Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Reality of the Suffragette Movement in Mexico: Struggles and Triumphs

It was in October 1953 when the reform to Article 34 of the Constitution was enacted, granting women the right to vote at the federal level. This has undoubtedly been one of the great triumphs of the various feminist movements in the country. The suffragette movement in Mexico, which emerged at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, represents a fundamental chapter in the history of the women's rights struggle in the country. Mexico was one of the lagging countries in granting this right; in Latin America, it was one of the last, along with Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and Paraguay.


The Beginning of the Movement

During the Mexican Revolution, prominent figures such as Hermila Galindo and Dolores Jiménez y Muro excelled in both the suffrage and revolutionary movements, advocating for a social transformation that included gender equality. Their participation and activism at that time laid the foundation for future feminist movements in Mexico, marking a milestone in the history of feminism in the country. The issue gained prominence in post-revolutionary Mexico, as indicated by the three petitions received by the Constituent Congress of Querétaro on the subject.


Of course, as there were supporters, there were also opponents. For example, teacher Inés Malváez believed that "their activity would yield better results if it focused on educational and welfare works, avoiding involvement in the political world, which was filled with vices and capable of corrupting the morality attributed to women, who were considered noble and elevated spirits due to their maternal vocation."


Some states granted the right at the state level long before the country as a whole. Beginning with San Luis Potosí in 1923 and Tabasco and Chiapas, both in 1925.


Challenges Faced by Suffragettes

Suffragettes in Mexico faced a series of significant challenges in their quest for the right to vote and gender equality. In a deeply rooted context of traditional gender norms, women who joined the suffrage movement encountered strong opposition from both the government and society at large. Women's access to politics and voting was viewed with skepticism by conservative sectors, who believed that a woman's place was exclusively in the home. Furthermore, suffragettes experienced harassment and repression, often facing physical and verbal violence from opponents. This resistance did not deter the suffragettes but rather strengthened their determination in the fight for gender equality. Despite these obstacles, they persevered in their path to justice and equality, leaving a lasting legacy in the history of Mexico and the women's rights movement.


In addition to opposition and violence, suffragettes also faced institutional challenges. The laws of the time did not recognize women as citizens with full rights, which hindered their participation in political and electoral processes. Changing these discriminatory laws and achieving significant reforms in legislation was a monumental task. Suffragettes had to mobilize not only to change mindsets in society but also to influence the legal and political system.


The lack of support from some feminist sectors also represented an internal obstacle in the Mexican suffrage movement. Some prominent women of the time, despite their commitment to gender equality, were reluctant to support the fight for women's suffrage, believing that there were other priorities. This division within the feminist movement sometimes weakened cohesion and the political pressure capacity of the suffragettes.


Despite all these challenges, Mexican suffragettes demonstrated unwavering determination and a deep commitment to the cause. Their perseverance and courage paved the way for the advancement of women's rights in Mexico and laid the foundation for future feminist struggles in the country. Their tireless efforts were crucial in achieving significant progress in gender equality and women's political participation in Mexico.


Achievements of the Movement

The suffrage movement in Mexico achieved notable successes throughout its arduous struggle. One of the most significant milestones occurred in 1947 when Mexican women finally gained the right to vote in municipal and state elections. This victory marked a momentous point in the history of women's rights in Mexico, allowing women to actively participate in political life and contribute to decision-making at the local and state levels.


In addition to suffrage, suffragettes also advocated for reforms in other areas, such as access to education and gender equality in the workplace. Their efforts significantly raised public awareness about the importance of gender equality and laid the groundwork for future advancements in legislation and equal opportunities for women in the country. The achievements of the suffrage movement not only transformed the status of women in Mexican society but also inspired generations of women to continue fighting for gender equality.


Legacy of the Suffrage Movement

The influence of the Mexican suffrage movement extended beyond the political realm. The organization, solidarity, and passion demonstrated by suffragettes became a role model for subsequent feminist struggles in the country. These brave women set a precedent for peaceful and persistent resistance, which applied to various areas of women's lives, from seeking equality in education and employment to the eradication of gender-based violence.


The legacy of the suffrage movement in Mexico endures to this day. The struggle for gender equality continues, and the lessons learned from suffragettes, such as the importance of organization and perseverance, remain relevant. Women in Mexico have made significant advances in terms of political participation and civil rights, but there is still work to be done to achieve full equality.


The Mexican suffrage movement also served as a model and a source of inspiration for subsequent feminist struggles in the country. The achievements of Mexican suffragettes paved the way for future progress in pursuing a more just and egalitarian society for all, regardless of gender.


As the legacy of the suffrage movement endures, it also reminds us that the fight for gender equality is an ongoing process. Although significant progress has been made in Mexico and around the world, challenges and inequalities persist. In honor of Mexican suffragettes and all women who have fought for equality, we must continue working together to create a society where all people, regardless of their gender, have equal opportunities and rights. The suffrage movement inspires us to persevere in this tireless pursuit of a more just and inclusive society.


Conclusion

The suffrage movement in Mexico represents an essential part of the history of the struggle for women's rights in the country. Despite overwhelming challenges, Mexican suffragettes demonstrated exceptional courage and determination in pursuing gender equality. Their achievements, including the right to vote, marked fundamental milestones in the transformation of Mexican society and women's active participation in politics.


The coming year will give us the opportunity to exercise the hard-fought right to vote. And as far as we can tell, the decision will be between two women. However, let us remember that as much as there is to be done in the Mexican feminist struggle, there are still women in the world who do not have access to education, protection against gender violence, and other basic rights. It will only be this October, seventy years after the enactment of the reform that granted this right in Mexico, that women will vote for the first time in Vatican City, and hopefully, this will be followed by further progress.

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