On March 8, International Women’s Day, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) declared:
I think that the slogan, ‘the fourth transformation must be feminist or it won’t be,’ is already behind us, because the fourth transformation is feminist. In fact, this has already been achieved. It was a struggle for many years of women and the democratic movement and now what we have to do is to consolidate the transformation of the country, to consummate the transformation that we have started.
During the speech, the president was surrounded by representatives from his government which is known as the Fourth Transformation, or 4T. Among them was Claudia Sheimbaum, a presumed favorite for presidency in 2024, and many female legislators and high-ranking officials from his cabinet. He declared feminism has been achieved based on the neoliberal ideal of allowing a select few to enter spaces of power.
Additionally, President Obrador stated that it was mostly women that depended on welfare programs, scholarships, and pensions — a truism, as women in Mexico and around the world make up the majority of those living in poverty. But beyond his grandiose speech, the truth is that these social programs are not enough to end poverty.
The statement that feminism has been achieved is being used cynically to obscure the government’s long history of indifference toward the growing violence against women, and its fierce outspokenness against Mexico’s feminist protests.
While the 4T government is calling for equality, it is actively working against this, fighting instead on behalf of capitalists. Obrador’s government condemns workers’ strikes, like the one by SutNotimex workers which has been going on for three years now. Additionally, the 4T has maintained and deepened labor precarity, which hits women workers especially hard. In Mexico, women are often the sole earners in families, working double or triple shifts due to patriarchal norms that force women to take charge of all care and domestic work on top of their waged labor.
We ask President Obredor and his government: What equality can be earned without attacking head-on the interests of Mexican business and its transnationals? While AMLO is famously quoted saying that “many have little and few have much,” we nonetheless find countless images of the president standing alongside tycoons such as Ricardo Salinas Pliego and Carlos Slim, two of Mexico’s richest people. His recent agreement with Elon Musk for the construction of the new Tesla megaplant in Nuevo León is yet another example of his true priorities.
This March 8 showed that, despite the 4T’s oppositions to women’s protest, maneuvers to silence us, inaction of the union bureaucracies, and the mainstream media narratives to keep us waiting for someone to solve the problems for us, the indignation and weariness of the people will be expressed in the streets. The purple wave is alive and larger than ever. There is a will to mobilize against femicides, to live without fear.
For that reason, the fight against gendered violence, militarization, and labor precarity will be fought by the masses, not the so called “progressive” government in Mexico. It is necessary we, the workers and youth, organize ourselves independently of the government and all the parties in Congress. Because we can no longer delegate our future to others, to confront every expression of exploitation and oppression, we have the challenge of forging our own political tools to defend the interests of those at the bottom.
Originally published in Spanish on March 9 in La Izquierda Diario México.
Translation by Kimberly Ann