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Latin Americans Hit the Streets to Strike on International Women's Day

Categories: Latin America, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Gay Rights (LGBT), Human Rights, Protest, Women & Gender

Sign reads, “No to sexist violence.” Photo: Emergente. Published with permission and under CC 2.0.

Latin America is expecting a rush of street actions and activist initiatives on Wednesday, following promises by an array of civic groups to join a labor strike on International Women's Day. Organizers expect the work stoppages and protests to spread like two movements last October, #VivasNosQueremos (We Want Ourselves Alive) and #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less).

This March 8 we'll be back to the streets. Photo: The NotOneLess protest in June 2016.

The protests last year started in Argentina in response to a series of brutal femicides that took place weeks earlier in different parts of the country. These demonstrations quickly spread to other parts of the region [7]. Within days, there were protests in cities across Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico, with demonstrators chanting the same slogans, and campaigning on the same issues.

This year, numerous organizations throughout the region, both online and offline, have waged public-education initiatives and invited people to planned demonstrations, also asking women to join an international strike.

This Wednesday, people across Latin America will protest the fact that their region has some of the highest rates of femicide in the world [8]. In Uruguay [9], for example, protesters are denouncing state officials’ failure to institute better protections for women, and speaking out against the rise of religious groups and the invisibility of populations of African descent:

A pesar de determinadas políticas públicas que podrían considerarse progresistas, denunciamos […] las barreras existentes para el acceso a la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo [Exigimos también] Reconocimiento de derechos específicos para la población afrodescendiente: Asumir en la lucha feminista la lucha contra el [racismo]. [Se necesitan] políticas descentralizadas para la población afrodescendiente reconociendo a las mujeres rurales con sus carencias particulares por el medio donde se encuentran, donde opera fuertemente la hegemonía de poder clases, raza y sexo.

In spite of certain public policies that could be considered as progressive, we denounce […] the limitations that exist in the access to voluntary pregnancy interruption. [We demand also] specific rights to be considered for Afro-descendants: that the feminist struggle takes on the struggle against [racism]. Decentralized policies [are needed] for the Afro-descendant population, recognizing rural women with their particular needs due to their surroundings, where hegemonies of class, race and sex act strongly.

In Chile, activists on Facebook are sharing ways to join the strike [10]:

El grupo internacional sugiere una forma abierta de paro y nuestra labor es decidir cómo lo haremos en las distintas ciudades de Chile:
– Paro total – paro en el trabajo o en las tareas domésticas y en los roles sociales como cuidadoras durante la jornada completa
– Paro de tiempo parcial parando la producción/trabajo por 1 o 2 horas
– En caso de que no puedas parar tu trabajo: usar elementos de negro como ropa negra, cintas negras o cualquier elemento que decidas
– Boicotear las empresas que usan el sexismo en sus propagandas o en su enfoque hacia las trabajadoras

The international group suggests an open strike. Our work is to decide how we'll do it in the different Chilean cities: A total strike — at work or at home and also in social roles, like carers, during the whole day. A partial strike — with a one- or two-hour strike. In case you can't join the strike by not going to work: use black clothes, or a black ribbon, or any other element you decide. Boycott companies that use sexism in their advertisements or in their treatment to female workers.

In Argentina, the group Emergente will be publishing updates about the strike and street protests on Facebook [11] and Twitter [12]. On Tuesday, Emergente reported that some demonstrations kicked off early, beginning with protests staged by activists demanding more visibility and respect for the LGBTQ community.

#NationalStrikeNow “Worker's unity, and those who don't like it can go f* themselves”

In Paraguay, the civic-media organization TEDIC [16] is joining the strike. In a statement published online, the group argued that violence against women can occur on the Internet, where it's not a given that technology automatically empowers women, the organization said:

En América Latina, hombres y mujeres, aunque tienen acceso de igual a igual a computadoras y a Internet en el hogar, se diferencian en el uso [17] […] En la industria tecnológica, la situación de las mujeres se caracteriza por la desigualdad, la sub-representación, la discriminación y el acoso sexual. […] La Web es un espacio de violencia contra [las mujeres] En Paraguay, el caso más reciente y notorio de violencia machista a través de las redes sociales […] se dio a raíz de una grave denuncia hecha por una periodista. [18] Según ella, en la conversación un número no identificado de hombres hablan de violarla para “corregirle“ la orientación sexual. Estas son muestras de violencia que forman parte de una “cultura de la violación“. Esta cultura, que se vive cotidianamente en Internet, promueve y normaliza conceptos y actos que atentan contra la integridad de mujeres y minorías LGBTQI.

In Latin America, men and women may have equal access to computers and the Internet at home, but it is the use that makes the difference […] In the tech industry, women's situation is characterized by inequality, under-representation, discrimination, and sexual harassment […] The Web is a violent space for women. In Paraguay, the most recent and notorious case of sexist violence through social media […] took place following a serious complaint made by a woman journalist. According to her, an unidentified number of men spoke about raping her to “correct” her sexual orientation. These are ways that violence creates a “rape culture.” This culture, which permeates the Internet, promotes and normalizes concepts that undermine the integrity of women and LGBTQ minorities.