First woman elected Mexico City mayor

Updated July 03, 2018

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MEXICO CITY: Claudia Sheinbaum, a Jewish scientist, environmentalist and left-wing politician, became the first woman ever to be elected Mexico City mayor on Monday. She won the election to lead the capital with between 47.5 and 55.5 per cent of the vote, according to the polling firm Mitofsky.

She will not be the first woman to govern Mexico City — Rosario Robles held the job on an interim basis from 1999 to 2000, after her boss, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, resigned to run for president. But it is a historic electoral win in a country with deep-rooted problems of gender inequality and violence against women.

Sheinbaum surged into office on the coat-tails of the anti-establishment leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. She was among the first politicians to leave Mexico’s established left-wing party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and join Lopez Obrador’s breakaway, Morena, when he formally launched it in 2014.

The following year, she won election as district mayor of Mexico City’s Tlalpan neighboUrhood, Lopez Obrador’s own district and one of the 16 “delegations” that make up the sprawling capital of more than nine million people.

Born into a family of scientists, Sheinbaum studied physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, earning a doctorate in energy engineering and going on to work as a consultant for the United Nations. She was active in the university’s student movement, which rose up against an unpopular series of reforms at the institution in 1986.

She married fellow student activist Carlos Imaz in 1987. Imaz was among the most recognisable faces of the Mexican left, also governing the Tlalpan district, until in 2004, he was one of several top officials caught on camera accepting large sums of cash. He avoided jail time, but resigned and faded from politics. The couple separated in 2016. They have a daughter.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018