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On June 12th, the online conversation “Women’s Human Rights: Challenges before COVID-19” was held, convened by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Commission for Gender Equality, the National Institute for Women and UN Women. Different national and international political figures participated in this event, including Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Relations; Olga Sanchez Cordero, Secretary of the Interior; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
This meeting allowed to take stock of the situation that women in Mexico and Latin America have lived, and continue to live, but with the aggravating circumstance of the pandemic. It was recognized that women have been the most affected not only by issues of gender violence but also by unpaid work, the situation of poverty, food, unemployment, job insecurity, and the participation of nearly 80% of women in the frontline against the pandemic that continues to prevent them from other activities.
Ricardo Montreal, a MORENA senator, spoke about progress in equality with the recent mandatory gender parity policy in government institutions, as well as that of granting labor rights to domestic workers. In this sense, the regional director for the Americas and the Caribbean of UN Women affirmed that Mexico is a leader in legislative works, especially when 75% of Latin American congresses are made up, mostly, of men.
Marcelo Ebrard acknowledged that there will be a setback in terms of poverty after the pandemic, but he also expressed the importance of the government being progressive and feminist to face this situation. Similarly, the Ministry of the Interior declared: “The new normal will be feminist or it will not be”, recognizing that the State must listen to and empower women through the creation of public policies that make women’s rights tangible and justiciable.
Michelle Bachelet, for her part, stressed the importance of multilateralism and of making a “gradual and careful” reopening to overcome the pandemic. She invited us to rethink life after the pandemic regarding our practices as a society and affirmed that “the answers cannot be neutral or equal for everyone, but you have to think about how you focus because there are sectors that are more vulnerable.”
Alicia Barcena presented the Gender Equality Observatory in which statistics are retrieved at the Latin American level of the conditions of women in different aspects. “The social impact of the pandemic has a woman’s face”, declared the Executive Secretary of CEPA and said that the backdrop for the pandemic is the culture of privilege, which naturalizes inequalities, discrimination and addresses equity, not equality with a welfare approach and not empowerment and insisted that “this crisis should lead us to a change in the development model.”
For more information in Spanish:
Gobierno advierte que pandemia dejará estragos en mujeres (Expansión política, 12 de junio 2020)
La nueva normalidad será en feminista o no será: Segob (El Universal, 13 de junio 2020)
For more information from SIPAZ:
National: Cuts for Indigenous Women in Violent Situations (May 15, 2020)
Chiapas: Woman Dies Violently Every Two Days in the State (April 16, 2020)