Mexico’s first woman president will inherit a huge public safety problem

Insights from Bloomberg, Este Pais, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Policy

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Mexico is set to elect its first woman president this weekend; former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum leads in the polls, while former senator Xóchitl Gálvez trails behind.

The election would mark a milestone for gender parity in the country, and it comes at a time when gender inequality and security are top of mind for voters. More than 2.5 million women work in the largely unregulated domestic labor industry, where they often face abuse. At the same time, the number of missing persons in Mexico is now in excess of 110,000 and murders are up.


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Outgoing president López Obrador leaves voters craving safety

Sources: Financial Times, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg

Mexico’s current president Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) instituted policies that reduced the poverty rate significantly but he has less of a track record on safety, leaving voters wanting more from the next president. On the campaign trail in 2018, AMLO promised to investigate missing persons cases, but some families have accused him of “focusing more on burnishing his own image than producing substantial results,” Al Jazeera noted. Government funds, meanwhile, have privileged infrastructure projects, while murders have spiked. Some mothers of missing children said they are ambivalent, and “do not believe anything” said on the trail.

A woman president may not necessarily have a feminist agenda

Sources: Este Pais, Associated Press

Although two female candidates lead the race, “it’s unclear how much it will shift the realities of working women in the country,” the Associated Press noted. Salary and influence gaps still exist between men and women in Mexico, with only 47% of women active in the workforce compared to 76% of men, while 2.5 million domestic workers — many of whom are women — exist in a form of “modern slavery.” A woman in the national palace does not mean they will prioritize equality, abortion rights advocate Ninde MolRe wrote in Este Pais, as others have “used political positions to get to where they are but then they have to comply with party discipline.”

Sheinbaum’s record indicates where she might diverge from AMLO’s legacy

Sources: Foreign Policy, NBC News, El Universal

Election front runner Claudia Sheinbaum has handled gender issues in Mexico City markedly differently to the federal government, including creating more day care centers and overseeing a drop in murders of women and girls. She has also promised to place more female lawyers in prosecutors’ offices and to address domestic violence, Foreign Policy reported. Analysts say that Sheinbaum, a trained physicist, could also take on more climate change-focused policies. Though Sheinbaum has largely chosen to avoid speaking on specific security policies during presidential debates, El Universal noted that she could also expand the National Guard’s capacity as first responders.

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