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  • Writer's pictureMargarita Garfias

Right to vote: What about caregivers?

I am Margarita Garfias, I am a unpaid caregiver; my approach to the laws has come from the everyday, demanding and defending my right to care, and that of my son and myself to receive care, as well as the right to access cannabis and its derivatives safely and legally in national territory. Politically, one of my objectives is to position care as a universal human right and to make visible the lack of rights of all people who provide unpaid care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and how care is transversal to the life of every person, not only to preserve life, but to dignify it and to access other rights.

Yes, we all care for and receive care, but not all of us perform or receive the same care and under the same conditions.

There are those of us who provide specialized care, both medical and non-medical in the home, and not precisely because the people who do it (mostly women) "are an inexhaustible source of love" but because of the lack of services and public policy of the state.

The Survey for the National Care System, Mexico 2023 (ENASIC) indicates that there are 4.9 million households with people with disabilities or dependency of all ages and in our country there are about 990,500 people aged 15 years or more who provide care to these people.

Many of us (caregivers) assume the care and assistance of disabled adults and older adults, who exceed us not only physically in weight and size, but also in the care they require (time, knowledge and skills) and it is extremely difficult (sometimes literally impossible) to leave our homes, initially due to the lack of support networks and public services to transfer part of the care required by our loved one, and not being able to leave them alone at home we have to take them with us everywhere we go, where we encounter barriers, such as lack of accessibility (living on high floors with no elevator or stair lift access), lack of supports (wheelchair, portable oxygen, or two or more people for mobilization and transfer of the person we care for), we also care for people with chronic diagnoses of all ages who are connected to a CPap or BiPap¹ or other medical equipment, who require medical procedures by schedule (oxygenation, suctioning, nebulization, tube feeding, etc.), others who live with sensory, emotional or behavioral crises and are exacerbated by leaving home, but as I said before, it's not that we don't want to leave our homes, the point is that we can't leave them home alone to go out and vote.

So although in Mexico since October 17, 1953 constitutional reforms were enacted so that Mexican women could enjoy full citizenship, such as exercising the right to vote, women who perform unpaid care work, which in Mexico in 2022 represented 24.3% of the Gross Domestic Product², continue to be an "instrument" of the state to provide the care that it cannot (or does not want to) provide, at the expense of our own rights and life projects, in this case our right to vote.

Although accessibility measures have been implemented, such as special voting booths for hospitalized people, family members or caregivers and hospital staff on duty³, people who, due to some physical limitation or disability, are unable to go to the polling place on Election Day (early voting⁴) or voting for citizens living abroad (electronic voting⁵), these measures do not include caregivers in Mexico who have medical and specialized care responsibilities at home and who, because of this situation, cannot go out to vote.

For those of us who care for and assist people with disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) protects us by recognizing discrimination "on the basis of disability" as any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including the denial of reasonable accommodation⁶.

Therefore, several of us (the unpaid caregivers) asked the National Electoral Institute (INE), accompanied by the specialized area of attention to people with disabilities of the Federal Institute of Public Defenders, to include both: people with disabilities and caregivers (who cannot leave our homes) access to electronic voting, as a measure of accessibility and reasonable accommodation, however, despite already having an enabled registration platform, our request was denied.

Since it is mostly women who assumes the care and because of this reason many of us cannot leave our homes, from my point of view, the omission of the authorities is also framed as gender-based political violence against women. 

This type of violence includes all those actions or omissions in the public or private sphere, which seek or have the purpose or result of limiting, nullifying or impairing the exercise of the political and electoral rights of one or more women, access to the exercise of a position, work or activity, the free development of the public function, decision making, freedom of organization or access and exercise of prerogatives when it comes to pre-candidacy, candidacy, functions or public positions of the same type⁷. 

But it also shows that it is necessary to incorporate the "care perspective" that strives to make care visible as an inseparable dimension of human life (and non-human life in households), which goes beyond gender, generations and living conditions.

In view of this situation, we decided to launch a petition addressed to the National Electoral Institute (INE) where we hope that Guadalupe Taddei Zavala, as president councilor, will guarantee those of us who for reasons of care (and not only disability) need to exercise our right to vote through electronic voting.

Guaranteeing electronic voting for caregivers would be a historic step forward, it would recognize that we are people, citizens with equal rights and not just an "instrument" of the state to provide care, and perhaps political parties will also realize that the right to vote should also include guarantees to care (Yes, many women can not aspire to public office or elected office due to lack of guarantees to exercise care or public services and guarantees to transfer this care).

Can you help us sign our petition? 

Sign here: CHANGE.ORG


1. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and BiPAP (Biphasic Positive Airway Pressure) are both forms of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) that can be used to treat sleep apnea and other breathing disorders.

5. ACUERDO del Consejo General del Instituto Nacional Electoral por el que se da cumplimiento a la sentencia dictada el veintinueve de junio de dos mil veintidós por la Sala Superior del Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación en el recurso de apelación identificado con el número de expediente SUP-RAP-141/2022, respecto del Acuerdo INE/CG346/2022 por el cual este Consejo General aprobó las modificaciones al Reglamento de Elecciones del Instituto Nacional Electoral, en materia de voto electrónico por Internet para las mexicanas y los mexicanos residentes en el extranjero; así como la aprobación y publicación de su Anexo 21.2 relativo a los Lineamientos del voto electrónico por Internet para las mexicanas y los mexicanos residentes en el extranjero

6.”Reasonable accommodation" shall mean necessary and appropriate modifications and adaptations that do not impose a disproportionate or undue burden, when required in a particular case (CDPC, Article 2).

7. This concept is established in Article 20 bis of the General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence and is replicated in the various Articles 3, subsection k), of the General Law on Electoral Institutions and Procedures, as well as 3, section XV, of the General Law on Electoral Offenses.

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