Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Kate Centellas

Relational Format



The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and women in Chile, as well as how this relationship might be influenced by the authoritarian regime under Augusto Pinochet from 1973-1990. Chile is known as one of the most Catholic and conservative countries in Latin America, and is considered a late female mobilization state that has just recently legalized divorce and has not legalized abortion. The Church played a pivotal role in the defeat of the dictatorship and continues to influence the country's society, culture, and politics. Even as women have entered the public sphere in the past few decades, intense machismo (or sexism) is still strongly at play and has led to a number of femicides that have sparked women's movements across the nation. The study utilizes empirical research conducted in Valparaíso, Chile, and builds an ethnographic analysis to answer the research question: What relationship, if any, exists between the modern Catholic Church and female mobilization today in Chile, and how has the Church's relationship with Pinochet's regime influenced that potential relationship? The paper suggest ways in which the Catholic Church can speak to, aid, and empower women in Chile fighting against femicide and other gender equality issues. The relationships between these three variables, the Church, women, and dictatorship, may be indicative of the country's future for the Catholic Church, women, and democracy.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

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