Giberti E. La ciudadanía y las mujeres [Citizenship and women]. Boletín SaluCo [Bulletin SaluCo] (Havana, Cuba) 2002; 1.

Objectives: To analyze the concept of citizenship in relation to the rights of women.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: The idea of citizenship for women arose within patriarchal societies that legitimized and legalized the functioning of social organizations and institutional practices which maintained the subordination of women.

The concept of citizenship emerging from the French Revolution excluded women, even though women fought alongside men. This concept acquired new meanings during the workers’ struggles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the domains of public and private life were also reformulated. This development occurred in Europe and was extended to the United States through the philosophic and political discussions about democracy and its relationship to economic life, as regulated by capitalism.

Feminist groups managed to establish, as a matter of daily life, the association between citizenship and human rights. This development occurred with varying intensity in different countries.

To speak of citizenship implies passing into, and assigning new meanings to, areas of power. In contrast to what happened with men, women’s citizenship did not appear as something that came to life as the given product of a particular nation. For women, it was necessary to establish the concept of citizenship as an epistemologically recognizable object and also to make evident the history of concealments and denials of this right--a development that took place at numerous junctures, such as the French Revolution and the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The concept of citizenship is not uniform. Regarding citizenship and women, variability derives from the history of gender, the persistence ofmachismo, resistance to extend citizenship and its rights into an institutional domain, and conscious and unconscious complicity of women who say, “the issue doesn’t matter,” or who are ignorant about it. Women’s consciousness about “being a citizen” leads them to make changes in their domestic organization as well as the condition of women’s work. Citizenship involves the attainment of autonomy, which does not mean individualism at all costs, but rather an emphasis on self-determination in decision making, which in turn requires a capacity for critical thinking and commitment to participate in the community.

Conclusions: Citizenship is no longer sustained exclusively on the basis of juridical support associated with claims pertaining to the exercise of rights. It also involves a matrix of social, political, economic, and psychological constructs within both historical and geographical contexts.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico