Women in Civil Society- Edna Jaime, Mexico
“My ambition, from the bottom of my heart, is to transform Mexico. And that’s what I’m doing”
Edna Jaime is one of the most important names in accountability in Mexico. Her career has helped improve the Mexican justice system, prevent corruption, and, in general, improved the way civil society fights for justice.
In Mexico, she is an essential figure in the field of rule of law. She has written and reviewed multiple laws regarding accountability and worked on important transformations like the creation of the National Anticorruption System. In recognition of the above, she was elected as a member of the Nacional Anticorruption System selection system, which she took part in until October 2018.
She’s author and co-author of multiple books, the principle ones being El acertijo de la legitimidad: por una democracia eficaz en un entorno de legalidad y desarrollo (The conundrum of legitimacy: for an effective democracy in an environment of legality and development) and Futuro para todos: Acciones inmediatas para México (Future for all: Immediate actions for Mexico). Edna started her trajectory more than 30 years ago. In her own words, the “stars aligned” to allow her to get into the Center of Investigation for Development (CIDAC, for its Spanish acronyms), a pioneer Think Tank that she ended up directing. There, she found the space to transform Mexico in a time when, she says, Mexico needed to be transformed.
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary, said James Madison. That government, formed by men, also needs control. We should dedicate our lives to the search for that equilibrium because it’s our only way to protect freedoms and rights.”
Her three fundamental values: freedom, democracy, and access to human rights are aligned with those from México Evalúa (Mexico Evaluates), the institution she leads, whose main mission is to analyze and assess Mexican public policies. Since the institution`s founding 12 years ago, she and her team have focused their research on justice, public security, budgeting, transparency, productive state companies, sustainability, anti-corruption, and accountability with the aim that these results are reflected in greater control on the part of citizens over the institutions that hold power.
Edna has participated in five of the most important projects of Mexico Evalúa, such as Index of visible and invisible victims of serious crimes and Security and criminal justice in the states. Her idea is to promote conscious decision-making and to control power so it does not abuse citizens` rights, which is why accountability is key to all her projects.
Like most organizations, México Evalúa has had its ups and downs: victories and some setbacks. Despite this, she considers it a strong organization composed of people who want to build a more prosperous Mexico, not just in economic matters but also regarding Human Rights: freedom of the press, health, and quality education.
“We’re certain that influencing public policies isn’t easy,” she says “but if we undertake responsible, technically solvent work and good analysis, we’ll always have a room in public discussion”.
Challenges of Latin American women
[Women]” should allow ourselves to have aspirations. Of course one of those aspirations can be building a family, but we can do more. We should work to create exceptional aspirations and don’t let anything stop us from the achievement of those goals.”
As she stated in an interview in march 2020 in Emeequis, the situation of Mexican women is unacceptable and the Mexican State owes a big debt to them. In the country, she says, they haven’t been able to solve the huge inequality and discrimination issues; there is, for example, a huge gap between men and women on access to Human Rights that’s usually accompanied by brutal levels of violence.
One of the biggest problems she identifies is the huge number of femicides compared with few effective investigations and disjointed public policies. Despite this, deficiencies in politics don`t always meant a lack of organized action, where, she thinks, there’s a big potential for awareness and mobilization.
Change as inspiration
“I’m very excited because I think we’re getting rid of the idea that things cannot change, that things are given. It turns out they’re not: we have the reality of the situation in our hands and we can mold it.”
Regardless of the huge amount of ups and downs Mexican politics have gone through, and the severe problems of institutionalization that afflict it, Edna finds her motivation and inspiration in small steps taken by civil society. Big issues, from her perspective, can’t be relegated to politics because relevant changes only occur when communities organize themselves in a propositive way.
In her 30 years as an activist, she has been a witness to and a participant in major victories that have inspired her to move forward. In her own words: “there’s nothing as motivating as realizing transformations are possible and civil society can be part of those transformations. There cannot be something more addictive, something more motivating than knowing we are partners in changes for the good of all. ”
Edna Jaime’s trajectory teaches us the importance of building networks between public and private sectors as much as effective mechanisms that impact thousands of people’s lives. She’s an example of how fighting for justice is not only possible, but it also brings rewards for all of us.