Mexican women made historic strides last year in securing seats in the country’s national legislature, where they account for more than 36 percent of the membership. But political parties are still struggling to realize similar gains at the state level where just 6.1 percent of the nation’s 2,400 municipal presidents are women.
One development that helped move women ahead at the national level was a successful campaign to promote enforcement of a provision in the federal election code that designates 2 percent of federal political party funding for women’s leadership training. Many parties had been ignoring the requirement and instead using the earmarked funds for expenses like cleaning services and party supplies.
Women now are working on campaigns to establish similar rules at the state level—where the new federal regulations do not apply—using many of the techniques that brought them national level success.
The national level campaign began with a coalition of women from all of Mexico’s major political parties, civic activists, the National Institute for Women (Instituto Nacional de Mujeres, INMUJERES) and academics called “2% and More Women in Politics.”
NDI helped the group develop a message and a media strategy, create a social media presence and circulate an online petition calling for passage of reforms by Mexico’s federal election commission, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). The reforms set clear guidelines for how parties could and could not spend their training funds, and required parties to submit a plan annually to the IFE for how they planned to spend the money designated for programs to empower women political leaders. The reforms were unanimously approved in July 2011, and the July 1, 2012, elections saw historic gains for women’s representation in national politics, with 183 seats in the 500-seat national legislature going to women candidates—a 5.4 percent increase from the previous election.
Following this achievement on the national level, NDI and the National Institute for Women developed a toolkit, 2% and More Women in Politics: An Advocacy Experience to Share, with a detailed guide on how to organize an advocacy campaign. The guide included information on current legislation as well as advocacy techniques developed by the 2% coalition.
NDI is using the advocacy guide to help local groups recreate the national success for women at the state level. INMUJERES and NDI presented the guide at the 4th Colloquium on Women in Politics, an annual forum on gender equality, in Mexico City Oct. 19. There were 173 participants, including 152 women, representing political parties, civil society organizations, government officials, legislators, electoral authorities, academics and international organizations. Then they set to work to educate activists from different states on how to carry out an advocacy campaign that promotes changes in the way political parties use state resources.
The state of Sinaloa has a 5 percent earmark for state political party funding for women’s training, but as on the federal level, the rule has been largely ignored. The 2% guide was presented in Sinaloa on Nov. 7, where the president of the State Electoral Council (CEE), Juliana Araujo, publicly pledged to propose new regulations for state political party funding for women similar to the reforms that had been passed at the federal level. The launch was followed by a day-long session for participants to learn about advocacy tools and develop an advocacy plan. In early December, following implementation of the advocacy plan, the CEE unanimously approved reforms for monitoring implementation of the state’s 5 percent rule. With the earmark enforced, Sinaloa has the highest percentage of political party funding for women of any state in the country.
On Dec. 5, NDI launched the 2% guide in the state of Puebla, which has no laws designating state funding to train women. The guide was launched in collaboration with the Puebla Women's Institute, the Puebla electoral authority and the Commission for Gender Equity of the Puebla state Congress, with 158 people, included 141 women, in attendance, and was followed by a day-long advocacy planning session. The coalition’s goal is to secure an earmark for state political party funding for women, as well as regulations for monitoring its use.
NDI has also been invited to present the advocacy toolkit and educate activists in the state of Quintana Roo by the state’s Women’s Institute. The Institute plans to launch the toolkit there early this year.
The 2% coalition is continuing to work with the IFE to help monitor enforcement of the new federal reform guidelines.
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