Mexico’s First Female President: A Beacon of Hope for Afghan Women Commentary
Mexico’s First Female President: A Beacon of Hope for Afghan Women
Edited by: JURIST Staff

President Claudia Sheinbaum’s electoral victory in Mexico serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for women and girls in Afghanistan. Her historic win as Mexico’s first female president is all the more remarkable given that her Jewish faith; the fact that Jews comprise a tiny minority in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation was a non-issue during the campaign.

Sheinbaum’s impressive background includes a doctorate in energy engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where she both studied and worked after obtaining her PhD. An active participant in student politics, she also co-authored a UN report on climate change mitigation that earned her the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a member of Morena, Mexico’s largest left-wing political party, which champions human rights and diversity, Sheinbaum became the first woman elected Head of Mexico City’s Tlalpan district in 2015. She served in this role until 2017 before becoming the city’s Mayor the following year. During her tenure as Mayor, Mexico City’s homicide rate dropped by a remarkable 50% between December 2018 and June 2023, a success she attributes to effective security policies that enhanced police work and coordination with prosecutors.

President Sheinbaum’s story serves as a powerful example for Afghanistan, a nation in turmoil since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021. The fundamentalist group’s regime swiftly eroded human rights, freedom, and democracy, with women and girls bearing the brunt of their oppressive rule.

Today, Afghanistan stands on the precipice of total collapse, with international non-profit organizations warning of a humanitarian and hunger crisis affecting 90% of the population. This dire situation is further compounded by the devastating impacts of climate change, manifesting in floods, earthquakes, and droughts.

Under the Taliban’s Gender Apartheid State, women and girls face systematic persecution and the violation of their rights. They have been removed from high-ranking government positions, barred from participating in politics, and subjected to work bans that have forced the closure of many women-run businesses. Experts are working to classify the situation as a crime against humanity.

The education system lies in ruins, with girls above grade 6 banned from attending school and women prohibited from pursuing university studies. The Taliban has overhauled curricula to align with their extremist Islamic beliefs, emphasizing the training of the next generation for Jihad and suicide attacks. Many academics have fled the country, unable to work under the repressive regime.

The judicial system offers no respite, with human rights and women’s organizations non-existent. Women face arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, torture, rape, and even disappearance without accountability. Ethnic and religious minorities also face the constant threat of genocide, attacked in the streets, schools, and places of worship.

Amidst this unrelenting oppression, the mental health crisis has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among young women and girls confined to their homes. Suicides and attempts have skyrocketed, with Afghanistan now considered one of the world’s saddest places to live.

After three years of this living hell, Afghan women and men are desperately seeking a solution to their plight, but the prospects for positive change under the Taliban appear bleak. Women both inside Afghanistan and in exile have been tirelessly working to pressure the Taliban to end their oppressive and aggressive policies, protesting in the streets, from their homes, and on online platforms, often at great personal risk.

The international community, United Nations, and world leaders must exert pressure on the Taliban to hold free and fair elections or face removal from power. The people of Afghanistan dream of a woman like President Claudia Sheinbaum rising to lead the nation and heal the wounds of half the population suffering under the Taliban’s stone-age decrees.

The question remains: Is there an Afghan woman of such determination, strength, and integrity, with a background respected by the people, who can unite the country and lead it out of this dark chapter, regardless of her minority status?

The author is an Afghan legal scholar whose identity cannot be revealed due to security threats. 

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