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How Do We Know Mexico’s Next President Will Be a Woman and Why Does That Matter?

May 20, 20243:22

Acting Director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute Lila Abed joins us to discuss the importance of the country's upcoming elections. Want to learn more? Read the Mexico Institute's Elections Guide, and find more expert analysis

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    The two major political coalitions have designated female candidates ahead of Mexico's largest election in its history, which will be held on June 2nd. The ruling party's coalition has chosen former Mexico City mayor and environmental scientist Claudia Sheinbaum and the opposition coalition made up of the three traditional political parties have elected. Tech entrepreneur and former Senator Xóchitl Gálvez as its presidential candidate.

    The prospect of Mexico having its first female head of state is undeniably a positive milestone and a true testament to women's past efforts to acquire more power in the country's political system. In 1953, Mexican women were granted the right to vote in the mid 1990s. Legislative reforms increased the minimum female representation in Congress from 15% in 1996 to 40% by 2008.

    The 2014 political reform went even further and included a constitutional amendment that required that 50% of candidates must be women for both local and federal legislative elections. In the 2021 midterm election, women ran for governor in seven states and six of them won. Prior to this midterm election, only nine women in Mexican history had attained gubernatorial positions. Of the 11 justices in Mexico's Supreme Court, four are currently women.

    In fact, Mexico has the fourth highest proportion of women elected to national legislatures in the world. While Mexican women have had an increasing involvement in the legislative and judicial branches, as previously mentioned, it is vital that they also obtain influential positions in the executive branch. While it is also not the first time that women have been chosen as presidential candidates, there actually have been six female presidential candidates in past electoral cycles.

    It is the first time that two women are leading the presidential race in Mexico. Both Shamim and Gálvez have a long trajectory in public service, but ironically, they both came to power in the shadows of prominent male politicians. A stark reminder that machismo remains entrenched in Mexico's history. Despite who wins the election. Mexico's next and first female president will inherit a country plagued with soaring levels of violence against women, disappear, incest and femicides.

    With around 51% of Mexican women registered to vote, just about above 50%, the upcoming June election will be a unique opportunity for women to really voice their concerns and aspirations at the ballot box. While equal representation has been ensured, power parity, women's empowerment, and women's equity have yet to be guaranteed. While Mexico is poised to elect its first female president, this doesn't necessarily indicate a shift towards a feminist agenda.

    In fact, neither of the leading candidates political platforms have prominently featured feminist policy. Instead, their platforms have largely focused on broader issues such as economic development, security and governance, leaving women's specific concerns and gender equality initiatives largely unaddressed. Hopefully, with a woman leading the country for the next six years, Mexico will make important strides in favor of women's issues.


Lila Abed

Lila Abed

Acting Director, Mexico Institute
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more