Empowering Indigenous Women of Mexico


In Oaxaca, Mexico an Indigenous woman has been paving the way for women participation in local and national governance for a few years now.

Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza launched a national-level effort to reform indigenous practices with regard to women’s rights and freedoms as a response to ancient indigenous rules usos y costumbres which do not allow women participation in politics. Until very recently, indigenous women of Oaxaca and other regions of Southern Mexico did not have a right to vote and were not considered citizens. Norma Reyes Teran, director of the Women Institute in Oaxaca, says that ‘in at least 80 of the 570 rural localities, women have no political rights. In some areas they do not even exist in the official registry of citizens’.

Regardless of these ancient rules of the community, Eufrozina Cruz Mendoza decided that it was time for women to have a voice and she run for mayor in her village of Santa Maria Quiegolani. Her ambition was met with mixed responses. On the one hand, local men and women voted for her (and some even claimed she won), on the other hand she was ridiculed and local authorities nullified all ballots cast for Cruz Mendoza, because she is a woman.

Cruz used this defeat to highlight gender inequalities in Mexico and the non-existence of rights of indigenous women. The highlight of her fight was a constitutional amendment of Article 25, which established a legally enforceable mechanism for the full involvement of women in elections and the exercise of their right to vote and be voted for on equal footing with that of men.

To change male perception of women and women’s perception of themselves, Cruz Mendoza founded QUIEGO (Queremos unir, integrando por la equidad y género, a Oaxaca), a non for profit organization which promotes gender equality in Oaxaca. QUIEGO has since organized several successful forums on the rights and freedoms of indigenous women.

When you change a woman, you change a family, then a town and step by step we can change the entire country

Eufrozina Cruz Mendoza

In 2010 Cruz Mendoza was nominated as a candidate for deputy of the local congress for  Partido Acción Nacional PAN (National Action Party) and after they won the elections, Cruz Mendoza was elected to the office of the local congress and became the first indigenous woman in Oaxacan politics.

We will be discussing this among other issues focused on Women at the 2012 Club de Madrid Annual Conference: “Harnessing 21st Century Solutions: A Focus on Women




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  1. Isis Carrillo says:

    To whom it may concern,
    I would like to thank you for your efforts in empowering women in Oaxaca. I am very supportive of promoting gender equality and empowering women all over the world. The efforts in Mexico have been extremely important to me since I am of Mexican descent.I am curious if there have been any other parts of Mexico that this organization has made efforts to continue to empower the local indigenous women? Also, I am interested in the resources your organization offers the women and can you share some of your major recent accomplishments? I admire the efforts and impacts this organization has made to empower the women in Mexico and to change male perspective on women. Thank you for all the work you have done to change the lives of some of these women.
    Isis Carrillo

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