Mexican president sparks criticism after comments on women staying at home

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday suggested the tradition of women staying at home to take care of older family members was key to battling the coronavirus pandemic, sparking criticism his comments were sexist.

This is not the first time the 66-year-old leader has been accused of making tone-deaf comments and lacking empathy towards women.

“People want to change women’s role and that is one of the just causes of feminism, but the tradition in Mexico is that daughters are the ones who care the most for parents. We men are more detached,” Lopez Obrador said.

Whereas seniors in nursing homes in Europe had suffered with the pandemic, Mexico’s elders were helped by the custom of being cared for at home, he said, adding that the “Mexican family is the most important social security institution” in the country.

“Translating the president’s nineteenth century thinking when he says: men are more detached, he means irresponsible; daughters take care of their parents, he’s referring to unpaid work; tradition refers to machismo; feminism wants to change roles, true transformation,” Martha Tagle, a lawmaker with the Citizen’s Movement party, said on Twitter.

The hashtag AmloMachista, or sexist AMLO in reference to the president’s initials, was trending.

“AmloMachista insists on sending women to be ‘caregivers’, but we have news for him, we are citizens and we are feminists who will no longer tolerate his presidential misogyny,” Claudia Castello, who describes herself as a sociologist and feminist, wrote on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador’s prickly reaction earlier this year to criticism of his administration over brutal murders of women in Mexico riled feminists and undermined support for him among female voters, helping to fuel protests.

Lopez Obrador has been chastised for not taking the virus seriously enough and pushing for a reopening of the economy too soon.

Mexico has the seventh highest coronavirus death toll in the world with 25,060 deaths and 202,951 cases.

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