Panel: Gender Politics and Policies in Latin America Today
Paper: The Representation of Women’s Interests in the Puerto Rican Legislature 1992-2012:
Juhem Navarro-Rivera, Public Religion Research Institute;
Yazmin Argentina García Trejo, University of Connecticut
Despite producing hundreds of laws and regulations every year, the Puerto Rican legislature has been an understudied institution in the Puerto Rican politics scholarship (Cámara Fuertes 2009). This paper explores the lawmaking process and aspects of descriptive and substantive representation in the Puerto Rico legislature, specifically on policies affecting women (Thomas 1991; Schwindt-Bayer and Mishler 2005; Childs and Krook 2009). Starting in the 1990s the legislature passed several laws aimed at social equality and protection, particularly in the area of domestic violence, which is, to this day a major problem in Puerto Rico. We use an original dataset to analyze introduction of bills over twenty years starting in 1992 related to reproductive rights and health, family, and workplace equality. We then classify these bills depending on how far in the legislative process they moved (e.g. referred to committee, passed in the chamber but vetoed by the governor, or signed into law). We expect that committees and subcommittees led by female legislators will be more receptive to move bills forward (to a final vote in the floor) than committees and subcommittees led by male legislators. Moreover, we expect to find that female legislators, regardless of political party, are more likely to introduce legislation regarding gender-related issues.