This year marks Mexico’s 60th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and though the country has made progress in passing reforms to increase women’s political participation, women are still not well-represented in decision-making bodies.
Mexico has a 60/40 quota that requires that 40 percent of the candidates political parties designate to run for parliament have to be women. It also requires that parties spend 2 percent of the funds they get from the federal government on women’s leadership training. But women often face bias, both at the polls and within their parties.
Parties spend less on women candidates, and women that are elected often don’t get key legislative committee assignments. Instead they are often delegated to panels dealing with traditional “women’s issues” such as gender equality, children and youth rights, human rights and environmental issues.
To help women overcome these barriers, NDI brought together representatives from federal and state congresses, the federal government, city councils, political parties, civil society organizations, electoral bodies, judicial bodies and international organizations to discuss how to improve women’s representation in decision-making positions in political parties and government. About 100 participants were expected at the gathering, but, more than 350 showed up for the June 6 national forum, “Initiative 6x60: Towards an Agenda for Political Equality,” named for the 60th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Participants hailed from 21 states, and nearly 80 percent were women.
A panel and six roundtable discussions focused on cultural and institutional barriers to women’s participation, how political parties operate, Mexican policies aimed at achieving equality between women and men in elections, political participation of indigenous women, and women’s participation in local politics. The panel discussion on political equality reform was broadcast by Mexico’s Congress Channel and streamed live online.
During the roundtables, participants identified pending reforms that would strengthen women’s participation. One being considered at the national level would change the Federal Code for Electoral Institutions and Procedures (COFIPE) to require gender quotas for all legislative offices, while at the local level there is a demand to synchronize local and federal electoral laws on such topics as gender quotas and designation of funds for women’s political party training.
Participants also developed proposals to include quotas for indigenous women running for parliament — 50 percent for the 28 districts with a 40 percent indigenous population and 10 percent for other districts — and establish a federal fund to promote indigenous and Afro-Mexican women’s leadership through training programs and awareness campaigns about their civic and political rights.
At the end of the forum, participants produced 33 proposals related to constitutional reforms, COFIPE and local election code reforms, and reforms to federal and local laws that regulate how public institutions operate, among other topics. The Senate Gender Equality Commission then agreed to incorporate 25 of these proposals into bills on five areas of federal legislative reform. For example, COFIPE reforms include a proposal to require gender quotas for all legislative positions. The commission will present the bills during the next legislative session, which will begin in September.
“The main [impact] is to have a concrete agenda for advancing women in politics that brings together the major legal changes in political and electoral rights,” said Natividad Cárdenas of the citizens council Mujeres al Poder (Women in Power). “Experience has shown that only with the defense of women’s political rights have women achieved a position in decision-making.”
The event was organized with the Senate and Lower House Committees for Gender Equality, the National Institute for Women (INMUJERES), the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), UN Women and the Citizen Council for the Defense and Promotion of Women’s Political Rights (Mujeres al Poder). The program was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
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Published August 28, 2013