SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced Tuesday that she will sent to Parliament a bill on a new constitution before March 11, the date her mandate ends.
“There are many areas where we still must continue advancing and, certainly, before I end my term in government I’m going to send the new constitutional bill (to Parliament),” said Bachelet at the inauguration of an international business forum on gender equality.
The event was the first that Bachelet has attended since returning from an official visit to Japan, the last foreign trip of her presidency, which will end on March when she turns over the reins of power to conservative President-elect Sebastian Piñera.
She added that there is “a group of constitutionalists seeing if – regarding the Constitution – we can create some indication to show that women and men have the right to equal work, equal pay.”
The business forum is being organized by UN Women and the UN Development Program.
“Thirteen days remain to our mandate and we’re continuing to work at full speed,” said Bachelet, who in her speech backed “clear public policies to deal with barriers to access, entry and advancement” for women in the workforce.
She also said that when she ends her second presidential term she will leave Chileans with a “better country, in which many people’s lives have been changed, above all people in humble circumstances.”
The drafting of a new constitution for Chile was one of Bachelet’s promises for her second term and in January 2017 she received an 850-page preliminary document prepared with input from more than 204,000 people at citizen councils around the country.
Last April, Bachelet signed a bill establishing a Constitutional Convention, which must still be approved by Parliament, to draft the new constitution.
Debate on the new national charter – which will replace the current 1980 document imposed under the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, although it was somewhat modified under the 2000-2006 government of socialist Ricardo Lagos – will commence in Parliament on March 11, when the newly elected legislators will take office, but where no political bloc holds a majority.