On Monday, May 20th, The Forbes Forum for Powerful Women took place in Mexico City where through multiple discussions, panels, speakers and general consensus: women are here to revolutionize how you think of them in politics, business and more.
Last week, the Alabama Senate signed the most restrictive abortion law to date, women soar to use their voices in social platforms and shared their ‘disgust’ at what 25 white middle-aged American men had done. Challenging 1973 Roe v. Wade, this bill bans abortion at every stage, disregards exceptions of conceptions coming from rape or incest and could result in jail time for doctors performing the procedure. As a woman, the results of this are not only scary as a representative of how our legal system works with zero to none space for a woman’s voice to be heard in the creation of new laws in the political spectrum – from any type to more specifically laws that directly affect the physical and mental health of women. But it was a realization that spread beyond politics, to the world.
As I sat in the Forbes Forum – I saw the most empowering women stand tall and speak to a fellow crowd who after last week’s news needed a win. A win for empowerment and for feeling in control. In Mexico City, although abortion is legal in the capital, a lot of states still criminalize it. Border states like Tijuana and Baja California reach out to the U.S. to seek professional medics, while others use underground doctors that perform the medical procedure. As a Catholic-run country – family and society stray away from the conversation towards shame and dishonor. The issue remains U.S., Mexico, or any other country. We, as a society, need to stop demonizing the aborting woman, as the ‘trauma’ of having an abortion often comes from society’s judgment rather than the act itself.
As a speaker for the Forbes Forum, Rebeca Grynspan Mayufis – Ibero-American General Secretariat, conveys the same message loud and clear, “women are to be seen as heroines and not victims”. She recalls her time in the government of Costa Rica when she had to postpone her entry to the position of Minister of Finance because she had to breastfeed her son. Society is not accustomed to having women carry out work AND tend to their family at the same time. With this in mind, Rebeca took a stand and congratulated Mexico for their efforts in gender parity law in the Senate – with Bolivia and Costa Rica having the highest gender representation in their respective government. Nevertheless, gender violence continues to be an open wound in Latin America, where 11 countries had to legislate on the figure of femicide. The word ‘femicide’ was coined in Latin America due to the high percentage of these violent acts. “Women have had to create the figure of femicide because we have not been able to mitigate the culture of violence against us. We have to know that the transformation of the community is to transform society, we must know that this struggle is not in solitude, but collective,” she added.
Furthermore, Paola Felix Diaz – Director of the Mixed Fund for Tourism Promotion of Mexico, is pushing to add daily women’s struggle to the presidential campaign. Sex tourism numbers are still high in most of Mexico’s states and rank first in the world in child pornography and distribution of pornographic material; the second place in child sex tourism. For which she is launching a campaign titled ‘¡No estás sola!’ (You are not alone!) that will implement a security alert with a base starting in 270 hotels and then hoping to spread nationwide.
Moving from politics and into business – investing in women is simply good business. Maria Noel Vaeza, Program Director at the UN Women Division stated, “Companies see a 25% rise in productivity when women are involved in the decision process”. If 50% of the global population are women, this shouldn’t be so hard right?
Overall, the message heard from these empowering women; some touching the most controversial and fresh-wound subjects while others slid through general messages – it is time that together as a community we break apart the stigmas that have made women the weaker gender, the victim, the saint, and all others. As these ‘characters’ are placed on everyday women to excuse certain behaviors that now seem like the norm. With the rise of social media platforms, it has given women space to express themselves and more exposure. By women and men equally in order to create more representative laws, security, health and basically a more equal world to live in. So for all women and girls out there, if you want a change, get involved with all the information that is available, this generation is rising up to the challenge to inspire more people and breaking taboos.
The Forbes Forum touched the topics of gender, equality, and inclusion with the objective of adding into the long-standing debate, with still a long road ahead. Forbes Latin America President says the Forum aims to inspire those young women starting their professional careers and girls who are ready to overcome any obstacle on the way.