Political Participation of Women: Advances and Challenges
In recent years, there have been significant advances regarding the political participation of women. However, there is still a long way to go on the road to gender equity and strengthening women’s influence in the political sphere.
Regarding the advances in Mexico, 3% of political party budgets have been designated to political leadership training for women; female electoral candidate quotas have been approved; and a recent gender equality reform requiring an equal number of female and male candidates to run for legislative offices has been passed.
In the June 2015 electoral process, a greater number of female candidates were registered. Nevertheless, the women elected to fill public offices were the minority. Even though the gender equality candidate mandate was carried out — political parties were obligated to ensure that at least half of their chosen candidates were women by law — only 116 of the 300 district deputy candidates won, reaching only 38%. In gubernatorial elections, only one female won out of 9 candidates. In Mexico City, 26 women ran for the office of district representative, and only 4 were victorious.
Upon examining the past elections, it can be observed that affirmative action has boosted the number of female candidates aspiring to public office. However, female electoral candidate quotas are not enough; they do not ensure their inclusion in internal decision making processes. Additionally, they do not consider municipal and executive branch offices.
The advances achieved up to this point have revealed new challenges. Women in politics are a minority who face institutional, cultural, economic and social obstacles that restrict their participation, even within powerful spheres. Just to name one example, the majority of congressional coordinators are men. Measures are needed so that women may also actively participate in negotiations and agreements and not have to endure common discriminatory practices in Mexican politics, such as placing women candidates in sure-to-lose districts to merely comply with the quota. Likewise, voters should overcome absurd ideas such as doubting women’s capability of holding a public office effectively.
Women’s participation in politics is a necessary step in cementing democracy and building an inclusive and just society in which legislative changes and public policies reflect the interests of all sectors of society. Nevertheless, affirmative actions are not enough to achieve a true paradigm shift.
Becoming aware of the path toward gender equity is a process. It requires working toward a greater political participation of women under the same conditions as men. It is important to understand the importance of women in positions of power. I invite you, as voters and free citizens, to vote for women in the next elections and promote their political leadership.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.