[eng] Sofía Esther Brito - From Equality to Equality Democracy: feminist networks in the proposal for a New Chilean Constitution

The dispute of the feminist movements in the constituent process resulted in the first egalitarian constituent body in the world. Of those women who win the election, there are some who, due to the same equality rule understood in binary terms -half male/half female representatives- do not make it to the Convention and have to cede their quota to men. Of those seventy-seven women who became Convention members, at least forty-five of them declared themselves feminists at the time of the election. Feminist demands are driven by the multiple modes of articulation that each of the convention members represents. Feminist militancy in feminist movements. Feminist militancy in social movements that represent a specific struggle for water, housing, health, education, ancestral territories, developing a feminist perspective. Feminist militancy in political parties that have declared themselves as feminist. Or in parties where there are feminist fronts. Or in those in whose understanding of feminism, underlies that "aspire to be" at some point a feminist society, and therefore, consider that a mixed political body can be declared as such. 

Likewise, the following initiatives are presented as Popular Initiatives of Norm (IPN) for discussion in the constitutional body -surpassing 15,000 signatures to begin their processing- initiatives such as "It will be Law: Popular Initiative in Support of Abortion" with 38,200 supports; "Gender and Justice" with 16,827 supports; Popular initiative for the Constitutional recognition of domestic and care work" with 17,963 supports; the "Popular Feminist Initiative for a life free of violence for women, children, diversities and gender diversity" with 19,500 supports and the "Right to identity" with 18,058 supports. All of them raised from feminist and dissident articulations that for years have wondered how to enter into the institutional framework concrete advances for our lives, and that from autonomous spaces have distrusted this same institutional framework.

The multiplicity that is expressed between autonomy and institutional framework, from the non-universalist ways of understanding the category of women, poses an exercise of deep trust in their alliances. Women who want to continue to be called women, women who recognize themselves as diversity or dissidence, women who have been historically excluded from the politics of femininity. The diffuse feminist spaces, that eye that still seeks a centralized organization or a legible structure from the partisan or from the trade union centrals of the twentieth century, achieve that all the rules promoted from their agendas are enshrined in the constitutional text, transforming the sense of understanding ourselves as citizens, political subjects. 

Feminisms burst into the Fundamental Charter as a climbing plant that thinks and names us, invites us to think of other ways of existence and linkage with the public and the community. It is decided to use inclusive language throughout the text. Begin the Constitution in a preamble, where we exist "We the people, women and men" [Nosotras y nosotros el pueblo], and pluralize the word people, in diverse peoples and nations that coexist. It recognizes the democracy of his republic as "egalitarian and inclusive" [paritaria e inclusiva]. From the mandate of those individuals, whose only possible grouping was the singular family, as the fundamental nucleus of the society of the Constitution of 1980, the collective subjects appear before the legal system and are recognized in their interdependence: 

Article 8.- Individuals and peoples are interdependent with nature and form with it an inseparable whole. The State recognizes and promotes good living as a relationship of harmonious balance between people, nature and the organization of society.

The concept of good living frames us in a horizon that seeks to oppose the androcentric frameworks of colonial, sexual and racial oppression, where the subsidiary State imposed a framework of individuation where everyone had to solve their needs by "scratching with their own fingernails". From the absence of social rights and having grown up in a society where the fog of industrial gases "was the smell of progress", the rights of nature and the multiple forms of being in humanity are recognized. The proposal invites us to think of a State that deprivatizes itself to assume an active role in the face of the care crisis. 

Thus, Article 49 establishes the recognition of domestic and care work as socially necessary and indispensable for the sustainability of life and the development of society. The State is proposed as a promoter of social and gender co-responsibility, and must implement mechanisms for the redistribution of domestic and care work, ensuring that it does not represent a disadvantage for those who perform it. In the following article, we find care as a right of every person to be cared for and to take care of themselves from birth to death. The State must guarantee the means for this to be dignified, carried out under conditions of equality and co-responsibility. To this end, an Integral Care System will be created, which will be state-run, equality-based, solidarity-based and universal, with cultural relevance. 

It is not the "mystique of care" - in the words of the economist Cristina Carrasco [1] - loaded on feminized bodies, the way in which the proposal for the new Constitution addresses its recognition. Co-responsibility and interdependence are principles that run through the constitutional proposal. The recognition of rights with a gender perspective involves a constantly moving vision of the role that has been historically delegated to our shoulders. In this line, the right to a life free of gender violence involves a state mandate to adopt the necessary measures for its eradication, as well as the sociocultural patterns that make it possible. Likewise, the guarantee of sexual and reproductive rights includes ensuring to all women and people with the capacity to bear children the conditions for a pregnancy, a voluntary interruption of pregnancy, a voluntary and protected childbirth and maternity. Article 64 states that: "every person has the right to the free development and full recognition of his or her identity, in all its dimensions and manifestations, including sexual characteristics, gender identities and expressions, name and sex-affective orientations".

The mandate of the gender approach and substantive equality appear transversally in articles such as the right to education -recognizing its non-sexist nature-, the right to comprehensive sex education, the right to work, health, housing and social security. In the exercise of public functions, the planning of territorial entities, public security and jurisdictional functions are also governed by this principle. As patriarchy has been a judge -as Las Tesis were right in 2019- in the judicial exercise the intersectional approach and the principles of equality and gender perspective are recognized. According to Article 312: "the courts, whatever their competence, must resolve with a gender perspective (...) The justice systems must adopt all measures to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women, sexual and gender diversities and dissidences, in all its manifestations and spheres.”

The transformation of equality into equality democracy enshrines a mandate: the State promotes a society where women, men, diversities and dissidences participate in conditions of substantive equality. All State bodies, autonomous constitutional bodies, senior and executive bodies of the Administration, as well as the boards of directors of public and semi-public companies, must have an equal composition that ensures that at least fifty percent of their members are women. The State must promote equality integration in its other institutions and in all public and private spaces and will adopt measures for the representation of people of different genders through mechanisms to be created by law. The proposed new Constitution speaks of equality also in political organizations, and even in institutions such as the Police and the Armed Forces. Rural women, children and adolescents, elderly people, people with disabilities, neurodivergent people, are recognized and their rights are guaranteed. 

Feminist and plurinational alliances overcame the turnstiles imposed by the narrow frameworks of the institutional order traced from colonialism. It is no coincidence that in the face of the hope of recovering water, here in the only country in the world where it is private [2], in the face of the consecration of the communal property of indigenous peoples and nations, in the face of the proposal of a society where we can trace the path to recover our lives and our bodies, the conservative forces of the "rejection" oppose, from the circulation of false news, to the threats of greater repression. The roadmap established by the proposed new Constitution is a path that recognizes its complexities, and that, as feminist movements, we have proposed to advance from our multiple struggles. That is why the campaign of the Chilean Network against violence has resounded in all corners of feminist organization: in the face of our determined decision for lives free of violence, firm and convinced: we approve in this plebiscite. 

[1] See: Bengoa, Cristina. (2013). "El cuidado como eje vertebrador de una nueva economía". [Care as the backbone of a new economy]. Cuadernos de Relaciones Laborales. 31. 10.5209/rev_CRLA.2013.v31.n1.41627.

* Sofía Esther Brito (1994). Writer and feminist activist. Law graduate from the University of Chile. Co-author of "La Constitución en debate" [The Constitution under debate] (LOM Ediciones, 2019), editor of "Por una Constitución feminista" [For a feminist Constitution] (Pez Espiral, 2020), "Desafíos para nuestro momento constituyente" [Challenges for our constituent moment] (LOM Ediciones, 2020), among other texts.

[1] Translated from the Spanish by Andrea Balart.

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