‘All for one’: The women supporting the political careers of other women in Mexico

The organization Aúna was born in 2020, when professionals from across various fields who did not feel represented by the existing women in politics decided to change that

Princesa Cabrera, Mónica Tapia, Mariana Linares and Dafne Pimentel, members of Aúna.Gladys Serrano

At first, they thought they would be the ones preparing themselves for political positions in Mexico: “a feminist party,” they mused. But then, they realized that wasn’t their purpose. They came to the conclusion that, although they care deeply about the way politics are done in their country, they didn’t personally want to step into those roles. So, they created an organization in which many women would support a single candidate: “All for one.” So was born Aúna, the citizen platform through which professional women from across many disciplines — filmmakers, producers, lawyers, political scientists, etc. — call on other women from all over the country in order to support, train, register and accompany them on their path to elected office.

The organization is now just over three years old, and is supporting one of the most important women in Mexico’s 2024 elections: a candidate to govern the Mexican capital, Clara Brugada, who is a member of the Morena party. The process for Brugada has been the same for any Aúna candidate, and she has complied with it as any other candidate would. To become affiliated with Aúna — as Brugada and the 74 other women have who have been approved by the organization to receive its accompaniment towards a political position in 2024 — means benefiting from ongoing education and training from all those who make up its team. Aúna has a presence in Mexico City, Nuevo León, Jalisco, Guerrero and Oaxaca, and its members have a close understanding of each area’s local issues.

“Why weren’t the most prepared women reaching the positions that have opened up for women in politics? That was the question we were asking ourselves, indignantly,” explains Mariana Linares, one of the Aúna spokespeople. The organization’s structure is horizontal, with each member assuming a different role in coordination, by area. Ultimately, everyone’s work has a direct overall impact on the nominee’s campaign. “We have invented a space where those who come, find their place,” says Linares.

Members of Aúna at a work meeting, in its offices in southern Mexico City, on January 11.Gladys Serrano

The process for an Aúna nominee

Any woman in Mexico who intends to participate in any popular election can come to Aúna, even to brainstorm ideas about a future political campaign; even those who have already participated in a campaign or who belong to a political party. That’s another one of the important characteristics of the organization: in Aúna, there are women from all parties, and their selection as a nominee depends on a series of tests whose results are evaluated by a committee.

Mónica Tapia, a political scientist who has worked for over two decades in civil society organizations, is in charge of the political strategy nominees must follow once they are part of the platform. For Tapia, Aúna is a tool that can be used by an increasing number of women in positions of power, and within political parties, to carry out the agendas and dialogues they see as urgent and necessary. “We aspire to maintain a multiple party system, and although we have differences, we know how to navigate them,” she says.

A “hinge” generation, a space where all can fit

Dafne Pimentel Corona was studying international relations at the Colegio de México, and started working with Aúna before she even finished her degree. Pimentel is 25 years old, and is the coordinator of the organization’s Mexico City chapter. She has been one of the direct links in the efforts to bring Brugada aboard. “We had many conversations among ourselves, and with the honorary council that orients us. She was the only one among the women looking to lead the city who signed up for the process. We spoke with her and her team to see if our missions shared the same vision and programmatic agenda.”

Dafne Pimentel, the organization’s Mexico City coordinator.Gladys Serrano

Pimentel is one of the youngest women in the organization, which maintains itself through small donations, above all, annual donations by women, whose resources allow it to function. “We have two fundamental pillars, one is the women who make up the network and who voluntarily donate money — an annual donation that allows us to do what we do — and, on the other hand, women who we accompany with our different processes, that is, the nominees,” she explains. All of them, nominees, partners and those who accompany, make decisions together and set the limits of their negotiations with political parties.

For Linares, the women who created the organization largely belong to a kind of “hinge generation” that looks to be a bridge between the world as we know it and another world that welcomes new collaborations with women in power, who make decisions in favor of their communities. “We hinge communities, generations, gender diversity, we hinge ideologies. How? I don’t know how to put it into words. There’s such a mystique that even I don’t know how it works. We have managed to base our platform on the fact that ‘doing’ is the best way to explain it. We have trans women who are part of the organization, women who support sexuality and reproductive rights, but we also have women from right-wing parties, which is a very complicated thing to understand. But there are feminisms, plural, and what we want to achieve is that one of them does not cancel out the other, but rather, complement them,” says Linares.

Princesa Cabrera is a 31-year-old Nahua Indigenous woman and the organization’s coordinator in the state of Guerrero. “One of our strengths is that the women we accompany are constantly working in communities, holding meetings and visiting other women in the country’s interior, and I think that is what we have been lacking, that political representatives have the sensitivity to go to these places, and not only during the campaign. That those who reach positions of power know these contexts,” she says.

Princesa Cabrera, the organization’s coordinator in the state of Guerrero.Gladys Serrano

In Guerrero, Cabrera explains, the group currently has nine nominees, distributed throughout four of the state’s eight regions. Aúna’s mission is to have representatives in all eight. Their nominees are activists, human rights defenders, Afro-Mexican representatives, among others.

One of the most valuable aspects of the organization — to which around 300 women of all kinds of backgrounds applied for the 2024 electoral process — is that Aúna’s accompaniment is integral, and continues even after the elections, whether candidates have won or lost. “You don’t run alone, because whether or not you are supported by a party, you are Aúna. If you run as Aúna, the rest of the country’s aúnas are there, attentive, present. They will accompany you if you lose — which happens to us a lot — and they will be the ones who will accompany you in the entire process of what it means to be a woman in politics in this country,” states the organization.

Aúna’s working team.Gladys Serrano

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