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Mexico’s first female president: Who is Claudia Sheinbaum?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

After 200 years of male presidency, Mexico elected the first female president in its history. Claudia Sheinbaum won the presidential race by 60% over her main rival Xóchitl Gálvez, on the 2nd of June. Sheinbaum will replace her ally, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in October.

The 61-year-old candidate has been the mayor of Mexico City from 2018 to 2023. Sheinbaum also won a Nobel Prize for Peace for their work on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2007, alongside other scientists and policymakers. 

She is the first Jewish person to be elected in the country. This was the largest election in Mexico’s history, which was also marked by a big achievement in a mostly Catholic and patriarchal culture. 

Political career and bias

Sheinbaum was politically active as a student and professor in the 1980s and ’90s. And although she helped found the student-led Revolutionary Democratic Party in 1998, she only effectively got into  politics in 2000, when she was appointed Mexico City ‘s environment secretary by Andrés Obrador, then head of the city’ s government. 

After winning a Nobel Prize, in 2007, Claudia Sheinbaum was elected mayor of the Tlalpan district of Mexico City. Then, she highlighted the importance of water rights and fair usage. She received some criticism as well, for accidents occurring in the infrastructure she oversaw during her term of office.

That is when, in July 2018, the politician was elected mayor of Mexico City receiving 50% of the vote. Sheinbaum was also the first woman and the first Jewish person to fit that position. During her previous mandates, she mainly took on public transit and environmental issues.

The first woman to be president of Mexico ran the presidential race, in 2024, as a candidate for the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional), also known as MORENA

This party describes itself as a democratic left-wing and also as an opponent to the neoliberal economic policies that Mexico has adopted since the 1980s. During electoral period Sheinbaum received the support of the six-time-elected former President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

Also called ‘AMLO’, Obrador ends his mandate with more than 60% popular approval of his government. 

Personal life 

Claudia Sheinbaum was born in Mexico City, in 1962, after her maternal grandparents emigrated from Europe to escape the Holocaust. She is the second daughter of a biologist and professor emeritus at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a chemical engineer.

During all her career, the politician was recognized as well for her scientific research and policy advocacy on matters of energy efficiency, sustainability, and the environment. That is why people are used to call her “La Doctora”.

Sheinbaum enrolled at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to study physics. For her master’s and doctorate degrees she studied energy engineering and conducted her doctoral research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California (USA). 

While studying at UNAM, she became immersed in politics issues that then led her to the political career. 

Historical moment

The victory of the leftist Morena party favorite candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, can be considered a historical moment for Mexico’s history. Besides being the first ever woman to lead the country, she is the first Jewish person to be elected to the post.

For the first time in the 200 years of the [Mexican] Republic, I will become the first woman president of Mexico“, she said during her victory speech. 

The day after the victory, she also pointed out the challenges she will face during her period of office. 

Our duty is and will always be to look after every single Mexican without distinction,” Sheinbaum said in a speech early Monday morning. “Even though many Mexicans do not fully agree with our project, we will have to walk in peace and harmony to continue building a fair and more prosperous Mexico”.


The article above was edited by Malu Alcântara.

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Catarina Nestlehner

Casper Libero '24

Jounalism student at Casper Libero. Travel and art lover.