Feminism(s)| Part IV: Feminism in Mexico
ONLINE TEA TIME WITH CLARA FRANCO YÁÑEZ, GIGA GERMAN INSTITUE FOR GLOBAL AND AREA STUDIES
March 2, 7-8 pm
As part of our Feminism(s) series, the program Gender and International Politics organized an event on feminism in Mexico. We were very happy to talk to Clara Franco Yáñez, GIGA German Instiute for Global and Area Studies, about ideas and agendas of feminism and feminist activism in the last few decades and today.
Clara began by giving an interesting and detailed overview of the origins of feminisms in Mexico. By highlighting that early feminism was associated with bourgeoise demands, she stressed that campensinxs and indigenous movements did not consider themselves feminist despite their feminist demands. Referring to a question from the audience about the unity of feminist movements, Clara emphasized that people are faced with different circumstances and obstacles, which frame their political demands. Hence, Mexico is home to not one feminist movement but to many feminist movements.
Evaluating Mexico’s feminist foreign policy, Clara pointed to aggravating domestic problems and concluded that the policy’s introduction follows an electoral logic rather than a political will. This is reflected in the fact that the Mexican feminist foreign policy is mainly focused on reforms within the Foreign Office and has little explicit goals regarding outward policy changes.
Two key areas of feminist mobilization in Mexico are personal safety and abortion laws. During the pandemic, the cases of domestic violence and femicides increased, while budget cuts enforced by the government’s austerity measures especially affected social institutions like women’s shelters. Referring to the abortion law debate which was fueled after president López Obrador’s referendum suggestions in light of the legalization of abortion in Argentina, Clara introduced us to the complexity of abortion laws in Mexico. The autonomy of the federal states in Mexico is very strong, meaning that every state has its individual criminal code and constitution defining legal abortion procedures. By diving deeper into the debate about abortion, Clara shared an observation she made during her research: the majority of the anti-abortion and the pro-choice supporters are not completley opposed to or in favor of abortion under all circumstances at any time but rather under defined circumstances. These differ depending on the interviewees’ attitude. She considered decriminalization of abortion as a possible middle ground and a first step towards its legalization in Mexico.
The Tea Time ended with Clara joining the critique of the referendum idea articulated by feminist movements, stressing problems of referendums in general and highlighting the issues of minority rights in particular. She underlined that the questions of who frames the campaigns, who gets mobilized, and who gets access to the voting polls would impact on the result.
This event was organized by Polis180’s programs Gender and International Politics. It is part of the event series Feminism(s) that takes a look at feminist movements, ideas and actors around the world. Future events of the series are set to look at Black feminism and feminism in India. You can read more about our past events on Islamic feminism, feminism in China and Turkey on this website.