Rocio Montalvo shares her roadmap for how Mexico City can become a safe place for women to thrive after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I imagine a Mexico where men care for us and protect us, but also recognize our essential role in society and allow us to raise our voices in favor of our rights.”
Mexico City has always been unsafe, especially for women. It is common for a woman to think twice about her clothes if she goes out on the street for fear of being harassed. When a woman walks down the street at night, she usually looks back to make sure that no one is following her, or she carries an object for protection should the need arise. She'll try to walk in the opposite direction of cars and to not be distracted by her phone or headphones. She will do anything to be completely aware of her surroundings. In the end, no matter what she wears, someone will whistle at her or shout some unpleasant "compliment" at her.
The danger, however, does not end when she steps indoors. Between January and June 2021, during the COVID-19 lock down in Mexico City, the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection reported 41,620 emergency calls related to domestic violence incidents. Surely thousands more did not dare to report.
What, then, does the Mexico I imagine after the 2020 pandemic look like?
I imagine a Mexico where women can walk down the street at any time without fear of being harassed, stalked, abused, or even murdered. I imagine a Mexico where men care for us and protect us, but also recognize our essential role in society and allow us to raise our voices in favor of our rights. I imagine a Mexico where women have important roles in politics, in universities, and in business. A Mexico that does not see women as inferior, but as equal in dignity, capabilities, and opportunities.
I imagine a Mexico where violence is never the answer, where women are not afraid to go out on the streets or to return home, safe in the knowledge that they will receive the affection of their families and the rest they so desperately need. I imagine a Mexico where there is true freedom of transit, freedom of thought, and, above all, a Mexico where everyone’s right to live a life free of violence is respected.
How, then, can we make this Mexico a reality?
The problem lies, in large part, in the vision that men have of women, themselves, and their roles in society. Taking care of and protecting women is not the same as limiting them and wanting to subordinate them to the will of men. We must educate men about women’s essential role in society and in their own lives.
Men must be trained in the healthy expression of their emotions. The concept that men should always remain firm and impassive without showing their feelings should be set aside. It is for this reason that in the face of any displeasure, they end up exploding.
Women cannot continue to be taught that they must remain silent and obey men to get ahead. Instead, we should train women in self-esteem and self-defense, physically and psychologically. From an early age, both men and women must be taught about limits and consent, that they must be attentive to identify violence in all its expressions.
As women, we must encourage companionship and support among all of us. No one is exempt from suffering this violence; therefore, we must always be ready to protect each other, help each other, and not judge each other. We must understand once and for all that the victim is never to blame.
Let's remember this great quote by Brigham Young: “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” That is how important the role of women is in society.
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