South America

Women's Soccer League Restructured.  [Venezuela] Venezuela's National Women's Football League (LNFF) will restructure its current system and have two categories, a superior one and a promotional one, the organization told local media on Friday.  The new format was agreed at the third LNFF meeting this Friday in Caracas, which is trying to find ways to boost women's football in Venezuela.  Laureano Gonzalez, LNFF coordinator general, said that the first contest structured in this way would take place on Feb. 18.  Rafael Almarza, Venezuela's national football director, said that he wants to consolidate men's, women's, junior and adult football under one roof.
Women Gain, But Sexism Persists.  [Latin America] Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet embodies the rise of women into Latin American power circles, but in a region known for sexism women still face offenses ranging from macho slights to assault, even by their husbands.  Bachelet's election last month as the first woman president of her socially conservative country was seen as a major step toward making women equal political players and empowering female leaders across the hemisphere, such as presidential candidate Lourdes Flores in Peru.  Education and changing beliefs, largely among women themselves, have helped them win ground in politics, business and other areas.  But great gaps remain, especially for the poor.  "For Latin machismo, and I say this as a man, (Bachelet's election) is an important symbol," Norberto Consani, director of the institute of international relations at Argentina's Universidad Nacional de la Plata.  "A woman president was unthinkable. It's an important opening, although there is a long way to go," he said.   In Latin America more women are entering the labor force than in any other region, but many work for low salaries or for nothing on family farms or in businesses.