men  Women believe there are few natural differences between the sexes  Fight for women’s rights

18  In 1991 legislation was introduced to enforce paternal child support  Initially proposed during Sandinista rule but never passed because included social as well as economic responsibility  New legislation was delayed reportedly because of pressures from religious hierarchy which is allied with social conservatives  Pressure from Laissez-faire conservatives as well as Sandinistas persuaded the vote  Bill approved and became law in 1992

19  In 1992 the Commission on Women proposed a revision of sex-crime legislation  Signed by 12 Sandinista representatives, both women and men, and 5 female representatives from the UNO  First step was a draft bill calling for broadening the definition of rape and strengthening its penalties  Two provisions became controversial  Proposals to eliminate the antisodomy provision of the 1974 code  Depenalize abortion in the case of rape

20 UNO supported and FSLN rejected two controversial provisions (both pass)  The antisodomy law language was strengthened in the final version. The 1992 version penalized both conduct and speech that might be construed as promoting such conduct  Raped women were denied the right to an abortion but did have the right to collect child support from the rapist

21 Why the child-support law passed but the antisodomy law was strengthened instead of eliminated The child-support law would benefit the majority of Nicaraguans while the antisodomy law would only hurt a small minority Grass roots organizing helped in the child support law The Archbishop announced that homosexual practices were “immoral” and endorsed the antisodomy article thus Violeta Chamorro was obligated to sign it into law

22  Coalitions exist between UNO and Sandinista feminists  Potential for feminist gains if it allies itself with grass-roots organizations - especially women’s movements

23  Violeta Chamorro was not a feminist yet she became the first woman president in Central America  Chamorro’s government was antifeminist but there was potential for feminist gains within the Commission on Women

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