Women’s Citizenship in Peru. The Paradoxes of Neopopulism in Latin America


Neopopulism is a central issue to understand women’s citizenship construction in many countries of contemporary Latin America. As a specific type of political rule based on an unmediated appeal by a powerful state leader to the masses, neopopulism provides both constraints and opportunities for women’s organizations to advance their claims. In Peru, President Alberto Fujimori’s neopopulist politics (1990-2000) relied on a gendered set of strategies and policies that are analyzed in relation to three different sectors of the women’s movement. The findings illustrate that some of the organized women that were most directly mobilized by Fujimori (the poorest) were also those who lost the most during his decade-long rule, while other women in NGOs and parties made more substantial gains. This is the first book-length case study of the gender dimensions of populism that explains the paradoxes entailed for women’s participation and citizenship rights in Latin America.


“In Women’s Citizenship in Peru, Stéphanie Rousseau: art41] has made an original and important contribution to the study of Third Wave Democratization in Latin America. She brings political theory and gender analysis to the understanding of Peruvian neo-populism and analyzes its implications for women’s rights and citizenship. Essential reading for students of Latin America, gender studies, and comparative politics.”

Maxine Molyneux, Professor of Sociology, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London

“Studies of populism in contemporary Latin America have rarely explored the role of gender in the relationships forged between leaders and mass constituencies. Rousseau helps correct this oversight in her penetrating analysis of women’s movements and their contradictory relationships with the Fujimori regime in Peru. The work demonstrates how diverse feminist and community-based women’s groups struggled to advance gendered citizenship rights and meet consumption needs, at the same time that the Fujimori regime sought to co-opt these groups and undermine their political autonomy. This study is a major contribution to scholarly understanding of the opportunities and challenges encountered by women’s movements that seek to strengthen democratic citizenship in Latin America today.”

–Kenneth Roberts, Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University

Table of Contents


Women’s citizenship and neopopulism in Latin America

Fujimori’s Peru: State and society

Feminist activism: Engendering state policy through NGO work

Women organizing in shantytowns: State cooptation and the exhaustion of solidarity

Entering the mainstream political sphere: Women as elected representatives

Conclusion: The paradoxes of constructing women’s citizenship under neopopulism

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