In the state of Oaxaca, where women are still struggling for equal rights in many municipal elections, women will outnumber the men in the state Congress.
The number of female deputies has nearly tripled in eight years, from nine in 2010 to 23 following the July 1 election. It is the first time in Oaxaca’s history that there will be more women than men in the 42-seat state legislature.
The change comes as a consequence of affirmative action within political parties.
For years, local politicians and activists have been pushing for gender parity regulations that have translated into electoral law. As a result, most political parties have assigned the top options for proportional representation congressional seats to women.
Local electoral advisor Nayma Enríquez Estrada says the results of the July 1 elections are a “collective conquest,” and that women in Congress have now to “make theirs a legislative agenda with a feminist perspective that focuses on human rights and interculturalism.”
Anabel López Sánchez, a member of the Collective for Women’s Citizenship, observed that parity must be reflected not only in the number of seats occupied by women, but in their election as members of congressional commissions, where the real decision-making takes place.
“We hope that [female Congress members] are not only assigned to conventional commissions, but that they can be part of budgetary, government [and] justice commissions; only then will we be able to talk about equality in representation,” she said.
Pending issues that must be addressed by the incoming legislature include the decriminalization of abortion, addressing obstetrical violence and allocating more funding to the prevention and sanction of gender violence, continued López.
Laws are needed, she added, so that vulnerable sectors of the society of Oaxaca — including women breadwinners and the indigenous and Afro-descendant population — can access employment and social security.
López said that once the 64th legislature is sworn in later this year, the collective will present a common agenda to the female lawmakers, one in favor of women’s rights.
The Oaxaca Congress will be made up of 32 deputies from the Together We Will Make History coalition led by the Morena party. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has been the majority party, will have six members, while the National Action, Democratic Revolution, New Alliance and Ecologist Green parties will each hold a single seat.