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Bolivian Constitution Reinvented To Champion Gender Equality

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One year after the inauguration of a new Bolivian constitution, the Associated Press reports the government of Evo Morales has made significant progress in the fight for gender equality.

Half of Bolivia's Cabinet is now female, reflecting the indigenous Quechua principle of "Chacha Warmi" - two sexes, working together to attain equilibrium in the cosmos.

"We still have men who don't want women to participate in Bolivia, but we have fought against that and here we are with more power than ever," comments Bartolina Sisa Federation of Indigenous Peasant Women leader Leonilda Zurita.

Few expected Morales to act so quickly to advance gender equality.  Since he took power in 2006, women have assumed roles as president of the senate; head of customs; and leader of the ruling party in congress.  Moreover, women now occupy 28% of congressional seats and 47% in the senate.

Despite progress at the national level, Associated Press notes women still experience problems in local government: only 25 out of 327 mayors and 327 out of 1,671 council members are female.

Still, recently appointed Justice Minister Nilda Copa told the she's optimistic about the future:

"For a long time, us women have been excluded in Bolivia.

"I remember my mother didn't know how to read and write, neither did my grandmother.

"There used to be a lot of racism and machismo.  There is still some, but now that is changing thanks to brother Evo Morales."

Until 1952, women were not allowed to vote in Bolivia.  Indeed, they weren't allowed to inherit or hold title to land until recently.

But Associated Press reports a land redistribution program created during Morales' first presidential term granted 10,300 property titles to women between 2006 and 2008 - roughly one in three titles.

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