News > GI-ESCR brings Chilean experience of feminist resistance to the International Association for Feminist Economists Annual Conference

30 Jun 2021


GI-ESCR brings Chilean experience of feminist resistance to the International Association for Feminist Economists Annual Conference

On 25 June 2021, GI-ESCR’s Executive Director Magdalena Sepúlveda, participated in the closing panel of the 2021 Annual Conference of the International Congress of Feminist Economics organised by the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), bringing the Chilean experience of feminist resistance to the conference, from the experience of an acknowledged key actor in the field. The topic of this year’s IAFFE Annual Conference was Sustaining Life: Challenges of Multidimensional Crises.

GI-ESCR’s presentation focused on the organising experience in Chile that led to the constituent process, with special emphasis on the relationship between feminist resistance and economic justice.

Sustaining Life


For the IAFFE, sustaining life requires the confluence of inclusive and resilient economic and political systems, as well as environmental sustainability. This vision builds on a diagnosis that evidences the resurgence of reactionary governments, with economic and political systems failing to meet human needs and to address the fragility of ecosystems, along with societies increasingly characterised by tensions of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender and sexual identity that foster divisions.

The IAFFE therefore seeks a more integrated understanding of well-being, in which the productive and reproductive spheres are made visible and valued, incorporating perspectives from other disciplines into this thinking.

In this context, the collaboration of GI-ESCR, working with global feminist organisations and with a well-rooted experience in feminist resistance, has been key to understanding the impacts of the economy on the lives of women in the global south from a social rights framework.

GI-ESCR’s input on The constituent process and social rights

In her intervention, Magdalena highlighted the key role that feminist movements have historically played in the recognition and expansion of social, political and economic rights, also acknowledging the common origin of citizen movements demanding social rights and contemporary feminist movements in Chile.

Our Director traced the public relevance of social rights in Chilean social discourse to episodes such as the student marches of 2006 and 2011, the protests for better pensions, and the movements against dam construction and environmental protection. All of which were articulated in the language of rights in the constitutional discussion process triggered by Michelle Bachelet’s government in 2017.

The GI-ESCR representative also highlighted that, currently, the central axis of all these movements is the rejection of the Pinochet Constitution and of neoliberalism as the country’s economic model, the end of which brings hopes and expectations of putting an end to the rampant inequalities that have been experienced since then.

Feminist resistance: The Chilean experience

In particular, Magdalena traced the emergence of feminist movements in Chile to the 1930s, re-emerging strongly in specific periods such as the passing of the divorce law and the sexual harassment law.

However, she identified two historical events that marked the origins of a broader and more organised feminist resistance: the election of the country’s first woman president and the articulation of social movements around economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. As the first expression of this autonomous feminist resistance, Magdalena referred to the marches for sexual and reproductive rights that intertwined both gender equality and social rights.

Since then, she noted that:

Feminist movements have only grown, taking on new dimensions and even articulating international feminist solidarity movements, through the occupation of public space, the use of public campaigns and artistic language to interpret the feelings of women in Chile and other countries and advocate for the protection of their rights.

The Executive Director highlighted that one of the greatest triumphs of this resistance has been the incorporation of parity in the election of those who will represent Chile in the Constitutional Convention that begins its activities on 4 July.

Magdalena ended her presentation by stressing that:

The work of this organisation involves important issues, such as the transformation of the economic and social system, the visibility of women’s contribution to the economic and productive sectors, and the mainstreaming of the gender perspective in economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. These challenges demonstrate Chile’s relevance as a pivotal country for the region and the global south in relation to both the recognition and regulation of care and domestic work, and the protection of nature from the unbridled extractivism that it has been experiencing in recent decades.

IAFFE 2021 Annual Conference: “Sustaining Life: Challenges of Multidimensional Crises”

Sustaining life requires inclusive and resilient economic and political systems and the sustainability of our environment.  Feminist economics continues to offer a vital set of intellectual perspectives and methodologies with which to analyze these issues. Our economic and political systems are failing to address human needs and ecological fragility, particularly with the growing rise of illiberal democracies. Our societies face pressures to divide along lines of race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual identity.  Borders are increasingly shutting people out and walls are being built. Globally, women face threats to their jobs, their livelihoods and their bodily integrity. The global pandemic has exacerbated all of these challenges. 

Against this backdrop, new economic visions and tools are needed and feminist approaches are essential. Feminist economics has long looked beyond the simplifications that are embedded in the categories, methods, and models of mainstream economics and welcomes insights from other disciplines. Our approaches look at activities within the socially constructed categories of households, firms, communities, and the state; we consider economic activity both inside and outside markets; and we seek a more integrated understanding of human well-being in which productive and reproductive activities are valued.

The IAFFE 2021 Conference provide a forum for scholarship and inquiry that recognizes the methodological pluralism of our field. We define our field broadly and welcome research that brings a feminist lens to topics both micro and macro, local and global. We invite you to join us for this virtual conference, hosted by the Quito Local Committee.

For more information on the Congress, visit the website of the International Association for Feminist Economics.

More news