Political violence against women and possible solutions

By Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero and Nayely Iturbe

Being a woman in Mexico is a danger. Every day eleven women are murdered simply because of their gender. This is just one more statistic that reflects the degree of systemic violence that women experience every day in the country. Despite the enormous progress that Mexico, and Latin America in general, has made in the economic, educational and political spheres, there is still an important gap to close.

Mexico is a violent country because it tolerates it. It is a violent country because violence is normalized. It is a violent country because its institutions allow it. Violence is so systemic that it affects children, women and men from all walks of life. We must change the rules of the game, from the home, from business, from politics. No type of violence should be tolerated, regardless of gender. Our institutions must make it much more difficult for violence to be exercised against citizens and women and men working in politics.

According to our ongoing research, 91 incumbent mayors and 148 former mayors have been assassinated in Mexico during 2000-2022 (Gutiérrez-Romero and Iturbe, 2022).  Most of these murdered mayors have been men (99%). Men are more likely to run for mayor and to be elected in electoral processes, and therefore have a higher risk of being assassinated. However, such high levels of political violence undoubtedly truncate the political aspirations of several groups, including women, to run for elected office.

In this blog we share our reflection on one of the articles we recently read in PEACELA, written by Krook and Restrepo Sanín (2016) on political violence against women. The article does not focus on explaining the great advances that women in Latin America have had in terms of voting rights, being able to run for elected office, or reducing educational disparities between men and women.


Krook and Restrepo Sanín (2016) instead focus on explaining how political violence affects women and propose some solutions. They explain that political violence is used to prevent women’s participation in the political sphere before, during and after elections.  They propose a new definition of gender-based political violence. So far, the literature has focused on studying the physical, sexual, and psychological violence that women face in politics. They suggest including two categories of political violence: economic and symbolic.

New concepts

Economic violence against women is the restriction of economic resources used in the political arena that are guaranteed for men. An example of this is the restriction of political campaign financing, the failure to provide offices, telephones and essential resources even after women have been elected. This type of violence can also be committed by family members or the community.

Symbolic violence refers to the limitation of women’s participation in political life because of their gender. This type of violence delegitimizes women’s political profile and performance.  The community and the media can contribute to this type of violence by referring to women in politics as incompetent, and they are reprimanded for their physical appearance.

Proposals to reduce political violence against women

– Introduce electoral gender quotas.

– Encourage the media and journalists to take training on gender equality reporting.

– Awareness campaigns to support the election of women.

– Introduce legislation against political violence and with a gender perspective.

– Use inclusive gender language to recognize the role of women.

Our reflections

Democracy requires the participation of women, not only as passive voters but also as leaders.

In addition to introducing adequate legislation that criminalizes political and gender-sensitive assassinations, it is vital to reduce impunity and tolerance of crime. Just changing laws does not work if it does not change the whole machinery around it in terms of exercising the law and providing equal opportunities.

We need more data and transparency to reveal the scale of violence. Unfortunately, there are no official sources on political assassinations or the level of intimidation that women and men suffer on a daily basis in the political arena. It is critical that candidates running for and elected to office receive adequate security.  This is an issue that requires urgent attention.  The future of democracy depends on it.

This blog, originally published in Spanish by PEACELA blog here, was written by:

Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero @Roxanagutz is an Economist and Professor of Policy and Quantitative Methods at Queen Mary University of London.

Nayely Iturbe @nayiturbel is a Sociologist and Consultant on Femicide and Gender-based Violence.


Krook, Mona Lena and Juliana Restrepo Sanín (2016) Gender and political violence in Latin America Concepts, debates and solutions, Politics and Government, 23(1): 125-157.

Gutiérrez-Romero, Roxana and Nayely Iturbe. 2022. Assassination and Intimidation of Politicians, a new database for Mexico 2000-2022, working paper.


By Brigitte Granville* – Project Syndicate


With his speech commemorating the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, President Emmanuel Macron apparently is seeking to confront all aspects of the emperor’s divisive legacy. How he manages that characteristic balancing act could reveal much about his ability to keep France’s simmering culture war from boiling over.

LONDON – By laying a wreath on Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb on the 200th anniversary of his death, French President Emmanuel Macron has stepped further into the fray of the country’s escalating culture war. Can France’s rifts be healed, or is the country really headed, as some predict, toward “deadly civil war”?

Napoleon’s legacy has long been divisive. His admirers laud……

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*Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of What Ails France

Against minimalistic Europe: More democracy and more participation to make integration stronger

By Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal

Dr Stella Ladi, programme co-director of the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and member of CGR, participated as a panellist in a debate about the recently published book Reset Europe: New directions for the EU written by Richard Youngs. The event organised by the Centre for European Research at QMUL by Sarah Wolff, CER director, started with Youngs presentation of his book and finalised with a roundtable discussion.

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The Anatomy of Populists’ Backstops across the EU.

By Jaume Martorell Cruz

In her latest article for Project Syndicate, Professor Brigitte Granville scrutinized the anatomy of the populist movements that have been gaining political ground in many western countries. Published this February and drawing on the insights of various Project Syndicate contributors, the article explained how these different movements have a similar zero sum view of the world and pointed to the then forthcoming elections in the Netherlands and France as bellwethers.

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