chapter  13
12 Pages

Gender, Democracy and Federalism in Mexico: Implications for Reproductive Rights and Social Policy

ByLaura Macdonald, Lisa Mills

This chapter examines the scepticism of most Latin Americanist scholars as well as many contributors about the inherently democratic nature of federalism. It also examines the implications of the process of decentralisation in two diverse policy areas: reproductive rights and abortion rights; and anti-poverty policy. The chapter presents debate about the implications of decentralisation in Mexico for women and women's movements. Mexican women's economic and political marginalisation is echoed in their invisibility in discussions on federalism in Mexico. The centralisation of the political opportunity structure in Mexico had an important impact on the historical evolution of the Mexican women's movement. Policies to reduce the still high level of poverty in Mexico have also experienced a gradual process of decentralisation, a process that displays important gender dimensions. The cases of abortion rights policy and anti-poverty policy in Mexico thus reveal the ambiguous and contradictory impact of federalism and decentralisation in Mexico, and the still limited character of the democratisation process.