25 Mexicans: Patrica Mercado, alternative

No newcomer to public life in Mexico, Patricia Mercado made headlines and won votes during last year's presidential race with her pro-feminist stance and her liberal views on issues ranging from gay rights to abortion.

Image:Alfredo Pelicastre

Patricia Mercado, politician

Born and raised in Sonora, Mercado knew from an early age she wanted to grow up "to make a difference in Mexico." Her commitment to social work began in 1975, when, at 18, she moved to Mexico City to study economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and get involved in the feminist movement. In the early 80s, she became a union leader while quietly nurturing her political aspirations.

"Men are more willing now to see women through a different lens-and there is no going back," she says. While there are prominent women in just about every facet of Mexico's public life today (not the case 30 years ago), Mercado notes that there's still a long way to go to achieve gender equality.

This happily married mother of two draws inspiration from Liberation Theology, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, and the efforts of feminists around the world. She was the 2006 presidential candidate from the  Social Democratic and Peasant Alternative Party (PSD)(known as Alternativa in Spanish), which she helped found.

Mercado believes that change happens when people persevere in working together. Her political goals include running for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in the 2009 federal elections and organizing an alliance of leftist movements and parties to contest the 2012 presidential election, regardless of whether or not she becomes a candidate.

Asked to describe herself, Mercado needs just four words: a persevering, optimistic, responsible feminist. Had she not been an activist and politician, she thinks she would have made good executive at the helm of, not surprisingly, her own business.


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