For the first time in 200 years, a woman became president of Mexico. Claudia Sheinbaum won around 60% of the vote in the most crowded election in the North American country’s history.

Her victory is a historic achievement in a country known for its endemic machismo and deeply patriarchal culture.

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“We are going to govern for all and for all,” Sheinbaum said in her victory speech. She recognized illustrious Mexicans such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Gertrudis Bocanegra, Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, and “all the anonymous Mexican women forgers of the homeland.”

Who is Claudia Sheinbaum?

At 61, Claudia Sheinbaum, also known as “la Doctora,” is a physicist with a PhD in energy engineering. She is a former mayor of Mexico City and was part of the group of United Nations climate scientists who received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sheinbaum’s family is of Jewish origin. Her maternal grandparents emigrated from Europe, fleeing the Holocaust. Sheinbaum was born in Mexico City in 1962. She studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where she began her political career against the privatization of public education.

Sheinbaum studied energy engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on her doctoral thesis before returning to her alma mater to teach.

Mexico’s new president has two children and one grandchild.

An extensive political career

Claudia Sheinbaum has been a leftist militant all her life. She joined the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. The group would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

The now-president was Mexico City’s Secretary of the Environment in 2000. In 2014, she joined Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s dissident movement, splitting from the main leftist party. A year later, she was Secretary of the Environment. At the end of 2015, she was elected mayor of Tlalpan, a position she resigned when she received the nomination for the candidacy for Mexico City’s chief of government.

During her campaign for the post, Sheinbaum focused on fighting crime, generating employment, and maintaining the universal pension for older people.

However, during the campaign, members of the Por Mexico al Frente party accused her of being to blame for the collapse of Colegio Enrique Rébsamen, a private school in Tlalpan, during the 2017 Puebla earthquake.

Mexico City’s first female head of government

In 2018, Sheinbaum became the first woman head of government in Mexico City with 47.08% of the vote.

During her administration, she reduced the homicide rate from 17.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018 to 8.6 in 2022. He created a scholarship system for 1.2 million students and several institutes and community education centers. It also began a program to reduce air pollution by 30%.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheinbaum stuck to scientific reports, including stay-at-home policies and the use of masks.

Sheinbaum received harsh criticism for the collapse of the Mexico City Metro overpass that claimed the lives of 26 people, leaving 80 injured and five missing.

Sheinbaum’s road to the presidency

Claudia Sheinbaum resigned as mayor of Mexico City on June 16, 2023. Three months later, she was officially chosen for her party’s candidacy for the 2024 elections. Her campaign promoted gender equality and women’s rights. Sheinbaum championed reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights.

Similarly, her political proposal has been against neoliberal economic policies and the fight for economic equality. Although she had the support of López Obrador, Sheinbaum receives a country afflicted by the cartel violence that tainted the elections, considered the bloodiest in Mexico’s history. During the months of campaigning, dozens of candidates and political hopefuls were murdered by criminal organizations.

Sheinbaum also takes the reins of a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. In Mexico, more than 100,000 people remain missing, and femicide rates are among the highest in Latin America. Some 10 women are murdered every day in Mexico.

Finally, after the November elections, Sheinbaum will have to decide how to collaborate with the next U.S. president on border issues.