During the final decade of the twentieth century, the Central American region underwent significant transitions as former guerrilla movements and revolutionary Left organizations became established opposition political parties. Political scientist Ilja A. Luciak argues persuasively that examining the process through the lens of gender can give us important insights into the degree of democratic consolidation that has taken place in three key countries. While his main focus is on El Salvador, he gives ample attention to Nicaragua and Guatemala as well, providing a strong basis for comparison and critique. His firm grounding in socialist and feminist thought is apparent, as he expresses favor for “substantive democratic political systems, based on equality for all citizens regardless of their class, gender, or ethnic background” (p. xii).

Luciak examines formal and substantive democracy and gender equality, with an emphasis on the degree of women’s participation as...

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