- Download our Moving to Mexico Guide (PDF)
Renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture and warm-hearted people, Mexico is a country where diversity and inclusion are woven into the fabric of society. With a diverse population that includes numerous indigenous groups and immigrant communities, Mexico offers a colourful palette of traditions, languages and cultural practices.
On the other hand, expats may be surprised at how class-oriented the country is – in Mexico, social class largely shapes a person's economic opportunities and expected behaviours. This guide provides a glimpse into the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in Mexico that newcomers may encounter.
Accessibility in Mexico
Accessibility in Mexico can vary significantly, particularly between urban and rural areas. Major cities, such as Mexico City and Guadalajara, have worked on improving accessibility for individuals with disabilities, although much still needs to be done. This is especially true of rural areas, where progress has been slower, and many regions still face significant challenges regarding accessibility.
The Mexican government's National Council for Development and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (CONADIS) is crucial in promoting accessibility and advocating for inclusive policies and practices across public services.
Considerable strides have been made in public transport, particularly in Mexico City, which has been investing in making its Metro system more accessible. This includes tactile paving for visually impaired passengers and wheelchair-accessible entrances. However, potential residents with disabilities should research their specific destination, as standards of accessibility can vary across the country.
LGBTQ+ in Mexico
Mexico's journey towards LGBTQ+ rights and recognition has been notable. Since 2009, Mexico City has led the way by legalising same-sex marriage, and since then, the rest of the states have followed suit. As of 31 December 2022, all 32 Mexican states recognise same-sex marriage. Nationally, anti-discrimination laws protect individuals against prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
But it's not just about legislative changes. Various public figures, such as openly gay singer, songwriter and actor Christian Chávez, are contributing to greater LGBTQ+ visibility. Moreover, Mexico City and Guadalajara host significant Pride events annually, with Mexico City's Pride Parade being one of the largest in the world, indicating a vibrant and growing LGBTQ+ scene.
However, challenges remain. Despite legislative advancements, societal attitudes do not always align. Homophobia and transphobia persist in some sectors, especially in more conservative and rural areas. Transgender individuals, in particular, face significant barriers to healthcare, employment and legal recognition of their gender identity. Efforts are ongoing to change these attitudes and ensure that laws protecting LGBTQ+ rights are enforced nationwide.
Gender equality in Mexico
Mexico has worked towards gender equality for several years, with varying degrees of success. On the one hand, legislative measures have aimed at ensuring equal rights between genders. The Mexican government also offers 12 weeks of maternity leave, with 100 percent of wages covered for those insured by the Mexican Social Security Institute. Furthermore, in 2021, a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in Mexico essentially made the criminalisation of abortion unconstitutional, a significant step forward for women's reproductive rights.
On the other hand, gender disparities persist, especially regarding economic participation and opportunity. The gender wage gap, which sees women earning less than their male counterparts, is roughly 15.6 percent and continues to be a significant issue. Furthermore, despite the availability of maternity leave, the participation of women in the labour force is lower than that of men.
In March 2020, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare issued the Protocol to Address and Eradicate Work Violence. Under Mexican law, employers must implement a protocol for preventing gender-based discrimination and addressing violence, bullying or sexual harassment in the workplace. This protocol encourages an organisational culture of gender equality and aims to eliminate workplace violence. The document includes various measures to assist victims of workplace violence, identify supportive bodies and foster a work environment that helps reduce incidences of violence.
Still, traditional gender roles and attitudes remain, particularly in rural areas, which can lead to gender-based violence and discrimination. Efforts to combat these issues and promote gender balance are ongoing, but achieving gender equality in Mexico remains challenging.
Indigenous and racial representation in Mexico
Mexico's racial and ethnic diversity is one of its defining characteristics, with numerous indigenous groups and communities of varied descent contributing to its vibrant culture and rich heritage. This mosaic includes Mestizos (individuals of mixed indigenous and European ancestry), indigenous peoples, Afro-Mexicans and communities of European, Arab and Asian descent.
Indigenous cultures are integral to Mexican national identity. Indigenous languages, arts and customs are widely celebrated, particularly during national holidays such as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Guelaguetza, a festival showcasing Oaxacan indigenous cultures.
Despite the country's diversity, these groups often face significant barriers, including discrimination and unequal access to vital resources such as education and healthcare. Indigenous communities, in particular, often experience these disparities more acutely, and efforts to address these systemic issues are ongoing.
The National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI) and the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) are key government bodies working to promote equality, respect for diversity and protection against discrimination. The CDI focuses on indigenous peoples, striving to ensure their cultural, social and economic sustainability and safeguard their rights and territories. The path to total equity for indigenous peoples in Mexico remains a work in progress.
In the grand tapestry of Mexico's population, the diverse racial and ethnic threads are inextricably intertwined with the national identity. While challenges remain, the continual striving for respect, inclusion and representation of all groups is critical to Mexico's ongoing narrative.
Women in leadership in Mexico
While there has been an increase in women's participation in leadership roles in Mexico, there is still room for improvement. Mexico boasts a growing number of women in executive roles in business and politics. However, gender parity in leadership roles across all sectors is not yet a reality.
In terms of political empowerment, Mexico has made substantial strides. Women occupy around half of the seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
Organisations such as Mujeres en Alta Dirección are working to promote women's participation in leadership roles in the business sector in Mexico.
Mental health awareness in Mexico
Despite cultural stigmas surrounding mental health, there is a growing focus on this critical issue in Mexico. Increasingly, mental health is recognised as a crucial component of overall health and well-being. That said, mental health services are still under-resourced and often inaccessible to many, particularly those in rural or economically disadvantaged areas.
There is a lack of trained mental health professionals, especially in public health institutions. Efforts are ongoing to improve mental health services, expand access and increase the quality of care, with bodies like the National Institute of Psychiatry playing a pivotal role.
Unconscious bias education in Mexico
Unconscious bias is increasingly recognised as a barrier to diversity and inclusion in Mexico. Some organisations are implementing unconscious bias training as part of their efforts to promote a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
The Mexican government's National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) provides resources on understanding and combating unconscious bias.
Diversification of the workforce in Mexico
The diversification of the workforce in Mexico is essential in fostering economic growth and social equity. Although the workforce is diverse in terms of ethnicity, age and abilities, there are still disparities in pay, representation and opportunity across these different groups.
For example, women and indigenous people are often underrepresented in higher-paying jobs and leadership positions. Similarly, individuals with disabilities face significant barriers to employment. This has led to a focus on inclusive hiring practices and providing professional development opportunities for underrepresented groups.
Safety in Mexico
The safety situation in Mexico is complex, with conditions varying significantly by region. While many major cities and tourist destinations are generally safe, others, particularly certain areas along the US-Mexico border and states like Guerrero and Michoacán, can experience high levels of crime, often linked to drug trafficking and organised crime.
In response, the Mexican government has implemented several programmes aimed at improving safety. One of the more prominent is the National Public Security System (SNSP), which coordinates security efforts across all levels of government. Moreover, in an effort to combat the high rates of violent crime, the government launched the National Guard in 2019. This military-led domestic police force is tasked with safeguarding public security across the country.
However, achieving safety in Mexico involves addressing deep-seated issues, including corruption within law enforcement and judiciary systems, social inequality and the ongoing impact of the drug industry. Thus, while improvements are being made, ensuring safety for all in Mexico remains a challenging and complex task.
While Mexico's efforts to improve safety are commendable, potential residents and visitors should remain alert as the safety situation can change rapidly, particularly in certain regions. It's recommended to stay informed through reliable sources and to regularly check the latest travel advisories issued by one's home country.
Calendar initiatives in Mexico
- 8 March – International Women's Day
- 1 May – Labour Day / May Day
- 15 May – Teacher's Day
- 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
- 12 October – Día de la Raza (Day of the Race). Commemorating Columbus's arrival in the Americas, this day is an opportunity to recognise the cultural diversity of Mexico, particularly the contributions of indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities.
- 20 November – International Transgender Day of Remembrance
- 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
- 1 December – World AIDS Day
- 10 December – Human Rights Day
What do expats say about diversity in Mexico?
"Almost everyone in Puerto Vallarta is Mexican, American, or Canadian. The people in Penang, Malaysia are from all over the world, which makes for incredibly interesting parties. We hosted a Thanksgiving party with 19 people from six countries, it felt like a UN gathering, only for fun." Learn more about living in Mexico in our interview with American expat Kirsten.
►For more, see Culture Shock in Mexico
Are you an expat living in Mexico?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mexico. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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