Former Chilean president to teach CLAS seminar

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’ newly-named undersecretary general for women’s rights and the former president of Chile, will teach a special seminar at the University of California, Berkeley, on democratic governance, development and global women’s rights, officials at UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) announced today (Wednesday, Feb. 16).

In the four-session seminar, which begins Friday, Feb. 18, Bachelet will reflect on the key issues she faced while governing Chile and the challenges she is confronting in her new position at the United Nations.

Dates for the remaining seminar sessions are being determined. The seminar will be attended by undergraduate and graduate students, as well as by some faculty.

The seminar will mark Bachelet’s third visit to UC Berkeley in the past four years.

One of the most respected political leaders in Latin America, Bachelet left office in 2010 with a more than 80 percent approval rating that was attributed by many to her commitment to progressive social programs and her adept handling of Chile’s 2008 financial crisis.

Since leaving office, Bachelet was named head of the U.N.’s new Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, where she is overseeing the U.N.’s efforts to formulate and implement global policies promoting gender equity.

“Michelle Bachelet is an exceptional political leader and a remarkable person,” said Harley Shaiken, a UC Berkeley professor and chair of CLAS. “She reflects the values of UC Berkeley, and we are honored to have her as part of this community.”

Trained as a medical doctor, Bachelet began her career as a pediatrician and public health specialist. The daughter of a general who died in prison in the aftermath of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup, she was appointed by President Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) as minister of health and later minister of defense. She was elected president of Chile in 2006.

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