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TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZING ON LOCAL FEMINIST DISCOURSES AND PRACTICES IN LATIN AMERICA Sonia E. Alvarez (*) Introduction International activism has been a defining feature of both first- and second-wave feminisms in Latin America and most other world regions. 1 From the onset of the contemporary wave, periodic Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros (region- wide feminist meetings, literally “encounters”) helped forge a self-consciously regional feminist political identity, affirming a feminism distinct from its putatively bourgeois, imperialist North American and European variants. 2 By the early 1990s, the bonds of solidarity created and strategic issues debated at these periodic gatherings had facilitated the emergence of dozens of region-wide issue- or identity-based feminist networks—such as the Latin American and Caribbean Network against Violence against Women and the Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Network. The 1990s witnessed the ascendance of a new form of international activism among growing numbers of feminists in the region—one targeting inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) and international policy arenas and thereby hoping to gain global leverage in pressuring for changes in gender policy on the home front. The UN Summits held during the first half of the 1990s—culminating with the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in Beijing in 1995—prompted thousands of women’s rights advocates in Latin America and around the globe to intensify their transnational organizing efforts and catapulted feminism onto the regional and world policy stages. Seeking to influence the international norms and accords forged at these inter-governmental meetings, feminist activists fashioned new transnational advocacy networks and fortified pre-existing linkages with their counterparts across national borders. Women’s rights advocates’ heightened participation in international policy arenas is now fairly well documented 3 and global feminisms’ efficacy in promoting changes in gender- related policy at the international and national levels has been subjected to considerable (*) Sonia E. Alvarez, Associate Professor of Politics, University of California Santa Cruz, Ph.D., Yale University, 1984. Bolsista da Fundação Fulbright na UFSC. 1 On first-wave feminist international activism, see especially Miller 1990 and 1991; Rupp 1997; Waterman 1998; Keck and Sikkink 1998a, chapter 2. 2 On the Encuentros, see Navarro 1982; Sternbach et al. 1992; Fischer 1993; Stephen 1997; Beckman 1998; Craske 1999; Olea Mauleón 1998. 3 See Peters and Wolper 1994; Friedman 1994; Chen 1996; Vargas 1998; West 1999; Tinker 1999; Higer 1999; Meyer 1999. PPGSP/UFSC, Cadernos de Pesquisa, nº 22, Outubro 2000
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