Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s president, appointed a female prime minister for the first time in Peru’s history. According to the Washington Post, Prime Minister Beatriz Merino, a Harvard educated tax lawyer, has a strategy to raise tax revenue to pay civil servants and end the cycle of strikes and social unrest in Peru. Her appointment came at a time when Toledo’s approval ratings were decreasing tremendously and after his entire cabinet, including former Prime Minister Luis Solari, stepped down from office. According to Agence France Presse, Toledo hopes to win “back the faith and lost hopes of Peruvians.”
Merino served as Senator from 1990-1992 until former President Fujimori disbanded Congress. She also served in Congress from 1995-2000 as a member of the Independent Moralist Front, according to Agence France Presse. Merino was also the director of an Inter-American Bank program that worked for the advancement of Latin American women.
In recent weeks, women’s rights advocates accused Solari and Health Minister Fernando Carbone of attacking women’s reproductive rights. Advocates see Peruvian policies as severely restricting women’s personal choices regarding their reproductive health and rights. One of the new regulations will require health departments to “protect the life and health of all unborn children from their conception, and to register them officially as conceived and [as] the subjects of constitutional rights,” according to Center for Gender Equity. It is unknown at this point if Merino will reverse these restrictive policies.