New Constitution for Bolivia Means New Reality for Women and Girls

this year, the new Bolivian Constitution entered into force, after a
process that lasted more than two years. At a referendum held on
January 25th, 61% of Bolivans  approved the new Constitution, which for the first time dedicates a chapter to women’s rights.

The new Constitution contains several clauses that uphold the health and rights of women including:

  • a clear separation between State and Church
  • the entitlement to sexual and reproductive rights for men and women
  • the
    right to life not limited by the expression "starting at conception,"
    which was proposed by conservative groups and would outlaw abortion in
    the country
  • the right to physical, psychological and sexual integrity
  • the right of women to live free from discrimination, violence, sexual coercion and emotional abuse
  • a provision that guarantees pay equality for women and women
  • the economic value of women’s work in the home as a source of wealth
  • the right of women, married or unmarried, to land ownership.


new text is a victory for the Bolivian women’s movement, including my
organization Catholics for the Right to Decide Bolivia, which started
working together towards a new constitution even before the Constituent
process started. Women’s groups identified the most controversial
topics and developed a strategy on how to place them in the public
debate. One of the first decisions was to educate leaders about the
importance of the Secular State, which lays the groundwork for ensuring
sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America.

Latin America, a powerful force for change is the rising activism of
indigenous peoples, which helped elect our first indigenous President,
Evo Morales.  Often doubly marginalized,
indigenous women suffer from extremely poor reproductive health and
extensive violations of their sexual rights.  Nevertheless, the connections between indigenous leaders and the women’s movement was not very strong in the country yet.  For that reason, during the Constituent process, some
indigenous leaders saw a dichotomy between collective rights, endorsed
by indigenous peoples, and individual rights, such as many women’s
human rights. By respecting our  the view of
indigenous leaders and carrying out deep discussions, we succeeded in
finding common ground to ensure that individual and collective rights  have their place in the new Constitution.

during the Constituent process was very challenging. First of all, the
Constituent process took place during a time of mounting political
conflicts between the President’s Party and the opposition, which
governs rich states in Bolivia. The divide in the country often ended
up in violence and even death. Also, women’s advocates were
particularly targeted by conservative groups, including through
threats, insults, and physical aggression during formal sessions that
discussed the right to life.  

The new Constitution lays the groundwork to ensure that all Bolivian women have the right to freedom and to make decisions about their own bodies. This victory
keeps our dreams alive. We will continue working towards a world of
equality and equity, a world without violence, discrimination and

and Congress will now start issuing norms regulating the implementation
of the Constitution. Catholics for the Right to Decide Bolivia will
continue working in collaboration with other women’s organizations to
ensure that these norms respond to the interests of women and girls.

This post first appeared on Akimbo.

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  • invalid-0

    I heard the Catholic Church was working overtime to have the pro-woman language removed. I’m glad to hear that they failed, and that women and girls will benefit from a truly modern, progressive constitution in years to come.

  • invalid-0

    The right to freedom is vital to a human. I think it is great that this question is raised in the society!

  • invalid-0

    I think it is great that this question is raised in the society!

  • invalid-0


    I’m conducting feminist research on how American foreign policy affects popular support for terrorism. I’m particularly interested in incorporating the views of women, non-whites, and people living outside of America and Western Europe, but all responses are invited and welcome. The survey can be accessed at

    I would really value your opinion and the opinion of your readers and friends in Bolivia.

    Thank you,

    John Maszka

  • invalid-0

    The New Constitution of Bolivia enacted by President Evo Morales Ayma – English Version – Available June 26th, 2009.

  • invalid-0

    In Bolivia in the city of Santa Cruz the man has no right to make love simultaneously with the woman and her daughter. There is at them such bad law…

    And though still too early to estimate to the full, how wastefulness of last years will affect human rights, however it is already clear, that consequences of an economic crisis and a damage which it will put to human rights, are great. It is necessary to expand and support possibilities of people on reception of formation and medical services; to eradicate discrimination; to strengthen the rights of women; to establish general standards and to create mechanisms on attraction of corporations to responsibility for infringements of human rights. At us in Grenoble with equality of women of business are much better than in other world…

    Certainly, in Bolivia about equality can dream only, but it is necessary to begin already today…

  • invalid-0

    The right to freedom is vital to a human. I think it is great that this question is raised in the society!

  • invalid-0

    Participate in discussions of the articles of the new Bolivian Constitution enacted by President Evo Morales Ayma, in English. Visit