A month after being elected as Chile’s youngest president, Gabriel Boric, the 35-year-old leftist former student protest leader, has selected a women-majority cabinet.
In a first for the Americas, out of the 24 new ministers appointed on Jan. 21, 14 are women.
Women will lead the ministries of the interior, defense, health, justice, environment, women and gender equality, sports, labor, social development, mining, national goods and more.
With an average age of 49, the new cabinet combines moderates with former student protest leaders, who will take office on March 11.
“This Cabinet’s mission is to lay the foundations for the great reforms that we have proposed in our program,” Boric said after unveiling his cabinet, Reuters reported.
Along with his ministerial team, Boric will aim to drive economic growth and reduce “structural inequalities.”
Dr. Izkia Siches, 35, the former head of National Medical Association, known for her role in leading the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will become the first woman ever to head Chile’s interior ministry.
Camila Vallejo, 33, the former student leader of the University of Chile’s student union, will take on the role as the government’s spokesperson.
The youngest of member of the cabinet, Antonia Orellana, 32, was appointed as the new minister for women and gender equality.
Maisa Rojas, a 49-year-old climate scientist was appointed to take over the ministry of environment, while centrist lawmaker Marcela Hernando, 61, will take charge of the mining sector as Boric looks to focus on climate and environmental protection.
The new sports minister, Alexandra Benado, 45, is a former national team footballer, who also makes history as the first openly lesbian minister in Chile.
“We have put together this group of people who are well-prepared, who have knowledge and experience, who are committed to the program of changes that the country needs, and have the capacity to combine viewpoints, different perspectives and new visions,” Boric said at a ceremony in Santiago, the Guardian reported.
Boric’s election on Dec. 19 comes two years after protests against rising metro fares in Santiago evolved into mass protests against corruption, the cost of living and inequality in the country.
The protests led to a referendum in 2020 to rewrite the constitution, which won by a landslide, with 78% of voters agreeing to draft a new constitution to replace the one that dated back to military rule under former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
“We are a generation that emerged in public life demanding our rights be respected as rights and not treated like consumer goods or a business,” Boric, who was one of the politicians negotiating the agreement that would lead to the referendum, said after his victory. “We no longer will permit that the poor keep paying the price of Chile’s inequality.”
He ran on the promise of tackling poverty and inequality through radical reforms to the free-market economic model that was imposed by Pinochet, which he says led to the inequality and imbalances that triggered the protests.