1. Women face discrimination, sexual harassment and death on a daily basis.
In early December 2016, Ana Gabriela Guevara, a Mexican senator and former Olympic medalist, was hit by a car while riding her motorcycle near Mexico City. When she protested about the collision, the four men from the car, got out and brutally beat her. Guevara claimed that during the assault, the men ‘insulted her for being a woman and a motorcyclist.’
Several hours after the accident, a campaign promoting violence against women began to spread on social media under the hashtag #GolpearMujeresEsFelicidad or ‘beating women is happiness.’ An example:
#GolpearMujeresEsFelicidad Me siento afortunada de tener un novio que me golpee c: significa que me ama c:
— Camila (@MiloLH17) December 13, 2016
Or, “I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who hits me because it means that he loves me.”
Unfortunately, this event is only one of many reflecting the chauvinistic character of Mexican society, the inferiority of women and the violence they face every day.
In Mexico, there are still girls who aren’t allowed to go to school just because they are female. There are women who aren’t allowed to vote or who have to vote according to the preference of their husband. Many women cannot find work because they’re considered unattractive or because they may get pregnant one day. Women are sexually harassed regularly on public transport, on the street, and at work. And the worst of all of this is the fact that 6 women are killed in Mexico every day.
What you can do: There a number of campaigns aiming to end this violence against women in Mexico, like Dia Naranja, Dominemos la tecnologia, Nosotros por ellas. Follow their work and participate however you can.
2. If you’re indigenous, you’re probably much poorer than everyone else.
There are around 13.7 million indigenous people from 62 different ethnic groups living in Mexico and they are a true synonym for marginality.
Three out of 4 indigenous people live below the poverty line in Mexico. While the average monthly salary of the general population is almost 2,000 MXN, the salary of an indigenous worker is less than 900 MXN. The native inhabitants suffer from a lack of access to healthcare, adequate alimentation, electricity, drinking water and education, among other things. The mortality rate among infants is 60 percent higher and the illiteracy rate is four times higher than the general population.
What you can do: If you’re visiting Mexico and want to buy some traditional indigenous artisan’s work, don’t try to haggle. For you, a few dollars is a couple of beers, for them it’s food for the whole family.
3. The majority of Mexico’s population is overweight.
It’s not unusual to see a family drinking half of a gallon of Coke for breakfast in Mexico.
Although a 10 percent tax was introduced on sugary drinks and energy-dense snacks in 2014, and it did cause a little bit of a decrease in consumption at first, the negative impact of these products is still prominent.
In 2015, 212.2 kg per capita per year of ultra-processed food was sold in Mexico, making it the fourth place winner for most junk food sold per capita, right after the United States, Canada and Germany. And according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Mexico drinks more soda than any other country in the world.
A lack of recreation has made Mexico the second most obese country in the OECD. More than 70 percent of its population is overweight and more than 32 percent is obese — provoking a third of deaths among women, according to the Mexican Secretary of Health. A diabetes epidemic is also spreading in the country – one out of six men has it.
What you can do: It’s not easy to change someone else’s dietary habits, so set an example by changing your own. If you live in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world, eat as healthfully as you can and encourage your guests to do the same.
4. The average Mexican works hard for a minuscule paycheck.
Mexicans work an average of 2,228 hours per year. That’s almost 1,000 hours more than Germany — another notably hard working nation. Unfortunately, a Mexican salary is way lower than a German salary.
The minimum wage in Mexico is less than 4 U.S. dollars per day and the lowest wage in all of Latin America. Considering that groceries cost more than 130 US dollars per person per month, it’s obvious that 80 US dollars is impossible to survive on in Mexico.
5. The chances of getting kidnapped or robbed in Mexico are the highest in the world.
In its best times, Acapulco was one of the most prominent and popular beach resorts in Mexico, not only for Mexicans but for numerous US millionaires and Hollywood celebrities as well. Fifty years later, the war between drug cartels and law enforcement has spread to the streets of Acapulco. Today, it is the fourth most violent city in the world, with nearly 105 annual homicides per every 100,000 residents.
And Acapulco isn’t the only place affected by violence in Mexico. It’s considered the third least peaceful country in North America, and Verisk Maplecroft named it the third riskiest place in the world. Taking into consideration drug trafficking, kidnappings, extortionism and robbery, Mexico comes in right after Afghanistan and Guatemala. To put all this data into perspective: 4 Mexicans are kidnapped every hour.
6. Public schools lack the essentials like chairs, desks and a blackboard.
In addition to the basic necessities, recent statistical data shows that 48 percent of public schools in Mexico lack access to drainage, 31 percent lack access to drinking water, 12.8 percent do not have toilets and 11.2 percent do not have electricity. More than 6 out of 10 schools are without functioning computers and 8 out of 10 students are without internet access.
What you can do: There is one nonprofit organization working to improve educational equity and quality in Mexico. They’re introducing technology into the teaching-learning process. Check out their work or even donate to their cause.