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On the place of women in politics, Mexico has made “a 180 degree turn”

Photo: Mauricio Lima archives Agence France-Presse When Cecilia Soto ran for president of Mexico in 1994, “85% of people said a woman could not be president. Today, only 15% consider that a woman cannot govern the country,” she said in an interview with “Devoir”. Pictured is Cecilia Soto in 2002.

Lisa-Marie Gervais in Mexico

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  • Americas

A pioneer in politics, Cecilia Soto was one of the few women who dared to run for president of Mexico. That was exactly 30 years ago. Under the banner of the Labor Party, she entered the race for the 1994 presidential election, which turned out to be eventful, in the midst of the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and after the assassination of the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that would be in power for more than 70 years.

It was also 20 years before the principle of parity, which obliges political parties to present an equal number of women and men, was enshrined in the Constitution.

“We made a 180-degree turn,” says Cecilia Soto, in an interview with Devoir. When I was running, 85% of people said a woman couldn’t be president. Today, only 15% believe that a woman cannot govern the country. »

Her stay as a physics student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico coincided with May 68, a movement that gave her the spark for social issues while she turns to student activism.

Today, with 52 years in politics, Cecilia Soto is unstoppable. “I should be retired, but I can’t,” laughs this granddaughter of a former governor of Sonora. A former federal deputy, the septuagenarian was also heavily involved, at the end of the 1980s, in the presidential campaign of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, who distanced himself from the PRI to make a turn to the left by founding the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

In the current electoral campaign, which for the first time in the country's history will likely elect a woman, it is through the Civic Front national that she wanted to carry high the torch of democracy.

During the 2021 intermediate elections, seeing that Morena, the ruling party, was losing significant support — it went from 308 deputies to 281 and lost a million votes in the capital — Cecilia Soto felt a wind of change blowing. hope. “We felt that there was great disenchantment,” says the woman who does not particularly hold the outgoing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in her heart. Quickly, she chose her side: i>) that she helped to organize, civil society support for this initially neglected candidate began to grow. So much so that Morena began to demonize the entire movement. “It’s a feat to start from nothing, with a small group like ours, and to succeed [in positioning] a great candidate,” she says. A candidate who will face a government that has failed to support women, argues Cecilia Soto. “That’s not what a left-wing government is. »

His confidence goes rather to the Mexican people, who are preparing to go to the polls. In one generation, Mexican society has changed “for the better,” she believes. “There is no longer any doubt that women know how to govern well. »

Despite everything, electing a president is not enough to put an end to years of macho and misogynist culture. “I took a taxi the other day, and the driver told me he would vote for Máynez. Why ? Just because he’s a man, says Cecilia Soto, laughing heartily. There is still work to be done. »

This report was financed with the support of the Transat-Le Devoir~60 International Journalism Fund ~i>.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116