Mexico, like most of the world, has come far in the road towards gender equality for women. Still, there’s a lot of room for change.
Goal five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) is to achieve gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls. The UN recognises that this is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
It’s also noted that in every part of the world, women and girls continue to encounter violence and discrimination. With strict gender roles and other inequalities, Mexico is no exception.
To put it into perspective, women’s suffrage in Mexico was 63 years ago. That might seem like quite a bit, but only 14 years ago, in 2005, did sexual violence within a marriage become illegal in Mexico.
Mexican gender inequality
It’s clear that there’s still much to do. Mexican women get paid 16.5% less than their male counterparts for the same job. Girls in rural areas have less access to education than boys. There are many cases of child marriage, as well as high rates of domestic violence.
But it’s encouraging to know the efforts to address gender inequality, and advocating for better conditions for Mexican women, has resulted in concrete advances. The importance of gender equality is taking centre stage.
Just a few weeks ago, Congress approved a law that makes sending other people’s intimate photos and videos punishable by jail time.
Some ways gender roles affect gender equality in Mexico
A huge part of the road towards gender equality is analysing the gender roles that people play, or are expected to, in order to be socially recognised and approved.
In Mexico, women are encouraged to, above all else, have children (73.3% of women over fifteen are mothers). That means joining the workforce becomes a secondary activity. For this reason, many women in relationships with men are financially dependent on their partners and this often means being unable to abandon an abusive relationship.
From a different perspective, men are often expected to take on the whole financial burden in a partnership between a man and a woman. This is huge economic pressure for the man, combined with the widespread belief that men should not express their feelings or show vulnerability.
Even if a woman works as much as a man she’s with, she will still be expected to do the housework on her own. For this reason, women in the workforce often have a larger workload than their male counterparts.
A shift in the gender equality conversation
The conversation in Mexico is changing. While the problems with gender inequality might seem endless, there’s a change in the way people talk about issues such as sexual violence.
A song has gone viral and been sung across the country. It is a song composed by Chilean women that was sung at a protest on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“And the fault wasn’t mine, not where I was, not how I dressed,” says the song. Generations before, public sentiment may have been different, but now more people are starting to agree. Blaming the victim may soon become less culturally acceptable. This conversational shift may seem small, but is actually a substantial victory.
The song has taken over the Spanish-speaking world. Many people identify with it, and many people are listening. Women are taking to the streets to protest. With this mobilisation is a mobilisation of hope.
Women’s empowerment projects
What is women’s empowerment? According to Goal 5: Gender Equality, it is providing girls and women with education, healthcare, decent work, representation, new legal frameworks regarding equality in the workplace and ending harmful practices targeted at women.
For over twenty years, GVI has been involved in women’s empowerment, in helping to remove socioeconomic barriers for women. By focusing on fields such as educational enhancement, healthcare education, and income-generating initiatives, the different programs help women succeed in the quest for equality.
Join one of our programs and start contributing to gender equality for women!
Daniela Boullosa is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy.The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs developmental editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.