The Consequences of Suffrage for Argentina

Saturday, January 9, 2010: 11:50 AM
San Diego Ballroom Salon A (Marriott)
Gregory S. Hammond , Colgate University
During the half-century campaign that culminated in the Argentine women's suffrage law of 1947, feminists had ample opportunity to consider the consequences of the proposed reform. Those who most ardently advocated the expansion of voting rights envisioned a society in which the moral strength attributed to women would vindicate society as a whole, purging it of corrupt elements. As the Peronists adopted the suffrage campaign as their own in the mid-1940s, they reiterated many of these vaguely-defined hopes, despite the fact that many of the earlier feminist leaders opposed Perón personally. Following the passage of the suffrage law, Evita Perón organized the Peronist Women's Party (PPF) in order to rally the new voters for Peronism and to allow female candidates the opportunity to run for Congress. A total of 29 women (six senators and 23 deputies) won election in 1951, the first year in which women voted in Argentina. My research will show that, despite the impressive degree of women's participation, little changed for women as a whole in Argentina as a result of the vote, at least in the short term. Political constraints discouraged the new representatives from displaying initiative, although some individuals did display promising political talents. However, in the long term the PPF created an important precedent for women's political activism, culminating in the present administration of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.