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Mexican Machismo on the Run

So many of the men in the Mexican state of Zacatecas have left to work in the US that women now dominate much of public life there. (About half of the state's 3 million citizens have migrated north.) On Sunday, this demographic gender bender helped elect Mexico's first female governor in 15 years - and, notably, the first since Mexicans threw off seven decades of single-party rule in 2000.

Even though Amalia Garcia is the daughter of a former governor of Zacatecas, she's made a name for herself. She abandoned her father's party, the PRI, and became head of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. A former communist, she's now a leading advocate for women's rights, democracy, and efforts against graft.

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Giving Mexican women the courage to vote for female candidates has been only half the struggle. The women's movement hasn't achieved the same success as in the US in cracking the notion that women belong only in the home. Still, more than a fifth of the lower house is female, and Mexico City recently had a female governor. What's more, the latest scandal arose after the resignation of President Vicente Fox's chief aide over the first lady's apparent ambitions to be president.

As more women gain higher education and become breadwinners, they've also found a place in politics. The gains have been uneven so far, and women politicians themselves sometimes drag each other down. But Mexico's future depends to a large degree on this necessary trend. Perhaps Mexico might beat the US in someday electing a female president.


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