Colombia: Gender equality and inclusive language

The discussion around language use could be endless

Colombia: Gender equality and inclusive language

The use of inclusive language has become a debate in Colombia. There are people who argue that in any expression people should feel included and there are others words and expression where it is not necessary. An example of this is the debate regarding the role of women in language.

“Bogotá para todos y para todas”

Congressman Alirio Uribe, from the political party “Polo Democrático”, presented a recourse for the current mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, to modify his slogan "Bogotá para Todos". The change consists on saying "Bogotá para Todos y Todas", which in English means saying for everyone both in the masculine and femenin form. The proposal was ruled in favor of the congressman on December 14th.

From this day, the public opinion has not been made wait. A debate has been generated by different media where some are totally in agreement and others see it as ridiculous. The Royal Spanish Academy has stated that this type of unfolding is artificial and unnecessary from the linguistic point of view.

In the nouns that designate animate beings there is the possibility of the generic use of masculine to designate the class, that is, to all the individuals of the species, without distinction of sexes.

The explicit mention of the feminine is only justified when the opposition of the sexes is relevant in the context. The current tendency to indiscriminate unfolding of the noun in its masculine and feminine form goes against the principle of economy of language and it is based on extralinguistic reasons.

Therefore, these repetitions that generate syntactic and concordance difficulties, and unnecessarily complicate the writing and reading of the texts, should be avoided. However, it is a fact that the mayor has to change the slogan of all the merchandising. The changing generates unnecessary and additional costs for the district government.

This is not new: Peace Agreement

However, this is not new. During the peace talks in 2016 with the FARC-EP, it was required that in the text of the final agreement had be made the distinction of the female gender. The requirement aimed to avoid any type of discrimination in the application and implementation of the agreement.

As a result, adjustments had to be made to the original text, which also generated many criticisms, since the agreement remained with expressions with a gender duplication. In addition, including female word form extended the pages of the text, and in some cases it made ideas incomprehensible.


The Royal Spanish Academy claims that these expressions go against the economy of language.


LatinAmerican Post | Tatiana Restrepo


Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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