Mexico is the only country outside the richer nations of the world to be on the list of 20 top donors to UN Women, the United Nations agency for gender equality and the empowerment of women. This commitment reflects the strides that Mexico has made in promoting women’s rights in recent years, powered by government policies, the hard work of nongovernmental organisations, and the creation of homegrown women’s networks such as the Mexican Association of Executive Women (AMME) and the Association of Women Business Owners (AMMJE).
Mexico’s national conversation about gender parity can be traced back to 1975, when the United Nations held the first World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City. With 133 governments participating, the conference defined a World Plan of Action, which called upon governments to develop strategies that would bring gender equality, eliminate gender discrimination and integrate women in development and peace-building.
In 1981 Mexico ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and has passed various laws to establish gender equality, including Article 4 of Mexico’s Constitution (“A man and a woman are equal before the law”). The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate have established an Equality and Gender Commission. Currently women occupy one-quarter of all parliamentary positions, which is a higher proportion than in the United States. Josefina Vázquez Mota was the first woman from a major party to run for president in 2012, and she has served as leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in the Chamber of Deputies.
While quotas and laws have helped women gain equality in politics, greater efforts are needed to implement legal and policy frameworks in order to make a real difference in women’s lives. Violence against women in Mexico is epidemic. The UN ranks Mexico as first in the world in sexual violence against women. 63 percent of women aged 15 and over have experienced violence during their lifetime, and 47 percent have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner. There are many societal factors contributing to gender violence, including the general acceptance of traditional gender roles, the unequal position of women in society, and the normative use of violence by police.
Increasing numbers of women are entering the workforce in Mexico, and this growth has played a major role in helping to reduce poverty. According to a recent World Bank study, women’s income has been more than twice as effective as men’s income as a factor in poverty reduction. Working women from the growing middle class are also new consumers whose greater spending power helps keep Mexico’s economy growing.
At the same time, many women remain out of the labour force in Mexico. While, on average across OECD countries, 62.7% of women are employed or seeking employment, this is the case for only 47.3% of Mexican women. Almost 40% of Mexican young women are neither in employment nor in education or training, the second highest rate among OECD countries after Turkey.
Mexico’s informal economy employs over one-third of the entire workforce. Statistics from the World Bank and Mexico’s International Labour Office show that women represent 40% of those employed in the non-agricultural labor force. In 2020, women are projected to be 38% of the total labor force (22,704,200).
As for women in corporate leadership positions, they still have a long way to go. According to a recent survey of Mexican corporations, fewer than 6% of board seats are held by women. In the same corporations, women hold 18% of senior management positions, while in the public sector they hold over 20% of those positions. Like most countries, Mexico suffers from not only vertical segregation but also horizontal segregation, where 45% of women officers are human resources directors, and only 5% of them held management positions in production.
While investment in the education of girls has increased, many of them do not enter the labour market or do so only for short periods of time. The share of female students that choose to pursue university education in science, technology and mathematics is even lower than that of their male counterparts.
Expanding women’s work opportunities, improving women’s ability to make life choices, and reducing the gender wage gap will help Mexico’s continued economic growth, poverty reduction, and growing middle class. At the same time, various infrastructure problems, including women’s continued marginalisation, continue to constrain the country’s opportunities for growth.
Women's Forum Mexico 2016
Co-creando junt@s - Co-creating together
Building on the theme of Co-creando junt@s / Co-creating together, the first edition of the Women’s Forum Mexico emphasizes actions and solutions to open new social and economic opportunities, and the need and importance of involving everyone in processes of change.
The event, to be held on 27-28 April 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Polanco in Mexico City, will gather more than 500 women and men leaders from Mexico, the United States and Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and representing all major sectors of society.
Photo n°1 - View of Mexico City taken on March 11, 2016. AFP PHOTO/ RONALDO SCHEMIDT
Photo n°2 - Aerial view of the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City on February 5, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ RONALDO SCHEMIDT