The 2011 UNDP Human Development Index score for the country is 0.775, placing it 61st (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.382. Mexico's World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index score for 2013 is 0.692, putting it in 68th place (out of a total of 136 countries).[1]

The Federal Constitution of the United States of Mexico establishes under Article 4 that women and men are equal under the law. The most recent federal reform for the promotion of gender equality, the 2007 Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia (General Law of Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence), was preceded by the National Development Plan 2001-2006 (PND). The 2001 PND marked the creation of the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES) and aimed to address all issues regarding women’s social, political and civil rights. The commitment was “to rectify previous injustices or exclusive biases; provide food security; promote educational capacity and the ability to generate incomes; facilitate access to land ownership, housing and credit; and strengthen capacity to participate in decision-making.”[2]


[1] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 280 [2] CEDAW (2006), p. 79


The statutory minimum age of marriage for women and men is established at the state level in Mexico. Sixteen states require that both spouses are 18 years old (Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Colima, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Zacatecas, Distrito Federal de Mexico); four states require that both spouses are 16 years old (Chiapas, Jalisco, Morelos, Puebla). In the state of Baja California Sur, the minimum legal age is 16 for women and 18 for men; in 11 states, the legal age is 14 for women and 16 for men (Baja California, Campeche, Chihuahua, Durango, México, Michoacán de Ocampo, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Tabasco, Veracruz, Yucatán). In April 2013, the Federal Chamber of Deputies urged the state legislatures toincrease the minimum age of marriage to 18, as stipulated by the international accords signed by Mexico.[3] The Committee of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recommended increasing the legal age of marriage to 18 in 2006.[4]

In regards to early marriage, recent data revealed that 22.9% of Mexican women were married before the age of 18 from 2000-2011.[5]

Marriage for same-sex couples has been legalised in two Mexican states: the Federal District of Mexico[6] and Quintana Roo.[7] Moreover, in 2012, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that state provisions proscribing same-sex marriages are unconstitutional[8]based on the constitutional principle of equality and that states should define marriage as a union between “two people” and not between a man and a woman.[9]

Federal law provides that women and men have equal decision-making authority over children during marriage and that both women and men can be the head of the household under articles 164-168 of the Federal Civil Code.[10] According to federal law, parents have equal rights in terms of parental authority after divorce.[11]

The Civil Code provides women equal inheritance rights as wives[12]and as daughters.[13] There is evidence suggesting that widows are often subject to discrimination whenever the Community Assemblies are designated as the final institution for arbitrage in the case of hereditary conflict. These informal institutions tend to resist changes imposed by the legislation. Moreover, male children tend to be privileged over females, unless the female did not receive a wedding endowment.[14]


The Federal Civil Code states that women and men have equal rights to initiate divorce under Article 269.[15] The custody of the children will be decided in their best interest by a federal court, as established under Articles 283-285 of the Federal Civil Code.

A 2008 study published by the Revista Mexicana de Sociología (Mexican Journal of Sociology), revealed an increase in marriage dissolutions in the past 30 years and then attributed this trend to an increased economic and social independence of women and to evidence showing that Mexicans are moving away from traditional gender roles.[16]

[3] Mexico’s Federal Chamber of Deputies (n.d.) 4] Recommendation 41, CEDAW (2006), p. 60 [5] Gender Equality Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (2012), p. 20 6] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 69 7] Quintana Roo’s Civil Code defines marriage as a union between “persons”, not woman and man 8] In this case, it was Oaxaca State’s Civil Code Article 143, which defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman that was contested 9] Amparo En Revisión 581/2012, (accessed 11/02/2014) 10] (accessed 10/02/2014) 11] Articles 283-285 of the Federal Civil Code 12] Articles 1624-1629 13] Articles 1602 and 1607 14] FAO (n.d.) [15 (accessed 10/02/2014) 16] Ojeda et al. (2008), pp. 142-143


Mexico’s homicide rate has increased from 7 per 100,000 in 2002 to 23.7 today, much higher than the OECD average of 2.2 and the highest in the OECD. In Mexico, men are far more likely to be murder victims than women, as the homicide rate is 44.5 for men compared with 4.8 for women. While men are at a greater risk of being victims of assaults and violent crimes, women report lower feelings of security than men. This has been explained by a greater fear of sexual attacks, the feeling they must also protect their children and their concern that they may be seen as partially responsible.[17]

Femicide has been a punishable offence in Mexico since 2007 through the passing of the Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia (General Law of Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence)[18]According to ECLAC, this law belongs to a newer trend in gender-based violence legislation in Latin America, which aims to go beyond protecting women from domestic violence by also guaranteeing a violence-free life for women in general.[19] In addition, 8.8% of the budget allocated for Women and Gender Equality is directed to fighting gender-based violence.[20] Complaints can be filed in 3,347 state agencies and 157 federal agencies. At the federal level, these cases are also received by the Special Office of the Attorney General for Crimes against Women and the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Trafficking in Persons and Violence against Women Offenses, which was created in 2008.[21]

Before the 2007 law, domestic violence was addressed by the programme PROEQUIDAD within INMUJERES. From 2001, PROEQUIDAD provided a national framework for co-ordinated action against violence against women through the creation of the Institutional Panel to Co-ordinate Preventive Action and Attention to Domestic Violence and Violence against Women. This effort resulted in the creation of specific programmes in 16 states.[22] More recently, Article 38 of the 2007 Law for Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence established the creation of the Integral Programme to Prevent, Address, Sanction and Eradicate Violence against Women[23]The Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres (CONAVIM, National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women) is charged with executing this plan and with ensuring the proper co-ordination between all the local entities. CONAVIM’s activities include prevention plans, surveillance of lower-level entities, reporting to the Secretary of Governance, analysing and assessing the current policies, etc.[24]

Personnel charged with receiving domestic violence complaints receive special sensitisation training. The victims are entitled to free legal services provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Special Office for Violence against Women Offenses and Trafficking in Persons.[25] The latter also created the National Directory of Care Centres for Victims of Violence against Women and Trafficking in Persons (DINCEAVIT), which provides information about safety centres for domestic violence victims.[26] These centres exist in 25 of the 32 federal states. Between 2008 and 2009, 17 shelters and 127 outpatient care centres were established. Also in 2009, there were 13 Homes for Indigenous Women overseen by the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. The Office of the Attorney General also established a shelter for victims of Trafficking in Persons.[27] A 24-hour hotline called “Life without Violence” is provided by INMUJERES, which disseminates information about available services.[28]

In 2006, 46%of women aged older than 15, have been victims of violence by their spouses or partners.[29] After the 2011 survey, a forum was held with specialists of the Regional Multidisciplinary Research Centre of the National University of Mexico, the College of Mexico, the Chamber of Deputies, the Education Secretariat, the Social Development Secretariat and the National Population Council.[30] The Subsistema Automatizado de Lesiones y Causas de Violencia (Subsystem to Record Injuries and Causes of Violence) of the Health Secretary, reported 2,768 cases of domestic violence between December 2009 and April 2010.[31]

Rape is addressed by the 2007 Violence against Women Law and also by the Federal Penal Code. The 2007 Law for Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence defines sexual violence as any act which degrades or harms the body and/or sexuality of the victim, attacking her/his liberty, dignity and physical integrity. Moreover, it is described as an expression of abuse of power which implies male supremacy over women as it denigrates them and conceives them as objects. The Federal Penal Code defines rape as using physical or moral violence to force another person to engage in the sexual act, regardless of the victim’s sex. Furthermore, the Federal Penal Code sets the punishment as 8 to 20 years of imprisonment.[32] Marital rape is also taken into account by the Federal Penal Code.[33] Additionally, 20 states have incorporated marital rape as an offense in their legislation.[34]

The Nationwide Survey on Household Relations (2006) found that 39.7% of women aged 15 and older have been subject to some sort of public aggression of sexual character[35]and 5.4% of the total female population have been victims of rape.[36]

Article 13 of the 2007 General Law for Women’s Access to a Life free of Violence penalises sexual harassment in the workplace and in educational environments. It is defined as “lascivious behaviours” in the forms of verbal or physical harassment. All 31 states and the Federal District define sexual harassment in their legislation.[37]

According to a 2012 study by the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Technological Institute for Higher Education of Monterrey), the different states and the Federal District define sexual harassment differently. While some only account for harassment when the victim is a subordinate to the perpetrator, other states define harassment between equals. In addition, some states provide for heightened punishment when the victim is a minor, a person with disabilities or a government official.[38] The same study affirms that punishment for sexual harassment can vary from 3 days to 10 years of imprisonment.[39]

The Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares (ENDIREH, Nationwide Survey on Household Relations) was conducted by National Statistical and Geographical Institute (INEGI) in 2003, 2006 and 2011, with the objective of compiling information on the various forms of violence committed against women in the household, in school, in the workplace and in the community. INEGI reported in 2006 that 12.5% of women who are employed nationwide have been victims of harassment in the workplace.[40] The percentage is more significant in certain states (between 15% and 17.2% in Quintana Roo, Querétaro Arteaga, Puebla and Jalisco).[41] More specifically, 29.3% of the surveyed women reported being subject to humiliation and denigration in the workplace on the grounds of their gender; 6.7% were subject to indecent proposals in exchange for better working conditions; 4.2% commented they were victims of physical abuse; 4.1% were the target of retaliation for refusing sexual advances; 3.3% were stroked or fondled without consent; and 0.3% were forced to have sex.[42]In terms of harassment in educational settings, this survey also found that at the national level 15.7% of women suffered humiliation, physical violence and sexual advances in exchange for grades or were forced to have sex or engage in obscene behaviour. Moreover, the study helped to understand that most of the attacks on the women come from school authorities, 64.0%, and 41.0% from peers.[43]


Abortion is only available in Mexico to save a woman’s life and in case of rape.[44]Despite a 2010 Supreme Court decision requiring states to provide emergency contraception and access to abortion for victims of rape, considerable obstacles continue to hinder women’s access to abortions after sexual violence, for instance lack of information and intimidation by officials.[45]


[17] OECD (2014) [18] Gender Equality Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (2012), p. 12; OAS (2012), pp. 18, 107 [19] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), p. 35 [20] OAS (2012), p. 182 [21] Second Hemispheric Report on the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention 2012, p. 150 [22] CEDAW (2002) p. 2 (Supplement No. 38 (A/57/38) [23] OAS (2012), p. 137 [24] (accessed 24/03/2014) [25] OAS (2012), p. 158 [26] OAS (2012), p. 163 [27] OAS (2012), p. 172 [28] OAS (2012), pp. 172, 177 [29] Mexico’s Federal Government (2012) [30] Gender Equality Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (2012), p. 16 [31] OAS (2012), p. 197 [32] Article 6.5 [33] Article 265bis [34] OAS (2012), pp. 18, 116 [35] INEGI (2006), Introduction [36] INEGI(2006), p. 6 [37] OAS (2012), p. 116 [38] Palomino (2012), pp. 142-144 [39] Palomino (2012), p. 148 [40] The results of 2011 are not yet available online [41] INEGI (2006), p. 12 [42] INEGI(2006), p. 13 [43] INEGI(2006) [44]‎ (accessed 06/05/2014) [45] Human Rights Watch (2013)  


The male-to-female sex ratio at birth in 2013 is 1.05 and for the working age population (15-64 years old) is 0.94.[46]There is no evidence to suggest that Mexico is a country of concern in relation to missing women.


In 2011, there were more boys out of school than girls. [47] UNICEF offers data on education from 2008 to 2012. More girls were enrolled in pre-primary education than boys. The gender gap in primary and secondary education is very small, slightly benefiting females in secondary education.[48] According to 2011 data, there is barely any difference between the literacy rates of male and female youth aged 15 to 24.[49]


[46] (accessed 28/03/2014) [47] World Bank (n.d.) [48] (accessed 1/04/2014) [49] World Bank (n.d.)


The Federal Constitution of Mexico guarantees the right of citizens to own land.[54] There are no legal restrictions impeding women from legally owning land.

Women employed by the government are entitled to several benefits, including financial loans for the acquisition of housing and land, as part of their affiliation to the Government Employee Social Security and Services Institute (ISSSTE).[55]

In 2002, The Ministry for Agrarian Reform (SRA) and the National Communal Land Trust Fund (FIFONAFE) created the Agrarian Development Funding Programme, in order to empower indigenous farmer women and support them in their productive projects within their communities, while promoting sustainable use of natural resources. From 2002 to early 2004, 3,174 jobs had been created benefiting 16,550 people[56]

According to FAO, customs, regardless of the law, continue to restrict women’s access to land.[57]

While Article 2 of the Federal Civil Code establishes equality for women and men in the access and exercise of their civil rights, under Article 830 of the Federal Civil Code all citizens have the right to own and dispose of property, and under Article 164 married women and men have equal rights to access and make decisions over non-land assets.

No evidence was found of limitations and restrictions to women’s right to access and benefit from financial services in federal legislation.[58]The 2007 General Law of Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence defines economic violence as the mechanisms aimed at reinforcing male power in the household and limiting women’s access to productive activities.[59] Despite this normative framework, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported in 2012 that, in practice, financial institutions do not typically give credit to women on their own; they require husbands or fathers to co-sign loan applications.[60] Moreover, while 33% of men have an account in a formal financial institution, only 22% of women do.[61]

Mexico’s programme Oportunidades was created in 1998 to foster a more equitable distribution of wealth by enabling low-income families to overcome any barriers in accessing health services, proper nutrition and education.[62] Oportunidades was to follow the standards set by the Gender Unit of the National Institute for Social Development (INDESOL), as established in the Basic Procedural Guide, in order to facilitate review and introduction of the gender perspective.[63]Part of the gender approach included in Oportunidades was to enhance women’s access to income-generating projects and the management of transfers. The result for empowered women was a transformation of the structure of household expenditure in favour of better nutrition and an enhanced well-being of women.[64]

Almost half (47%) of Mexico’s micro-entrepreneurs are women. However, women tend to work at home, which means that 55.4% of their microbusinesses do not have their own premises compared with 26% of the businesses run by men.[65]For example, Pro Mujer is a microfinance institute that facilitates women’s access to credit. Its objective is to lift women out of poverty through a mix of services: Pro Mujer provides business and leadership training, preventive health education and primary healthcare services to women. [66]


[54] Article 2.6 [55] CEDAW (2006), p. 126 [56] CEDAW (2006), p. 33 [57] FAO (n.d.) [58] World Bank (2013) [59] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), p. 24 [60] GERA (2013), p. 23 [61] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 280  [62] Oportunidades (n.d.) [63] CEDAW (2006) p. 9 [64] CEDAW (2006) p. 11 [65] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 53; INEGI (2009) [66] Learn more about Promujer at: 


There is no evidence of the existence of laws which affect women's free access to public space and freedom of movement.

Freedom of expression is protected under Article 6 of the Federal Constitution. The right to public collective action and freedom of assembly are protected under Article 9. These rights are granted to all citizens, regardless of gender.

A 2002 historical study asserts, in its concluding comments, that sexist and traditionalist cultures have historically hindered women’s collective action. Nonetheless, the feminist activists who first engaged in women’s movements in the 1960s continue to participate in collective action (e.g. the defence of indigenous women) and in the debates about discrimination against women within the Chamber of Deputies.[67]

Regarding political voice, Mexican women were granted the right to vote in 1947.[68] According to OECD data, there is little difference in the voting rates of men and women in Mexico, where the voter turnout of men and women is similar, at respectively 65% and 61%.[69] 

In 1953 Mexican women were given the right to vote and in 1954 Aurora Jiménez Palacios was the first female member of Congress; however Mexico has never had a female head of state.[70] Quotas exist at the national and sub-national levels to promote women's political participation. According to ECLAC, following the most recent reforms (2008), Mexico saw an increase of 14% in female participation in the Federal Congress.[71] Moreover, women occupied 36.8% of parliamentary seats in 2013.[72]Since 2012, women occupy 184 out of 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In the Senate, there are 42 women, out of 128 seats since 2012. Political parties that do not democratically elect their candidates are required to guarantee that at least 40% of their candidates to the Chamber of Deputies and to the Senate are of a different gender. At the sub-national level, in 2009, 18 of the 32 Mexican states had enacted quota laws for the state legislative bodies.[73]

In terms of representation of women in local governments, ECLAC reported in 2010 an increase of the proportion of women mayors from 1998 to 2000. While there were 5 female mayors in 1998, in 2000 there were 9.[74]


In the area of workplace rights, the Secretary of Labour and Social Security issued a gender mainstreaming policy[75]to all public offices and departments, private enterprises, and trade unions towards gender equality. The document serves as a reference for auditors and institutions by establishing the standards to be attained in the workplace.[76]

The WEF reported in 2013 an improvement in the percentage of female professional and technical workers.[77] Nevertheless, according to OECD data, women’s participation in the labour market is less significant than that of men. In Mexico, 43% of women have jobs. This is less than the OECD average of 60% and much less than the 78% employment rate of men in Mexico. This 35 percentage point gender difference is much higher than the OECD average of 12 percentage points and suggests employment opportunities for women could be improved.[78]

Women enjoy a total of 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, 100% of their salary, for 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after birth. There is no paternity leave at the federal level though some federal institutions have related provisions.[79]

People spend one-tenth to one-fifth of their time on unpaid work. The distribution of tasks within the family is still influenced by gender roles: men are more likely to spend more hours in paid work, while women spend longer on unpaid domestic work. Men spend 113 minutes per day cooking, cleaning or caring, which is below the OECD average of 131 minutes for men; in comparison, women spend 373 minutes per day on average on domestic work. 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 43% of women,[80] with higher female part-time employment: 28% compared to 13% for men.[81]

According to the 2010 report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean during the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico recognises unpaid work(it is unclear whether this appears in the Constitution or legislation).[82] The unequal distribution of domestic work between women and men also explains why women working independently dedicate fewer hours, on average, to paid work than men. This is the case, for example, for self-employed women, whereas women who are employers work almost the same number of hours as male employers and tend to earn more than the self-employed.[83]

[67] Bartra et al. (2002), pp. 40-41 [68] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 281 [69] OECD (2014) [70] Rodriguez (2014); World Economic Forum (2013), p. 62 [71] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), p. 41 [72] OECD (2014), Gender, Institutions and Development Database, [73] The Quota Project (2013) [74] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), p. 42 [75] Standard NMX-025-SCFI-2009 [76] (accessed 13/02/2014) [77] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 27 [78] OECD (2014) [79] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 70 [80] OECD (2014) [81] World Economic Forum (2013), p. 280 [82] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010) p. 8 [83] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), p. 59



Amnesty International (2011),

Bartra, Eli and Anna M. Fernández Poncela (2002), Feminismo en México, ayer y hoy. Colleción Molinos de Viento. Serie Mayor.

CEDAW (2002), Supplement No. 38 (A/57/38), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

CEDAW (2006), Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Sixth periodic report of States parties. Mexico.

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan (2014), (accessed 02/11/2014).

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010), What kind of State? What kind of equality?.

FAO (n.d.), FAO Gender and Land Rights Database, (accessed 24/03/2014).

Gender Equality Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (2012), Annual Report 2012.

GERA (2013), Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report, Global Entrepreneurship Research Association.

Human Rights Watch (2013), (accessed 02/13/2014).

INEGI (2006), Panorama de violencia contra las mujeres en los Estados Unidos Mexicanos,  Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática,

INEGI (2009), ENAMIN, Encuesta Nacional de Micronegocios 2008, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática, Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social, Mexico City.

León, Magdalena (2011), La desigualdad de género en la propiedad de la tierra en América Latina. In Du grain à moudre. Genre, développement rural et alimentation. (Dir.) C. Verschuur. 189-207. Actes des colloques genre et développement. Berne: DDC-National Swiss Commission for UNESCO; Geneva: IHEID.

Mexico’s Federal Chamber of Deputies (n.d.), Mexico’s Federal Chamber of Deputies official website, (accessed 02/10/2014).

Mexico’s Federal Government (2012), Programa Integral Para Prevenir, Atender, Sancionar Y Erradicar La Violencia Contra Las Mujeres,

Mexico’s Supreme Court (2012), Ruling, Amparo En Revisión 581/2012, (accessed 02/11/2014).

OAS (2012), Second Hemispheric Report on the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention 2012, Organization of American States, MESECVI.

OECD (2014), OECD Better Life Index, (accessed 24/03/2014).

Ojeda, Norma and Eduardo González Fagoaga (2008), Divorcio y separación conyugal en México en los albores del siglo XXI. 2008. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México-Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales. Revista Mexicana de Sociología 70,núm. 1 (enero-marzo, 2008): 111-145 (accessed 02/11/2014).

Oportunidades (n.d.), Oportunidades Programme official website, (accessed 02/13/2014).

Palomino, Francisco (2012), Acoso Sexual En México: Análisis Y Propuestas. En-claves del Pensamiento. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, (accessed 02/11/2014).

Rodríguez, M. M. V. (2014). La participación de la mujer en la política y la administración.

The Quota Project (2013), Global Database of Quotas for Women,

UN Women (2012), Violencia feminicida en México. Características, tendencias y nuevas expresiones en las entidades federativas, 1985-2010.

World Bank (n.d.), World Bank Development Indicators Database, (accessed 1/04/2014).

World Bank (2013), (accessed 02/11/2014).

World Economic Forum (2013), The Global Gender Gap Report 2013.


Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority During Marriage: 
Parental Authority After Divorce: 
Inheritance Rights For Widows: 
Inheritance Rights For Daughters: 
Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women: 
Prevalence Of Domestic Violence: 
Laws Addressing Domestic Violence: 
Laws Addressing Rape: 
Laws Addressing Sexual Harassment: 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Autonomy: 
Not Applicable
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Secure Access To Land: 
Secure Access To Non-Land Assets: 
Access To Financial Services: 
Very Low
Access To Public Space: 
Political Quotas: 
Political Participation: