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Mexico makes history as Claudia Sheinbaum becomes first female president

Achieving Woman
 Mexico makes history as Claudia Sheinbaum becomes first female president (Photo: Reuters)

Mexico has turned a historic page with the election of Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female president in a landslide victory. Preliminary results from Mexico's electoral authority reveal that Sheinbaum, the 61-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, secured between 58% and 60% of the vote in Sunday's election. This commanding lead places her approximately 30 percentage points ahead of her main rival, businesswoman Xóchitl Gálvez.

Sheinbaum is set to take office on October 1, succeeding her mentor, the outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Her election is not only a significant personal triumph but also a milestone for gender equality in Mexico, marking the first time a woman will hold the nation's highest office.

In her victory speech, Sheinbaum emphasized the historic nature of her win: "For the first time in the 200 years of the Mexican Republic, I will become the first woman president of Mexico." She highlighted that this achievement was not solely hers but a victory for all women, pledging, "I won't fail you." Her words resonated deeply with many, symbolising a new era of possibilities and empowerment for women across the country.

Sheinbaum's background is as impressive as her victory. Born to Jewish immigrants from Bulgaria and Lithuania, she forged a notable career as a scientist before entering politics. With a doctorate in energy engineering, she became an expert on climate change, eventually serving as the environment secretary for Mexico City when López Obrador was mayor. In 2018, she broke another glass ceiling by becoming the first female mayor of Mexico City. Her tenure was marked by progressive policies and initiatives aimed at improving the city's infrastructure and sustainability.

Supporters of Sheinbaum celebrated her victory in Zócalo Square, reflecting on the broader implications for women in Mexico. Edelmira Montiel, 87, expressed her joy: "Before, we couldn't even vote, and when you could, it was to vote for the person your husband told you to vote for. Thank God that has changed and I get to live it." This sentiment captures the profound social and cultural shift that Sheinbaum's election represents. This is a tribute to the growing recognition and inclusion of women's voices in Mexican politics.

However, the campaign was not without its challenges. Violent attacks marred the lead-up to the election, with more than 20 local candidates killed, highlighting the ongoing issue of crime in Mexico. Gálvez criticized the government and Sheinbaum for the rampant violence, promising to confront crime directly, though she offered few specifics. The high stakes of the election were underscored by these violent incidents, almost dimming the democratic process.

Gálvez acknowledged the deep-seated issues facing Mexico and wished Sheinbaum success in addressing them. Tackling the powerful criminal cartels and the violence they perpetuate will be one of Sheinbaum's significant challenges. Sheinbaum has stated that addressing the root causes of violence is crucial. She plans to expand welfare programs to provide opportunities for young Mexicans, aiming to prevent their recruitment by criminal organizations.

Sheinbaum's approach to crime and violence also includes a focus on social justice and economic reforms. By addressing inequality and providing better opportunities for education and employment, she hopes to create a more stable and prosperous society. This strategy reflects her broader vision of continuity with López Obrador's policies, which have focused on reducing poverty and promoting social welfare.

On the international front, Sheinbaum has pledged to maintain a balanced and respectful relationship with the United States. She emphasized the importance of mutual respect and equality while also promising to defend the rights of Mexicans living across the border. This stance marks a continuation of López Obrador's policies but with a renewed emphasis on diplomacy and cooperation.

López Obrador's support played a crucial role in Sheinbaum's campaign. With his approval rating nearing 60%, his endorsement provided a significant boost. Voters who supported Sheinbaum often cited their desire to continue López Obrador's anti-poverty programs. Her victory is seen as a mandate to carry on the progressive policies initiated by her predecessor.

As Mexico prepares for Sheinbaum's presidency, the nation stands at the threshold of a new era, one that promises to uphold the advances made and to break new ground in gender equality and governance. The historical significance of her election cannot be overstated. It represents a profound change in Mexico's political and social fabric, offering hope for a future where gender is no longer a barrier to achieving the highest levels of leadership.

Claudia Sheinbaum's election as Mexico's first female president is indeed a landmark moment in the country's history. It is a victory for women, for democracy, and for the progressive ideals that many hope will define Mexico's future. As she prepares to take office, the world will be watching, eager to see how she explores the challenges ahead and builds her legacy.

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