An International Women's Day event in Mexico's Congress. (AP)

An International Women's Day event in Mexico's Congress. (AP)


LatAm in Focus: How Women Won Political Parity in Mexico—and What Comes Next

By Carin Zissis

As two women, Claudia Sheinbaum and Xóchitl Gálvez, compete for the presidency, Aúna’s Mónica Tapia explains the paradox of gender parity in Mexico. 

September 6 was a groundbreaking day for Mexico. It’s not just because that’s when governing Morena coalition announced that a woman—former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum—would be its presidential contender. After all, Mexico witnessed a woman make a bid for the presidency for the first time in 1982 and had its first candidate for a major party in 2012. But this time around though, Sheinbaum’s selection came a few days after the Frente por México opposition coalition announced its candidate would also be a woman: Senator Xóchitl Gálvez. Given that Sheinbaum and Gálvez will be the two names representing the country’s main political forces, it’s likely that after voters cast ballots in the June 2024 election that the next president of Mexico will be a woman. 

That news has drawn new attention to the legacy of women’s political leadership in Mexico. After all, on the same day Sheinbaum was named the winner of Morena’s primary-like process, Mexico’s Supreme Court, also headed by a woman, decriminalized abortion at the national level. The leaders of both houses of Congress, the Central Bank governor, and top cabinet posts like Interior and Foreign Relations? All women. Not only that, but Mexico achieved gender parity in its legislature and ranks fourth worldwide in terms of women’s parliamentary representation—well above the U.S. rank of 71.

Monica Tapía
Monica Tapía

What makes this all the more surprising is the fact that, as Mónica Tapia explains, the country is a “latecomer” when it comes women’s political participation as women only gained the right to vote in 1953. Tapia is the co-founder of Aúna, an organization that serves as an accelerator for women seeking to get involved in Mexican politics and drive change at the local and national level. In this episode, Tapia tells AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis how, over the course of decades, Mexican women worked within political parties to implement increasingly expansive gender quotas that were eventually cemented in a 2019 parity reform. Those parity laws helped open the door for contenders like Sheinbaum and Gálvez, says Tapia.

But even as women have achieved greater representation, skyrocketing femicide rates and persistent economic inequality in Mexico have sparked a resurgent women’s movement. And, says Tapia, political parties are taking note of the demands, says Tapia. “It's [about] who's going to win that vote of these women who are angry, who are demanding solutions, and who are not very satisfied with the current policies.” 

Tapia also warns that even as women gain political seats, the men who control the political parties or even male relatives often exercise influence and control. “What needs to happen is that women not only become governor or president, but that they really have their power ... respected and are able to lead.” In an era of polarized politics, women leaders’ ability to collaborate, listen, and build consensus can lead to substantial social change. “That’s our hope,” says Tapia. “That’s really our hope for the future.”

This episode was produced by Luisa Leme. Carin Zissis is the host. Share feedback at: 

The music in this episode was performed by La Bruja de Texcoco at Americas Society. Find out about upcoming concerts at:  

Learn more about AS/COA’s Women’s Hemispheric Network at: