This article highlights a number of themes useful in the gendered analysis of democratic consolidation in Latin America by means of a comparative analysis of Argentina and Chile. It starts from the assumption that much of the work on democratisation in Latin America – both orthodox and the literature concentrating on women and transitions – produced up until now, has been too voluntaristic in its approach. It argues that what is needed, particularly in the study of democratic consolidation, is an analysis not only of the impact of women and women's organisations on institutions and structures but also of how these institutions and structures can shape and change gender relations and different women's activities. Any gendered analysis of democratic consolidation must begin by examining the terms of transition which, while they can be subject to some renegotiation later, affect the nature of the subsequent system and the space available to different actors. It is argued that a number of characteristics of the post-transition system are significant: first the impact of more arbitrary populist or presidential systems, second the importance of women's organising both inside and outside the state and party systems and third the existence of an institutionalised party system.