How macho Mexico obtained a feminine president earlier than the U.S. | EUROtoday

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico is legendary for its macho tradition. Women right here didn’t win the appropriate to vote for president till 1953 — three many years after their U.S. counterparts. As lately as 9 years in the past, there wasn’t a single feminine state governor.

Yet Mexico has simply elected its first feminine president, Claudia Sheinbaum, in what was primarily a race between two ladies engineers. With 88 p.c of the ballots counted Monday, Sheinbaum had 59 p.c of the vote; Xóchitl Gálvez, her closest rival, had 28 p.c.

As the United States gears up for an additional two-man contest for the presidency — Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump — Mexico is eclipsing its northern neighbor on gender parity in authorities.

Today, ladies maintain half the seats in Mexico’s legislature — roughly double the proportion within the U.S. Congress. Women lead Mexico’s Supreme Court and central financial institution. While the United States has a report 12 feminine governors, Mexico will quickly have 13, together with three who gained election Sunday.

Female politicians and activists lobbied for years to pressure events to set quotas for feminine candidates. As in different components of Latin America, when a wave of authoritarian governments crumbled within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, activists offered the concept that actual democracy meant equal participation for girls.

So many senior positions in authorities listed here are held by ladies that gender wasn’t an enormous matter within the presidential race. There was, after all, recognition of the historic nature of the marketing campaign. Sheinbaum’s slogans included “It’s time for women”; Gálvez proclaimed she had the “ovaries” to tackle organized crime. Yet there was nothing just like the sense of anticipation that accompanied Hillary Clinton’s presidential run in 2016.

“For most of the population, the gender theme isn’t all that important in and of itself,” stated Lorena Becerra, a distinguished pollster. “We had already internalized the idea that the next president would be a woman.”

How Mexican ladies led a political revolution

Mexico’s present president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, set a precedent in 2000 when he grew to become mayor of Mexico City: The cupboard he appointed was half-male, half-female. He invited Sheinbaum, an environmental engineer, to be his surroundings secretary.

It was the beginning of an period of huge positive aspects for girls in politics.

Mexico was rewriting its election legal guidelines because it transitioned from a one-party state to a democracy. A coalition of feminine politicians, activists, legal professionals and teachers pressed the Congress to undertake quotas for feminine congressional candidates. They had been first set at 30 p.c, then 40, then 50.

In 2019, Mexico handed a sweeping constitutional modification establishing “parity in everything” — candidacies for all elected places of work, and prime jobs within the govt and judicial branches.

Not a single member of Congress voted towards it. Female politicians had painted males who opposed affirmative-action measures as dinosaurs. It grew to become too pricey, politically, to oppose such initiatives.

By the time the modification was handed, López Obrador was president, and Sheinbaum, his protégé, had turn into mayor of Mexico City herself.

“The gender quotas and parity amendment form a really important context where women’s political participation is normalized, and where parties are forced to think about and value women as candidates,” stated Jennifer Piscopo, a professor of gender and politics at Royal Holloway University of London.

But passing legal guidelines wasn’t sufficient. During the democratic transition, Mexico established sturdy establishments to interpret and implement electoral legal guidelines. The National Electoral Institute bird-dogged events to make sure they ran an equal variety of feminine candidates. Politicians who made sexist feedback about feminine rivals might be stripped of the appropriate to run themselves.

“The story of implementation is really important,” stated Piscopo. The United States, in distinction, doesn’t have a comparable federal equipment for elections, that are overseen principally by native authorities.

Sheinbaum was first seen as Lopez Obrador's protégé

Sheinbaum’s gender hasn’t attracted a lot fanfare partially as a result of her political profession has developed in López Obrador’s shadow. During the marketing campaign, the low-key Sheinbaum emphasised that she would proceed the insurance policies of the favored chief.

“What weighs more here is her loyalty, her closeness to him, the fact that he has absolute trust in her, rather than that she’s a woman,” stated Carlos Heredia, an economist and political analyst.

Neither Sheinbaum nor Gálvez centered their platforms on ladies’s points.

Consuelo Bañuelos, a human rights activist within the state of Nuevo Leon, stated the candidates didn’t wish to provoke unease in a society nonetheless permeated with machismo.

“The word ‘inclusion’ is scary. The phrase ‘gender perspective’ is scary. The word ‘gender’ is scary,” she stated. “So why ruffle feathers if it’s not necessary?”

Becerra, the pollster, stated voters nonetheless decide feminine candidates otherwise than they do males. About 25 p.c of voters surveyed through the presidential marketing campaign, for instance, stated it might be tougher for a girl to handle issues of safety or organized crime. There was virtually no distinction on points like well being or the financial system.

But it was troublesome to gauge whether or not Sheinbaum’s gender helped or harm her within the election as a result of her prime competitor was additionally feminine. The lone man within the race, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, the candidate of a small center-left get together, had 11 p.c of the vote.

Feminists criticize Sheinbaum on ladies’s points

While feminists had been thrilled by the prospect that Mexico would elect a feminine president, some say Sheinbaum has accomplished little to advance ladies’s points.

As mayor, she criticized huge demonstrations in 2019 to protest violence towards ladies, after some members shattered home windows and scrawled graffiti on monuments. She did, nevertheless, pledge to make lowering femicides extra of a precedence.

In 2021, a gaggle of girls took over a serious Mexico City visitors circle, erecting a statue of a woman together with her fist raised. They rebaptized the positioning “the Plaza of the Women Who Fight,” in honor of the activists battling femicides and looking for the tens of hundreds of victims of compelled disappearance.

Sheinbaum opposed their effort and tried unsuccessfully to put in a much less politically charged statue honoring Indigenous ladies.

“She handled that incident with clumsiness, with absolute rejection, with a direct attack on us,” stated Marcela Guerrero, one of many activists who positioned the statue. “We don’t see a hopeful future.”

Although López Obrador emerged from the left, he had a tense relationship with feminists, charging that their protests had been infiltrated by his conservative opponents. He outraged feminists by defending an ally operating for governor of Guerrero state, Félix Salgado Macedonio, after it was alleged that he’d sexually assaulted ladies. (Salgado Macedonio denied the allegations; he was ultimately disqualified due to marketing campaign finance violations.)

Sabina Berman, a author and feminist who helps López Obrador’s Morena get together, stated he was gradual at first to know the significance of the ladies’s motion. But in backing Sheinbaum as his get together’s presidential candidate, she stated, he confirmed how he had modified.

“As a consequence, the opposition realized that gender mattered in this election, that it was a decisive element,” she stated. “And so they looked for a female candidate as well.”

Berman hopes Sheinbaum’s election can be a turning level.

“In every household, in every classroom across the country, the idea that a woman exists to serve and please a man is going to crumble,” she stated.

Ríos reported from Monterrey, Mexico. Paulina Villegas in Mexico City contributed to this report.