Implications for Colombian Women Under President-Elect Gustavo Petro

Colombia will have its first leftist government in the century; Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez won the presidential election with 50,4% of the vote. Changes will impact women and might create new opportunities.

The Woman Post | Diana Sedano Valdes

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Francia Márquez is the first Black Colombian elected vice president. The election in Colombia was peaceful, with few incidents. The voter rate increased compared to the past elections, and the blank vote decreased in a context of high polarization. Some sectors have evaluated the risks of Petro's arrival to the presidency. However, during his victory speech, he called for unity and will work with the opposition and all sectors. Democracy is strong in Colombia, with a solid check and balances system, so it will be challenging for him to rule with the current scenario of opposition and independent forces in Congress.

New President, New Changes

Petro has announced a progressive agenda through his government program and proposals. According to Edelman Global Advisory analysts, some significant changes with this new government will include:

-A stronger implementation of the peace accords with the FARC and reopening negotiation spaces with the rebel group ELN.

-A progressive tax reform that will mainly affect individuals and institutions with the highest revenues.

-A transition to clean energies that promotes a productive decarbonized economy that avoids extractivism.

-The strengthening of the agriculture and tourism sectors.

-An increase in social programs expenditure.

All these changes will impact women and might create new opportunities.

Women in Colombia: Several Challenges

In Colombia, there are 23.312.832 women in a highly unequal society. 15,4% of women who can work are unemployed, earning 13% less than men – it goes up to 36% in women in senior positions. They are also the most likely to lose their jobs in Latin America (39%). In addition, women are the most affected by violence – societal and domestic-. With all this, it is essential to deploy women-centered policies to reduce inequalities. President-elect Gustavo Petro has expressed his intention to put it on his main agenda, and feminist groups have actively advocated for better inclusion policies.

Petro's Experience

During his last years as a politician, Gustavo Petro has had a progressive agenda, including women's rights. Recently, during the legislative elections, his party presented a closed list to Congress composed of 50% women; they obtained 20 seats in the House of Representatives and 28 in the Senate - it is now the party with most congresswomen-. However, during his presidential campaign, he had to work hard to count women's votes. His political strategies succeeded, and his victory was possible thanks to Francia Márquez.

One of his main achievements was as Mayor of Bogota in 2011. He promoted the establishment of the Women's Secretary and the Friendly services in Sexual and reproductive healthcare for women. He was aware of violence against women and tried to carry on programs to stop it. However, he was criticized for his closeness to politicians implicated in possible cases of harassment of women, such as Hollman Morris. Petro had also received critics for his campaign in 2018 when Ángela María Robledo was his vice-presidential formula. She affirmed being left behind in the campaign and not enough supported by Gustavo Petro.

Also read: LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS AND CONSULTATIONS IN COLOMBIA: PROGRESS FOR WOMEN?

The Importance of Francia Márquez and Petro's Program "The Change Is With Women"

During his campaign, Gustavo Petro said he would establish a Ministry of Equality, led by Vice President Francia Márquez. He has frequently stated that women will increase their participation and representation in politics, and they will hold 50% of the public positions. Petro also promotes the establishment of the National System of Care. He has compromised to facilitate the mechanisms that protect women from violence, defend their sexual and reproductive rights, recognize their unpaid domestic labor, and launch rural and land reforms to guarantee access to ownership. Francia Márquez will be vital in addressing these matters and ensuring Gustavo Petro accomplishes his proposals. As a women's leader who has experienced the armed conflict, Francia has the perfect experience to advocate and execute in favor of women's rights in all contexts.

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