Over the last century, the women’s right movement has succeeded in creating the consensus that, to achieve material gender equality, governments must guarantee certain minimums. This consensus has not come without pushback. Although the proliferation of international norms and standards has been vital to advances in women’s equality, there is an marked tendency to use a rights “checklist” as a measuring stick for progress on women’s rights without creating the conditions for material equality. The new governments in Latin America exemplify this trend: while they regulate women’s issues, they show little political will to take the necessary steps to bring these regulations to fruition. Using Argentina and Colombia as case studies, this paper seeks to define the minimum guarantees required for material quality, identify the obstacles created by the current political climate, and clarify the ways in which constitutional law can prevent backsliding on women’s rights.
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