Social mobility has been high in Chile, and upward social movement has been common. The period of military rule in the late 1900s at first appeared to be simply reactionary and traditionalist. But the free-market economic policies that it adopted ultimately led to increased social mobility.
Women have always had a higher degree of independence in Chile than in any other Latin American country. They participate in public life and are numerous in the trades and in professions.
Many women from the middle and upper classes attain higher education and pursue teaching and other professional careers. After women received the vote in 1949 they came to play a decisive role in Chilean elections. The rise of the Christian Democratic Party to power was due partly to its appeal to women.
Women assumed very important roles in the defense of their families against the repression and the economic privations of the Pinochet dictatorship. They emerged as leaders of human rights movements and of so-called popular economic organizations—collective gardens, communal kitchens, and other survival strategies in the poorest neighborhoods.
They also played an important role in the redemocratization movement that finally brought a return to civilian rule in 1990.
Many such organizations remained active and new ones emerged in the 1990s to enable women to play an important role in the reconstruction of social service programs. Women also organized to promote change of discriminatory social legislation, including the prohibition of divorce. In 2004 Chile finally legalized divorce, and in 2006 Chileans elected their first female president. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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