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Women leaders speak out against gender violence and inequality in Mexico

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

David Morales - El Universal

Overlooking her audience from the podium with a confident gaze, Mexican celebrity Edith González, one of the attendants of EL UNIVERSAL’S 103 Women Leaders Forum, highlighted the importance of defending the truth in times of misinformation and media manipulation.

González offered an account of the country’s journalistic history and the role women have played in shaping its progress.

“From the early years of our new world, Mexico introduced its first printing press, a direct heir of the Gutenberg model. The history of the Mexican press started with one of our nation’s most illustrious intellectuals,” stated the actress.

“In 1693, challenging the dominant religious values of New Spain, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora published El Mercurio Volante (The Flying Mercury), which sought to provide scientific and historic information. In 1722, women began participating in Mexico’s journalistic history, though it was only under pseudonyms that the words of women were able to reach the Mexican Gazette.”

“In 1800, the voice of the independence filled the pages of the Despertador Americano, founded by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, followed by the publication of letters written by the first woman to become politically involved in the independence movement and Mexico’s first female journalist: Leona Vicario, who once said: ‘My name is Leona (Lioness), and I wish to live fiercely.’

González, who has been struggling with ovary cancer since 2016, closed her speech with a word on equality: "I am a woman, I was born a woman, and I would do it all over again. Each morning, I am proud to look at myself in the mirror and be reborn as a woman. This is why I strongly believe in equality and the equity we have conquered by our own means, not through a quota, but through our own capacity."

The actress, who wore a bright pink ladylike dress, acknowledged the important role Mexican newspapers played in the defense of truth and democracy, thanking reporters and journalists from EL UNIVERSAL for their hard work, as well as the event host and newspaper director Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz.

González’s participation was preceded by Ms. Perla Díaz de Ealy’s opening speech, in which she spoke loud and clear about Mexico’s femicide crisis and systematic victimization of women, quoting an article published by EL UNIVERSAL that said an average of 10 women had been murdered every day in the country during the month of January.

The wife of the newspaper director is also president of MAEPEC, a non-profit foundation led by a group of female entrepreneurs, public officials, professionals, and housewives which aims to raise funds and provide scholarships for students seeking a career in journalism and communications.

Mexico City’s first elected female mayor Claudia Sheinbaum also took the stand, stressing the need to promote economic and political autonomy among women and tackle the issue of gender inequality at its roots. The stateswoman announced an investment of MXN$200 million for the creation of cooperatives and small businesses for women, as well as other policies aimed at combating inequality and poverty in some of the city’s most marginalized districts.

However, the left-wing mayor and member of the MORENA political party, which won a majority in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies last year, was met with skepticism by some of the attendants following President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s announcement that he would cut direct funding for government-run and concessionary child care centers at the beginning of February, alleging corruption on the part of some of the centers’ directors.

The public welfare program, which was promoted by former presidential candidate Margarita Zavala, a Mexican lawyer and right-wing politician, allowed parents to sign up for low-cost care based on their place of employment or residence.

Though Zavala also attended the Women Leaders forum, she made no comment on the issue.

The abortion debate

Last Wednesday, the Mexican state of Nuevo León passed a bill to reform Article 1 of its constitution to guarantee the right to life from conception to natural death.

The bill implies that abortion is now punishable by imprisonment and was adopted by 30 votes in favor, eight against, and four abstentions.

The state congress’ resolution was met with public outrage as millions of Mexicans shunned the decision to criminalize abortion in social media, branding self-described “pro-life” movements as retrograde and inhuman.

Mexico’s Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero told a press conference on Wednesday that the measure adopted by the government of Nuevo León was an act of discrimination and re-criminalization of women, adding that the present administration would work to outweigh the state's resolution with an amendment to the federal constitution.

At the forum, Hilda Trujillo, director of the Frida Kahlo Museum was the only attendant to speak out against the state government's resolution.


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