Ambassador Barcena’s Initial Remarks at International Women’s Day Salute 2020


I want to thank Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, Jodi Greene, for putting together this important panel.


One of Mexico’s most notable writers of the 20th Century, Rosario Castellanos, who also served as an ambassador to Israel, wrote many insightful cultural observations about women’s rights, gender inequality and the role of women in society. She wrote a book ironically called A Woman Who Speaks Latin, whose title comes from an old popular saying that mentioned that “a woman who knows Latin neither has a husband nor comes to a good end” which reflects, in striking detail, some of the attitudes on women that were prevalent just half a century ago.


It is no secret that women around the world, including notable strategists and people involved in conflict resolution, have historically faced a series of structural obstacles that are now identified and discussed publicly. Moreover, we still live in a world where women face exclusion from peace and political processes, and were xenophobia, homophobia and violent misogyny continue to spread.

Discussions like the one we’re having tonight were a rarity more than thirty years ago when I started my diplomatic career. Tonight, I commend this valuable initiative because it allows us to keep the focus on why gender perspective and gender equality matter.


The transformation of unequal societies needs to be seen as an ongoing effort that is sustained by both women and men. The bottom-up demands that are prevalent around many countries now need to be met with a bold and urgent top-down approach from the people in power.


I am now proud to serve as the first female ambassador of Mexico to the United States, as great strides have been made towards gender equality in the last decades, even though there is still a lot of work to promote women’s rights and to ensure the full and meaningful participation of women across all decision-making contexts.


Mexico, in particular, has played an active role promoting gender equality in regional and multilateral fora, for almost 40 years now, since Mexico City hosted the First International Conference of Women in 1975.

Mexico has been a committed promoter of the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda, created by resolution 1325 adopted 20 years ago by the UN Security Council.


Today, the correlation between gender inequality and a society’s propensity for civil or inter-State conflict is well established. That is why women must be guaranteed the right to participate significantly in all peace processes.


Mexico expects to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2021-2022. If elected, Mexico has pledged to push forward the entire “Women, Peace and Security” agenda. Forty percent of the Mexican navy and military personnel deployed in our peacekeeping contingents are women, and we plan to significantly improve this number. The Mexican government will also continue to call for greater efforts to protect women against violence and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable.


Peace will not be sustainable if we don’t incorporate gender perspectives in all of our efforts. Thank you very much and I look forward to engaging in a discussion with the rest of the distinguished speakers.