March 8: A new opportunity for Mexico


“I only want to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free”. – Rosa Parks

One of the most important dates for women is only a week away. March 8 carries more than symbolic importance for women in the world.  It’s a day when women across the world join forces to showcase their strength in the fight for women’s rights.

This year the UN Women, the highest body at the UN working for global equality, is coming together with the world to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 with a theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, and a call for climate action for women, by women.

Across the globe, as we entered into the second decade of the 21st Century, women are far from having their due rights given by not only the United Nations Charter but also the states constitutions.

No country in the world is not facing patriarchal challenges embedded deep in the systems failing to ensure a life without violence and equality for women.

Why 8th March is important for women?

To present a historic context of the day, we need to go back to 1875. This year, hundreds of women that worked in a textile factory in New York organized a demonstration against the low wages. The reason was that the women that worked in the factories received less than half of what the men that worked there received.

As a result of that demonstration and agitation, resulted in the death of 120 women.  Because of this sad incident and police brutality, the working women established the first union for women.

Again, in 1911, 146 working women from another textile factory died due to a fire. These women could not escape because the owners sealed the doors of the stairs and exits to prevent the employees from stealing. Due to this accident, the International Union of Women Textile Workers was born. 

The feminist women movement ranged from Bolshevik Soviet Union to Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. This movement led the world to begin realizing gender equality and justice for all individuals across the world.

Due to the long and historic struggle of women workers, factory employees and wagers began the wave of the feminist movement that has resulted in comprehensive pressure across the world to give equal rights to women.

Later in 1975, United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day 1975 on March 8. Later in 1977, UNGA adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by the member states every year.

Femicide Challenge in Mexico 

Back in 2013, Carmen Moreno was then the executive secretary of the Interamerican Commission of Women in Mexico. Moreno described femicide as the main problem of women in the region.

According to her, it is a problem because the governments don’t have reliable data. After all, some countries do have; others only have murders of women without specifying the reason, and others only have murder crimes of men and women.

The definition of femicide in Mexico and across the world is the person that takes the life of a woman for gender reasons. Those gender reasons are explained in seven fractions that pretend to demonstrate that the violent death of a woman was for the reason of being a woman.

The first reason was that the victim has to present sexual violence signs. The second one is that the victim has to present infamous or degrading injuries or mutilations. The third reason is that the victim has a history of any kind of violence with the perpetrator. The fourth one is that the victim has to have a relationship with the criminal.

The fifth reason is that it is necessary to establish if there were any threats related to the crime. The reason number six is that the perpetrator isolated the victim before the crime. The last reason is that the perpetrator leaves the body of the victim exposed in a public place.

United Nations Defenition for Femicide

In 2012 and on the occasion of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the academic council on the United Nations Systems and the Small Arms Survey organized a symposium on Femicide and tried to gather a definition.

Femicide comprises the killing of women and girls because of their gender. It can take the form of, inter alia the 1) murder of women as a result of intimate partner violence; 2) torture and misogynist slaying of women 3) killing of women and girls in the name of “honor”; 5) targeted killing of women and girls in the context of armed conflict; 5) dowry-related killings of women;

6) killing of women and girls because of their sexual orientation and gender identity; 7) killing of aboriginal and indigenous women and girls because of their gender; 8) female infanticide and gender-based sex selection foeticide; 9) genital mutilation related deaths; 10) accusations of witchcraft and 11) other gender-based murders connected with gangs, organized crime, drug dealers, human trafficking, and the proliferation of small arms.

An important outcome of this symposium was the signature of the “Vienna Declaration on Femicide” by over 150 individuals, including several ambassadors and some 10 Member States.

Status of Women in Mexico  

Even though there have been substantial advances towards gender equality between men and women; Mexico as a society is still too far from reaching true equality. There are several reasons why Mexico hasn’t been able to keep advancing to guarantee women a truly dignified life.

Those reasons are inequity, lack of opportunities, violence, ignorance, poverty, preventable deaths, and other relevant aspects.

The rights of Mexican women suffered a setback regarding healthcare attention when there are legislations against the decisions that they take for their bodies or the persistent violence forms against them.

The economic inequity of Mexico between the salaries of a woman and a man is still important
The inequity between the salaries of a woman and a man is still important

An important aspect that has become stagnant is that women most of the time offered less than men for the same job and the amount of time invested. The Mexican Institute of Competitiveness stated that for every 100 pesos that a man won, a woman received 87 pesos. This means that women receive 13% less than men.

Sexual slavery for women is increasing, also poverty affects women more, and they suffer violence in every social sphere, especially in their homes. Women represent 51.2% of the population, which means they are the majority in a country that wants to keep old traditions.

The presence of women in the market has increased. According to a report of the government, in 2012, women represented less than 40% of the economically active population. In the sphere of education, the number of women that attended school increased from 40.3% to 48.9%.

But the sphere of education presents other challenges, for example, the percentage of women that did not know how to read or write was higher than men. That is because 8.1% of the women do not know how to read or write, to the 5.6% of men.

Status of Women ‘s Security in Mexico 

According to official data, in 2012, 41.2% of the Mexican women of 15 years or more, married or with a partner suffered some kind of violence. Whereas regarding divorced women, the number went up to 72%.

Manifestation of mexican women against sexual slavery in Guanajuato, 2017
Manifestation of Mexican women against sexual slavery in Guanajuato, 2017

The most frequent form of violence was emotional, then it followed the economic violence, after it physical violence, and the last one was sexual violence. It already existed in the country but president Felipe Calderon decided to declare war on drug cartels made the crimes increase exponentially.

The article will mention next the first dark period for Mexican women, current victim data, and other relevant information.

Mexican Women and 8th March 

During the day, different groups organize marches in different cities towards government buildings. The assistants of the march all wear either all purple or green or a distinctive accessory related to the cause.

9 March nobody moves, one day without us
After the manifestation on March 8, a day later is the movement 9 March nobody moves, one day without us

They also take photographs with legends and cardboards with messages for everyone to see. Two years ago, different groups promoted the initiative that a day after Women’s Day, on March 9 the movement nobody moves: one day without us, that stated that the women wouldn’t be active that day.

This means that during the day, no women would go out to work, shop, buy things, go out to restaurants, or school. This was an attempt to promote conscience on the general population on the effects that it would have for the country to not have women.

Period of 1993-2003 In Juarez, Chihuahua 

In 1993 started a dark stage for the Mexican women that lived in Juarez, Chihuahua. Many women started to disappear without a trace, only those that suffered rape, then were murdered, and the assailants decided to dump their bodies were found.

There is no exact estimation of the total victims, but around 300 bodies were found with proof of mutilations, rape, or burns. Official data is that 198 women lost their lives during that period.

Last year in Mexico city, the women decided to make a mural with the names of the victims
Last year in Mexico City, on March 8, the women decided to make a mural with the names of the victims in front of a government building

In 2009, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights started a trial and designated Mexico as the responsible. The sentence of the court considered Mexico to be responsible for the death of the first 8 victims due to the lack of a proper investigation.

This is not the only one as Mexico has several international sentences due to inadequate response to the increasing violence against women.  Later in 2012, the official number of victims rose to 700.

Violence against Women in Mexico 

The presented data is only from the city of Juarez as it is much higher in the rest of the territory, but from here it expanded to the rest of the territory. Felipe Calderon’s arrival to the presidency exponentially increased the crimes in every sphere that already existed. This article puts a special emphasis on women.

During the presidency of Obrador, the crimes have increased slightly compared to other years. For example, in 2020, Mexico closed its year with 3.723 violent deaths of women, only 900 of them were considered femicides.

Message shown in the government building on March 8 last year and down the mural
The message is shown in the government building on March 8 last year and down the mural

On December 30, 2021, the official estimations say that from January to November 2021, 3.462 women were murdered in Mexico. Out of those, 2.540 cases belonged to homicide and the rest to femicides.

The Government presented one day before the end of 2021; the Program to prevent, attend, sanction, and eradicate violence against women. The program is the master plan to deal with one of the main problems of the country.

According to the National Public Security Agency, in January 2022, Mexico registered 76 femicides. This was the same amount of cases during the same month in 2021. Although the official number of victims is surely much higher.

Reason for the Lack of Trust in Police 

It is not possible to allow this to continue; immediate actions should be taken by the federal government and the regional governments to tackle it. The country already has the Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking but for several reasons it doesn’t work properly.

A little girl in a manifestation on March 8 in 2017
A little girl in a manifestation on March 8 in 2017

The country has several laws to tackle this also but it is the same as the Special prosecutor; the citizens don’t trust in them. That is why the police forces in the country lack resources; they lend themselves to corrupt acts and enjoy impunity in the process.

Because of that, many police officers extort the population, and many abuses their power. They usually only have secondary education, and their time in the academy tends to be of 6 months or less. Each officer has a firearm but 21% of them have never fired it, 43% once or twice per year; and 23% one time per two years.


That is the first key, a substantial remodeling of the police forces. First to extend the requirements for them to have at least a high school education; and second to extend their time in the academy to at least a year and a half. The second one is important because they will graduate having a much richer education on how they can perform their duties and protect the citizens.

Carmen Moreno Toscano, the Mexican diplomat that was part of the Interamerican Commission of Women
Carmen Moreno Toscano, the Mexican diplomat that was part of the Interamerican Commission of Women

After that, it is extremely necessary to increase their salaries. Depending on their ranks, the officers can receive from 15,666 pesos per month to 24,000 pesos and from there it keeps growing. This is in the federal police force, the regional police officers have a lower salary, and the municipal even lower.

Also, the laws should be hardened to have more effective control over the actions of the three police forces. This is to avoid power abuses and to motivate them to be more effective when it comes to investigating crime scenes.

Those related to the investigation of crimes against women should all be women. That way the victims might feel more trust to approach them and that way denounce the crime. It would be ideal to make them undergo different courses so they can understand better what the victims suffer from.