Tuesday, October 24th 2023

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

When we think of Mexico, we don’t typically think of feminism—this is the country that gave us the word “machismo”—but that may be about to change. Mexico has been at the forefront of global change when it comes to feminist ideals.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the amazing strides Mexico has made, both on a foreign and domestic level, with regards to foreign policy, political representation, and contraception and abortion. Afterward, we’ll cover some of the work Mexico still has to do, and finally we’ll try and answer the question: Is Mexico a global leader in feminism?


Feminist Foreign Policy

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

It all started in September of 2019, when Mexico announced that it would adopt a new feminist foreign policy before the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations. Four months later, in January of 2020 at the 31st Meeting of Ambassadors and Consuls that Mexico would reveal its comprehensive plan based on a set of five principles:

  1. Feminist foreign policy with a gender perspective and a feminist agenda abroad
  2. Parity within the Foreign Ministry
  3. A Foreign Ministry free of violence that is safe for all
  4. Visible equality
  5. Feminism in all areas of the Foreign Ministry.

It might surprise you to learn that on the Feminist Foreign Policy Index, published by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Mexico ranks in the top three countries—behind Sweden and Norway. Mexico was the first Latin American country to adopt a feminist foreign policy in 2020.


According to the ICRW, "The Feminist Foreign Policy Index (FFP Index) is a new tool developed to assess countries’ progress toward a feminist foreign policy (FFP) approach." The index compiles information from countries with feminist foreign policies that reflect the fulfillment of their commitments and, in particular, their progress in guaranteeing the rights of women, adolescents, and young girls. The index reviews 27 indicators and evaluates 48 countries. These candidate nations are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which focuses on seven priority foreign policy areas:

  1. Environment and climate change
  2. Peacekeeping
  3. Labor protection
  4. Cooperation and development assistance
  5. Economic justice
  6. Migration
  7. Institutional gender commitments

The Mexican government congratulated the ICRW (and themselves, of course) for the study, and the high ranking given to Mexico's feminist foreign policy. In only three years, Mexico’s efforts have received worldwide recognition, and the Mexican Undersecretary was quick to acknowledge the Department for Human Rights and Democracy of the Foreign Ministry for achieving this ranking in such a short time.

“This demonstrates the constant and committed effort of the Mexican State with human rights and mainly with the rights of women, adolescents and girls in all their diversity. Mexico sees the rights of women, adolescents and girls as a pillar of just and egalitarian societies. It is not only a recognition, but also a great responsibility to maintain the highest standards in international action, and to ensure that these have an impact on domestic politics and thereby reduce femicides and the gender violence that has so greatly affected women in our country." -J. Salinas, Mexican Director General of Human Rights and Democracy

Political Representation by Women

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

If that wasn’t enough, Mexico also ranks one of the highest countries in terms of political representation by women. As of today, Mexico ranks fourth highest in proportion of women elected to national legislatures. To put this in perspective, Canada ranks 56th and the United States ranks 75th.


In 1996, Mexican lawmakers formally recommended that 30% of all congressional candidates be women. Then in 2002, Mexico mandated that recommendation. A few years later, they raised that mandate to 40%, and then by 2014, Mexico mandated that half of the political representation had to be by women.

Today, not only do half of Mexican members of congress identify as female, but seven of the country’s state governors are women—a feat that wasn’t even part of the proposed feminist mandates; just Mexico going above and beyond.

“Out of the repression, control, and monopolistic exercise of power through what was effectively a one party government from 1921 until 2000, you had this emergence of a very active, engaged civil society that helped propel a number of issues, abortion being one of them and women's representation being another.”

  • Christopher Sabatini, Senior Fellow for Latin America at Chatham House

Two Women Candidates This Election

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Are we selling you on this perspective yet? If not, then it might surprise you to learn that there’s a very high chance that Mexico’s new president will be a woman! Both establishment candidates identify as female, and the only way a Mexican president will not be a woman is if a fringe, 3rd-party candidate wins.

The first candidate, a Jewish physicist and former Mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, is running for the political party of Morena (the party of current president, AMLO


The other candidate, a businesswoman, Mexican senator, and indigenous peoples’ icon, Xochitl Galvez, is running as the opposition candidate by a coalition of all the other major political parties: PAN, PRI, PRD, and others.


It’s highly unlikely that a candidate not representing the four major political parties in Mexico will be elected. It would be like a green party candidate winning the American election. I’d bet my bottom dollar that by the end of the year next year, Mexico will have a female president.

Abortion Legalized in Mexico

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Some of you are likely saying, Ok. But what steps are being taken for the average woman? Well, what if I told you that Mexico recently legalized abortion for all citizens? The legalization of abortion started in Mexico City in 2008, but it wasn’t until very recently—September of 2023—that Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled penalties against abortion to be unconstitutional throughout the entire Mexican republic.

That’s right. That means women cannot be legally punished for having an abortion. If you find a liberal doctor willing to perform the procedure, no governmental body—state, federal, or local—can punish you for getting an abortion in Mexico.

Contraception Free in Mexico

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Not only that, but contraception is available for any woman in Mexico—without a prescription. free for any Mexican woman throughout the entire United States of Mexico.

Not only that, a shadow report from 2020 called Women’s Reproductive Rights in Mexico stated that, “The family planning services provided by the government include information, orientation, counseling, selection, prescription, and distribution of contraceptive methods. . . [which are] free of charge.”

This means that the government will pay for your contraceptive measures, free of charge—the details of which are not commonly known to the Mexican population, but they’re available through certain government agencies at no cost to the Mexican citizen.

*Click here for more information.

There Is Still A Lot of Work to Do

Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Is Mexico’s journey towards being a feminist utopia done? No. There’s still a lot of work to be done in Mexico before it’s the pinnacle of equality. For example, in the last section, women are granted female contraceptives—yet these contraceptives are still hard to acquire.

And if the country has one of the best political representations by women legislators, it still hasn’t resolved its lingering issue of inequality. Mexico scored a 0.309 on a scale of gender income equality (zero representi perfect equality, where men and women are earning the same amount of money for the same amount of work).

One of the most serious obstacles to female equality in Mexico is the epidemic of femicide in the country. According to the organisation Global American, Mexico has nearly four female homicides per 100,000 women, and many more are not reported. "For example, in Mexico, the Femicide Observatory, a coalition of 43 groups that document crimes affecting women, found that only 16 percent of female homicides in 2012 and 2013 were classified as femicides—and just 1.6 percent resulted in convictions." This atrocious wave of crime and impunity is appalling and fully unacceptable for a nation with such lofty ambitions for female equality. Cruces_Lomas_del_Poleo.jpg


Mexico — Global Leader in Feminism?

Hopefully, someday soon, Mexican women will be earning the same wages as Mexican men for the same job and women throughout the country will feel safe walking in public. If the last four years have shown anything is that anything is possible when it comes to the rights of women in Mexico.

In the meantime, we can only do our part to fight for gender equality in Mexico. For example, at Expat Insurance, there is no wage disparity. Everyone earns the same amount regardless of their gender identity.

I can testify that our Claims Manager and Founding Member, Barbara Palazuelos, earns way more than I do—and rightfully so! She’s earned it. Be nice to her. She takes care of you if something bad happens.

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