The last elections in Mexico left for history the first Congress with almost the same number of men and women. The balance in numbers, however, is not translating into the equity of power in the legislature. Some deputies and senators have denounced in recent days that the new Congress continues to reserve decision-making spaces for men and relegating women to the background. The first indication has been in the appointment of the leaders of the political parties in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate: all have opted for men.
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies is made up of 500 legislators and after the elections of July 1, the distribution has been almost equal: 241 women and 259 men. In the case of the Senate, of the 128 legislators that comprise it, 63 are women and 65 are men. This has been the result of the last political reform of 2014 that forced political parties to present 50% of their candidacies headed by women. With the selection of the leaders of the benches of each political party, the Political Coordination Board – the body of the Legislative Power that decides what are the issues that will be addressed in the legislature – has been totally in the hands of men. The diversity in both Chambers has not reached their directives either: the presidents will be Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, for Deputies and Martí Batres, for the Senate.
“There is symbolic political violence of non-recognition of the role of women in Congress. In addition, I do not see a questioning on the part of legislators and political parties. Some of the legislators have more developed political trajectories than even some coordinators of banks ”, points out Ana Joaquina Ruiz, researcher at the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute. Ruiz points out that Mexican laws to ensure parity in Congress have worked, but that this has not forced legislators to act internally with equity. “There is a recognition that [las mujeres] we are half the population, but the real distribution of power is lacking ”, he explains.
Deputy Martha Tagle, from the Citizen Movement, has expressed her concern at a situation that leaves the decisions of the Legislative Power only in the hands of men. “The political parties do not consider that they have a job of distributing work between men and women. They think that [las mujeres] We did not arrive on our own merit and that we do it without the skills to do legislative work, ”he denounces. Tagle has worked in the Parliament of Mexico City, was a senator during the Peña Nieto government and will serve as a deputy for the next three years.
Tagle has acknowledged that public pressure in recent days –– mainly due to the effect of social networks with the labels #NoSinLegisladoras and # NoSinMujeres–– has won some deputies places on the board of directors of the Chamber of Deputies. The next step is the commissions within the two chambers, which will be selected in the coming days. “It is always expected that the deputies and senators are in the committees on what they call ‘women’s issues’, which can be culture, indigenous peoples, sports, among others,” explains Ruiz, from the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute.
Deputy Tagle recalls that during her time in the Mexican Senate it was unusual for a woman to head commissions such as Justice, Finance or the Interior. “Only 30% of the commissions were for women,” he explains. In addition, it points out that the entry of more women into the Upper House was due to several senators requesting permission to assume other positions and leaving their female alternates as legislators. “Men are not used to negotiating with women. They even negotiate women’s spaces through other men ”, he summarizes about the environment in the Mexican Congress.
The low representation of women has also been notable in the cabinet of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Currently only four women have a portfolio within the 30 positions that exist in the legal and expanded cabinet. The assignments with which they fulfill are focused on Culture, Social Development, Public Function and Inmujeres. López Obrador has promised that he will designate more portfolios to women and has proposed the jurist Olga Sánchez Cordero as Secretary of the Interior. A week ago, the president-elect introduced what will be his circle of confidence in the presidency: seven men.
According to data from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, of all the municipalities in Mexico only 12% have female mayors in charge and in the Judicial Power only 20% are judges. The composition of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) corresponds to two ministers out of a total of 11 magistrates. Of the 32 states in which the country is divided, only one is headed by a governor: Claudia Pavlovich, from Sonora (northern Mexico). The results of the last elections will add two more in the coming months: Claudia Sheinbaum, from Mexico City, and Martha Erika Alonso, from Puebla. The OECD points out that in Mexico 48.73% of public servants are women, however when it comes to the central government the proportion decreases to 36.81%. The figures for the inclusion of women in the political life of the country decrease the higher the position to which they aspire.
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