The FT’s 25 most influential women of 2021 — Elisa Loncón Antileo: President, Chile’s Constitutional Convention

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Elisa Loncón Antileo: President, Chile’s Constitutional Convention by Kirsten Sehnbruch on December 2, 2021 for the Financial Times

“When the Chilean electorate voted for a constituent assembly in May this year, 60 per cent of the seats went to independent candidates not affiliated to political parties. The task facing the assembly, of writing a new constitution to replace the one written during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, was never going to be easy. But it is particularly difficult after a long period of political turmoil and social protests, in which the establishment was effectively voted out of the process.

In this complex situation, Elisa Loncón Antileo was elected president of the constituent assembly. Her election was nothing short of remarkable. An indigenous woman from a remote Mapuche community in the south of Chile now presided over one of the most important and complex tasks in recent Chilean history.

She has exercised this leadership with an emphasis on the inclusive nature of the assembly and its role as a means of channelling social dialogue.

Her challenges included setting up the working procedures and agenda of the assembly as well as managing the competing demands of the groups represented there. But she has brought a calm, grounded leadership to the task, and has generally avoided becoming involved in the polarising conflicts surrounding her.”