12162018Sun
Last updateFri, 14 Dec 2018 4pm

Columns

Gender gap in government

A major take-away from the U.S. mid-term elections was the notable advance of female politicians.

pg17According to the latest vote counts, 96 women will take seats in the next House of Representatives, 12 will serve in the Senate and nine will serve as new state governors.

Nonetheless, men remain the dominant gender in American government posts. And the same pattern holds true in this part of the world.

Jalisco Governor-elect Enrique Alfaro has come under fire from the distaff side after announcing he will disband the semi-independent Instituto Jalisciense de la Mujer, replacing it with a new organism to operate under the wing of the Ministry of Substantive Equality. While Alfaro claimed the change would guarantee compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), leading women’s rights organizations took it as a slap in the face.

The new Chapala government appears to be one a similar the same track. Under gender equality standards written into election laws, women hold five out of 11 seats on the 2018-2021 City Council. That’s the good news.

During his campaign, Mayor Moisés Anaya took flak for choosing Isaac Trejo rather than a women as a candidate for Síndico, the government’s chief legal officer. Immediately after taking office, he named men to serve as acting administrators in all five town delegaciones —Ajijic, Atotonilquillo, San Antonio Tlayacapan, San Nicolás de Ibarra and Santa Cruz de la Soledad — as well as the more modest Agencias in Hacienda de La Labor and Presa Corona. These posts could be handed over to females through public referendums to be held sometime next year.

A week later, the governing board overseeing the municipality’s DIF Family Development agency was sworn into office. With the exception of First Lady Mariana Villanueva, honorary DIF president, all members of the panel are males. So is the agency’s appointed director Angel Gálvez. Rather odd, considering that mothers and elderly women are the principal beneficiaries of DIF services.

To cap things off, Anaya formalized his cabinet appointments at a ceremony held November 7. The new government looks more like a boy’s club than a gender-balanced administrative team. Women were picked to head the offices of Human Resources, Expenditures, Citizen Participation, Coordination of Human Development and the local Women’s Institute. Beyond that, men will rule more than 50 other city hall departments.

I asked city councilor Edith González, well known as gender equality activist, for comment on the subject. She said that women are not very interested in jobs as public servants.

City Hall actually has quite a few long-time female employees, most working at the low end of the pay scale. There are hard-working ladies in thankless janitorial jobs and very sharp women assigned to secretarial posts, many of whom are far more knowledgeable, competent and helpful to the average citizen than their male bosses. I wonder if the Mayor ever considered promoting some of them to key positions.