- The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina from Roca to Perón by Gregory Hammond
At a time when Argentina just reelected its female president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with more than 53 percent of the vote, the highest percentage of any president since Juan Perón’s reelection in 1973, it is appropriate that the first book dedicated to the campaign for female suffrage in Argentina from its origins to its passage has appeared in print. It has as its supposition, as is true with many women’s suffrage histories, that getting the vote solved the problems of women in politics, something that has rarely been confirmed historically. And even though Hammond offers the history of this campaign specifically from the primary sources of certain women’s groups in Argentina, he offers no other interpretations of how changing economic and social conditions affected women and suffrage, nor of the extensive writings of specialists in Argentina and in the United States and Europe.
This is a history, as it were, from the actors themselves. The chapters tend to over focus on the significance of the National Council of Women, a group initially feminist and increasing anti-feminist, and under focuses on the [End Page 238] Socialist and Peronist women. The author knows where these people, both male and female, published, but chose not to read the materials. It is clear that Hammond relies so much on the sources he obtained, that the commentaries of other specialists become unnecessary, although some appear in the bibliography. There is no engagement with Asunción Lavrin, whose massive work on feminism in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile set the standard of not only reading feminist documents but also analyzed patterns of women’s work, the debates about prostitution, reproduction, law, and the family, as well as the critical recent works of Sandra McGee Deutsch, my own work on the role of Juan Perón who enticed some traditional feminists to work for suffrage under their own agency in his government, and Adriana María Valobra, who began publishing in 2005 on the reactions of political parties to suffrage and the role of the Peronist Women’s Party in getting women not only to register to vote, but also run for office. These last works show how Eva’s party really cemented the reality of suffrage and built it into the scaffolding of party politics, something that expanded measurably under the administration of Peronist Carlos Saúl Menem (1989–1999) with the quota system that set the stage for the current Peronist victories for women.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement and feminism in Argentina from Roca to Perón provides a wealth of information about some of the participants in the battle for suffrage in Argentina and is told as a narrative with few hypotheses. This book might be useful in a course on comparative suffrage histories, but most teachers of women’s and gender history also incorporate the historiographical controversies generated by a topic, and only on the question of provincial suffrage in San Juan does the author present such information.