Mexico, long lagging in gender equality, nominates first female attorney general
Following the resignation of Mexico's attorney general Thursday, Marisela Morales was quickly nominated to fill the post. Michelle Obama recently lauded her 'unfailing drive.'
Mexican President Felipe Calderón wasted no time in accepting the resignation of his attorney general and nominating Marisela Morales, currently the head of an investigative division on organized crime, to fill her boss's shoes.Skip to next paragraph
Ms. Morales, who has received recent accolades from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama for her "unfailing drive," would bring a fresh face to a position tainted by failures to tackle impunity in a drug war that has killed more than 35,000 people since 2006.
If ratified by the Mexican Senate, Morales would be the first woman to hold the male-dominated post – the significance of which would resonate widely in a nation that lags behind the region in terms of gender equality. Mexico places 91 on the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Report, one of the lowest rankings in Latin America and only better than Belize, Suriname, and Guatemala.
“It is incredibly important because the attorney general is one of the positions most associated with traditional male roles – the issuance of justice,” says Gina Zabludovsky, an expert on women’s leadership at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Morales has worked with Mexico’s justice system throughout her career. Last month she was given a 2011 International Women of Courage Award in a ceremony headed by Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama.
“The work that she is doing is dangerous,” Clinton said at the ceremony. “It is among the most important work that can be done in her country. President Calderón and the Government of Mexico are committed in the fight against violence and the drug traffickers and criminal organizations. And she has shown an unfailing drive to combat organized crime and corruption, and a valiant dedication to the protection of citizen security and human rights.”
She would take over from Arturo Chávez Chávez, who stepped down Thursday evening after 18 months. He is the second attorney general to have stepped down during the six-year term of Calderón. He cited personal issues.