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After the Revolution

, 336 pages
September 2001
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After the Revolution

Gender and Democracy in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala

"Gender equality and meaningful democratization are inextricably linked," writes Ilja Luciak. "The democratization of Central America requires the full incorporation of women as voters, candidates, and office holders." In After the Revolution: Gender and Democracy in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, Luciak shows how former guerrilla women in three Central American countries made the transition from insurgents to mainstream political players in the democratization process.

Examining the role of women in the various stages of revolutionary and national politics, Luciak begins with women as participants and leaders in guerrilla movements. Women contributed greatly to the revolutionary struggle in all three countries, but thereafter many similarities ended. In Guatemala, ideological disputes reduced women's political effectiveness at both the intra-party and national levels. In Nicaragua, although women's rights became a secondary issue for the revolutionary party, women were nonetheless able to put the issue on the national agenda. In El Salvador, women took leading roles in the revolutionary party and were able to incorporate women's rights into a broad reform agenda. Luciak cautions that while active measures to advance the political role of women have strengthened formal gender equality, only the joint efforts of both sexes can lead to a successful transformation of society based on democratic governance and substantive gender equality.

Ilja A. Luciak is professor and chair of the department of political science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is the author of The Sandinista Legacy: Lessons from a Political Economy in Transition.

"An important contribution to the study of the democratization processes in Central America from a gender perspective."

"Excellent material—data, documentary analysis, and fascinating interviews—presented clearly and unpolemically. Luciak discusses the democratization of guerrilla movements; the sex/gender distinction and its relevance to women's agendas in the region; the conflict between the neoliberal policies and democratization; the focus of the consolidation literature on political parties and party systems; and the difficulties of internal democratization for these parties. His careful and balanced scholarship provides a substantial contribution to the field and will be greatly appreciated by scholars and students of the region."

"Ilja A. Luciak argues persuasively that examining the [revolutionary] process through the lens of gender can give us important insights into the degree of democratic consolidation that has taken place in three key countries... Whatever lessons we may take from this excellent comparative study, it is very clear that an end to conflict in the Central American region is only the beginning of the process of constructing a just and lasting peace."

"Luciak sets out to provide a balanced assessment of the revolutionary Left's record on gender equality in the years after former guerilla movements were transformed into political parties... Luciak's study confirms the persistence of patriarchy in the revolutionary and postrevolutionary politics of Central America."

"This is a book not to be missed by anyone with an interest in transitions from revolution to democratic consolidation."

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