On September 23, the Coordinator of the Sociocultural Area of the Chilean Presidency, Irina Karamanos, visited Columbia SIPA to attend an event entitled “Dialogues About Feminism, Politics and Institutional Transformations,” organized by two SIPA student organizations: Women in Leadership and the Latin American Student Association (LASA), along with the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS).
In the conversation, that was moderated by Tinker visiting professor at ILAS, Nora Domínguez, participated about 50 students who gathered with Karamanos to discuss gender, politics, the feminist movement in Chile and Latin America, institutional transformations, and the challenges of her current role as First Lady of Chile, of which she plans to step down in the coming months.
During the event, Karamanos said that she wishes to transform the traditional role she is now in: “I didn’t prepare myself, politically or professionally, to be a First Lady. I am working with a team of political scientists to culturally change the notion of the “first lady,” she stated, adding that: “I have to say this: It has high costs to step into this position in order to change it when you don’t feel identified with the position.” Regarding the involvement of first ladies in governmental issues, Karamanos stressed: “I don’t think first ladies should have much agency in presidential decisions. No one elected me to do that: It’s not fair, it’s not democratic and my partner didn’t choose me because of that.”
The discussion also revolved around the latest wave of feminism that has emerged during the last years. In Karamanos view, “feminism is an underground movement too as well as a public one, and that’s why it has maintained its role in questioning and defying conservatism.”