Changing Roles of Women in Social Movements – a Case Study of Bolivian Water War and Gas War

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Hiromi MAKITA, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Why did women not play an important role on the Water War in Bolivia? There had been no successful movements in Bolivia until the New Economic Policy was issued in 1985 because Bolivian government had effectively repressed protests on natural resources.  However, Water War (2000), anti-privatization movement of public water sector, drastically changed this situation. Water War further provided a momentum for marginalized people such as women, indigenous people, and farmers to participate in protests, and women came to play significant roles in the Gas War (2000), opposition movement of the export plan of natural gas, which took place right after Water War. Both protests gained successful outcomes.

            However, in spite of similar situations, both protests show different role of women; although Water War was successful and mobilized numerous citizens, the role of women were unmarked, while their significant presence was spotlighted in Gas War. Previous researches have pointed out that vigorous activities of women in Gas War was due to the fact that Bolivian women started to participate in political activities from the 1990s. But why was women’s role prominent in Gas War alone? This paper, in this regard, explains why women could not play an important role in Water War in spite of the similar situation to Gas War.

            This paper hypothesizes that the internal reform of the movement organization in Gas War promoted women’s participation. Leading groups of Gas War made an effort to empower women leaders in the groups according to the Popular Participation Law (1994). I reveal the process of changing policies of movement organization of Gas War by using fieldwork data obtained from 2009 to 2014. By discourse analysis of the statement of organization, I verify how they focus on the women and why women’s leader in Water War could not appear.