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The Dilma Effect? Women's Representation under Dilma Rousseff's Presidency

  • Farida Jalalzai (a1) and Pedro G. dos Santos (a2)

Women are making important strides as presidents in Latin America as of late. This trend became evident in 2006 when Michelle Bachelet gained the Chilean presidency. Cristina Fernández followed shortly thereafter in Argentina. In 2010, Dilma Rousseff (popularly referred to as “Dilma”) joined this small yet growing group of women when she was elected the first female president of Brazil. Dilma's victory was no surprise since she had the support of the very popular outgoing president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. Nevertheless, the fact that Dilma is a woman is noteworthy given that Brazil's political system is overwhelmingly male dominated at all levels of government (Araújo 2010; Bohns 2007; Miguel 2008). Dilma's significance also stems from the fact that, unlike most women national leaders around the world, she occupies a relatively strong presidency, gained office through popular election, and lacked family ties to power (Jalalzai 2013).

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