When Mexican presidential contenders Claudia Sheinbaum and Xochitl Galvez entered politics at the start of the millennium, more than four in five senators in the country were men. Today, the majority are women.
The rise of Sheinbaum, who was named on Wednesday as the ruling party’s candidate for next year’s presidential election, and Galvez, the main opposition contender, is the culmination of a rapid process of female inclusion in politics since 2000.
“It’s extraordinary in a patriarchal country,” said Josefina Vazquez Mota, who made history in 2012 as the first female presidential candidate for one of Mexico’s main parties.
“I’m sure this is going to be a watershed,” added Vazquez Mota, a senator who, like Galvez, represents the center-right National Action Party, or PAN, which ruled from 2000-2012.
Confirmation that both leading candidates for the June 2 election would be women came within days of the Mexican Supreme Court striking down a federal law criminalizing abortion.
Many women in Mexico, who make up 52 percent of the population, hope the government that takes office in October 2024 will empower them as never before.
“Just imagine having a female president in a country as macho as Mexico!” said Maria del Carmen Garcia, 70, a secretary who said women’s pay needs to catch up with men’s.
Latest polls suggest either former Mexico City Mayor Sheinbaum, the current favorite and candidate of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or Galvez, a businesswoman-turned senator, are likeliest to win the election.