I used to think that it’s almost absurd to live in a country where more than 10 women are killed every day, a raper is being “elected” as a governor, and more than 62% of female executives don’t get a promotion because it’s given to a man.
Now I agree more with Einstein:
“Two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity… and I’m not too sure about the universe”
The 9M Movement
Just in case you don’t know yet, let me give you a little more context on what’s happening in Mexico these days, apart from the evident injustice and chaos.
Of course there is a whole story behind this, which I’ll be writing about in a moment. For now, the most relevant event that we should all be aware of, is the feminist protests that have been taking place over the past few days, especially on March the 8th and the 9th.
It’s hard to accurately calculate the number of people — including men — who participated in this movement. Not only because of the crowded places and the relative chaos that ruled, but also because this protest is international and has now gone online as well.
Even so, journalists estimate that we’re talking about millions, who with posters, grenades, flowers, and flags, are literally screaming for justice. Where? This is mostly happening in Latin American countries like Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil.
Because I’m a young Mexican lady, and I live in this country, I’ll now be focusing on the main events happening here, as well as the history behind the “9M” Movement.
I can’t say that “everything” started in 2020, but it’s been the year when more women started to join forces in Mexico. What for?
To my understanding (different women may see it slightly differently), the clear purpose behind the movement, is telling people in charge of making decisions (AKA the president and his subordinates):
We are tired of living with fear; of having to say goodbye to friends, mothers, and daughters, knowing that their last days were most likely the most terrifying that a human being can ever imagine.
The main strikes took place in front of important monuments and places in the center of Mexico City. These included Zócalo, Reforma, and Monumento a la Revolución.
2 elements weren’t missing that day: screams, and paint. El Angel de la Independencia, a national monument, was painted with graffiti messages about feminism and justice for women.
Worth mentioning, another way of protest was more specifically called “Un día sin nosotras”, which means “A day without us”.
As you may imagine, this consisted of hundreds of thousands of women who wouldn’t do their normal activities, like going to work, or even going outside of their homes. This happened on March the 9th.
The purpose of this was to let everyone know every bit of value that women bring to Mexico and the world. Not only economically, but also as classmates, or as people who help others.
Not a single women in offices or schools. Not a single women in restaurants and stores. Neither in the public, nor their cars or on the streets.
It is estimated that this lack of activity cost the country’s economy the equivalent to more than 1.4 Billion dollars.
It’s also hard to acknowledge that it all could’ve been for nothing. 2,240 women were murdered just in the first seven months of 2020.
I’m writing this article on March the 9th, 2021. Despite the current pandemic, women manifested in front of monuments, shared videos about this on social media, attended online protests, and asked NOT to be congratulated.
This time though, Palacio Nacional — the seat of the federal executive — was protected with a black fence. This didn’t stop the movement.
If the “Palace” ought not to be painted, then the names of women who were murdered and raped, would at least be read.
After some time, when the fence was being knocked down, the government ordered for thousands of police people to protect the place.
Local authorities deny the use of tear gas. For videos on social media, we know that they were using fire extinguishers instead.
The first feminist movement in the world that we know of, is born in Europe for the French Revolution. In 1791 we have the first Declaration on the Rights of Women and Citizens, which was supposed to give women equality in human rights, which included the right to vote.
In the second half of the XIX century, the feminist movement is born in Yucatán, México.
You know that I’m not a fan of history at all. So I’ll fast-forward to the XXI century and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Murders and rapes
According to INEGI, the organization in charge of every stats in Mexico that you can think of, 66.1% of women in 2016 (older than 18 years old) suffered from some type of physical, verbal, or psychological violence.
The UN says that violence against women has 3 main causes. This is information that everyone can find in Wikipedia. I’ll try to give MY point of view on these points. I don’t speak for others.
Invisibility: 88.4% of women who suffered from a certain sort of violence in Mexico didn’t complain about it with the corresponding authorities. I’d say that this is because they’re either scared about the repercussions or they just don’t think their voices are gonna be heard.
Normalization: I still can’t believe that I’ve been living in a country where 10 women are killed every day on average, and 59% of women who have a partner have suffered from some sort of violence, and every 4 minutes a woman’s rights are violated. My biggest question now is whether I should leave this place, or try to do something about this problem.
Impunity: the way I see it, the mafia has grown so big that politicians care more about keeping their reputation, than doing something about the future governor who has been accused several times of raping. The impunity rate in Mexico indicates that 99% of murdering cases aren’t solved.
In the workplace
I really want to make clear again that I don’t want to speak for the millions of women in my country. I’m just trying to expand the perspective for people living in other (likely more developed) countries.
What I see, is that people in the 8M movement didn’t only protest because of physical, verbal, and psychological violence against women, but also against gender discrimination.
Several studies demonstrate that women’s participation in the Mexican economy, is significantly lower than men’s. Even when we’ve gained a lot in terms of education, we can already see a great difference in entry levels. By the time we get to the CEOs of Mexican companies, less than 10% are women.
Men are 88x more likely to get to an executive position
Why is this? Good question. Research I’ve been doing with other friends shows that the main problem is really attached to our culture, or just how both men and women behave in Mexico.
From women doing more than 2x more household, to pure discrimination when hiring women, I personally think that this problem (gender divide) has some invisible root causes that could be the most difficult to solve.
“Engineering is not for women” — Men and women say.
“Women shouldn’t work because they need to marry and have kids” — Men and women say
“She can’t do a CEO’s job as good as a man can” — Men and women say
These are only a few prejudices that men and women still have in Mexico, and many other countries. What I want to communicate with you, is that it’s not only men who discriminate. Women do too.
To gain more perspective, let’s look at more perspectives of both male and female Mexicans:
- 20% of the population believes that men are better executives solely because of their gender
- 43% of Mexicans believe that it causes problems in the home if women earn more than their husbands
- 17% think that when jobs are scarce, men have a greater right to work
When evaluating whether something is right or wrong, I like to use the framework that I learned from Yuval Noah Harari, the historian and writer:
Moral means having a deep understanding of suffering. If something causes suffering to a conscious being, it’s wrong.
I think that both violence against women, and the results of the 8M protest can be easily evaluated this way. Are there better ways to speak up though? I’d say: of course there are! Are there better effective ways to make a change? I’m not sure about that.
If the president called the women protesting “retrograde”, would he listen with a pacific demand? A more formal one?
By the way, by no means do I want this to turn into a political thing. Of course, it has a lot to do with what’s happening, but we also can’t deny the fact that there have been murders and rapes with other presidents in charge.
After this reflection, I go back to the question of whether I should leave or try to help. Of course, I’m not sure, but I’m sure that there are small actions I will take.
Reporting any sort of gender violence that I see someone else or I suffer and stay safe are key, but above all, I like how Pamela Valdés sees being a female, Mexican, successful entrepreneur:
When you’re negotiating or doing what you love, forget about all the reasons why someone may discriminate you. You’re a Homo sapiens who’s doing their best. You can do this. That’s it.