ESTEFANIA VELA /// The Politics of Gender in Mexico


This conversation with Estefanía Vela introduces the components of the politics of gender in Mexico. We first talk about recent legislations and programs proper to Mexico City itself that constitute significant advancement in the struggle for recognition of equal rights for all lead by women, gays, and transsexual men and women (see the posters spotted in Mexico City’s subway below). We then look at the way the gender division is inscribed in the Mexican constitution, in particular in matters of labor. Even when it comes to rights given to pregnant women, the language that attributes them is symptomatic of the fact that what needs to be protected is more reproduction itself than the female bodies and its rights. We finish this conversation by Estefanía’s examination of the legal notion of “person” in her article “Person for a Day” about Diane Torr’s workshop “Men for a Day.”

Estefanía Vela studied law in college (at ITAM, in Mexico City) and did an LL.M. at Yale Law School afterwards. She is an Associate Profesor at the Law Division of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), a public research center and university in Mexico City. She is also head of its Sexual and Reproductive Rights Area. She teaches and researches issues regarding the relationship between gender, sexuality, and the law, with a specific focus on family law (for instance: the transformations suffered by marriage with the advent of human rights) and the right to non-discrimination (with regards to gender identity and sexual orientation, for example). Photograph by Fernanda Casillas (@fercasillas)




– Estefanía Vela Barba, “No es el sexo, es el trabajo,” for Letras Libres (April 2014)
– Estefanía Vela Barba, “Persona por un dia,” for Letras Libres (August 2013)
– Rosabeth Moss Kanter,  “The Interplay of Structure and Behavior: How System Dynamics Can Explain and Change Outcomes by Gender or Social Category,” in Harvard Business School (March, 2013)
– Vicki Schultz, “Telling Stories About Women and Work: Judicial Interpretations of Sex Segregation on the Job in Title VII Cases Raising the Lack of Interest Argument,” in Harvard Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 8, p. 1749, 1990


– Sergio González Rodríguez, The Femicide Machine, Semiotext(e), 2012. (also see the 31st Funambulist Paper written by Greg Barton about this book)


– “Economization of Life: Biopolitical Feminism” with Michelle Murphy (June 2014)
– “Gendered Violence in Bathrooms, Streets, and Prisons” with Sophia Seawell (May 2014)