Two Women Candidates Set to Compete for Mexico’s Presidency
Mexico appears to be on track to elect its first woman president next year after its two leading political parties announced female candidates. Claudia Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor who is close to Mexico’s current President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will represent the ruling left-wing Morena party. She will be challenged by Xóchitl Gálvez, a sitting senator with indigenous roots who has gained the support of many working-class and young Mexicans. Mexican women did not win full voting rights until 1953, thirty-three years after the United States. But Mexico has made significant progress. Currently, it shares a fourth-place ranking with New Zealand for having such a significant level of female representation in parliament. Mexico has also appointed its first female Supreme Court chief justice, among other high-level positions. While the prospect of a female head of state is a historical first for Mexico, many are concerned that this representation will fail to resolve the challenges faced by women, including high levels of femicides and gender-based violence, forced marriages, wage disparity, and under-representation in most boardrooms. Still, Mexican women’s rights activist Maricruz Ocampo said it “is going to signify a turn in the way that we see women in politics.”
European Parliament Vote on Decriminalizing Sex Work
The European Parliament adopted a report this week on the regulation of sex work. An earlier version of the report focused on the criminalization of sex buyers, but the version released this week took a softened approach, instead urging member states to focus on the “punishment” of clients without specifying what such punishments would entail, initiatives to reduce demand, and the decriminalization of sex workers. With 234 votes in favor, 175 against, and 122 abstentions, this report triggered controversy between members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and sex workers. Sex workers and many lawmakers reject the concept of criminalizing sex work, arguing that such measures, including the softened approach urged in this report, only push sex work further underground and increase the risk of violence. Supporters of the report argued that prostitution is a form of gender-based violence and should not be approached as a profession. The argument to curb the demand was endorsed by women’s associations, including the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). “MEPs sent a strong signal for women, for Europe, for justice and equality by voting in favour of this report: it is a clear way of reaffirming that exploiting a woman’s body is not acceptable,” said EWL’s Mary Collins.
Sea Sponge Farming Improving Gender Equality in Tanzania
In response to rising ocean temperatures and environmental degradation caused by climate change, single mothers and divorced women in Zanzibar are turning to sea sponge farming to stay afloat. Women from the local Jambiani village have traditionally farmed seaweed. But with the help of the Swiss non-profit Marine Culture, they have started to transition to growing sea sponges, which are primitive aquatic animals harvested for bathing and cleaning. Seaweed is vulnerable to the warming temperatures of climate change, whereas sponges can continue to thrive, providing more consistent earnings and conservation benefits to marine ecosystems. Local women’s rights activists say this farming is helping to improve gender equality by lifting women out of poverty and redefining gender roles in the community. “I work tirelessly to earn money so that my children can receive better education and succeed in life,” says one of the women farmers. “I want to break the cycle of ignorance in my family.”