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The Day Latin America Declared Itself Feminist

#NosotrasParamos. Cobertura colaborativa. Fotografía de Emergente. Usada con permiso.

#NosotrasParamos (#WereOnStrike). Collaborative coverage. Photo from Emergente. Used with permission.

This is an adaptation of an original article published by Facción Latina in Medium, reproduced here with consent.

On March 8, women throughout Latin America participated in the International Women's Strike, joining mass demonstrations in countries around the world. Footage from the rallies shows how well attended and energetic the crowds were:

What brought thousands of women into the streets earlier this month? To answer that question, women from five different countries — all activists in the Facción Latina (Latina Faction) Collective — recently sat down and explained why the strike was important to people in their areas. You can read their responses below.

Uruguay

Federica Turbán is a social worker, a specialist in gender and generational violence issues, and a feminist activist who belongs to Mujeres en el Horno (Women in the Oven) and Diez de Cada Diez (Ten Out of Ten). She says the demonstrations on March 8 were rooted in longstanding historical claims:

Este 8 de Marzo, las Mujeres Uruguayas, organizadas e independientes, trabajadoras remuneradas y no remuneradas, autónomas o autoconvocadas, adherimos y convocamos a una jornada de Paro, Lucha, Resistencia y Movilización, nucleadas y articuladas en una Plataforma que es Nacional, Latinoamericana y Mundial, con la consigna #SiParamosLasMujeresParamosElMundo.

Se realizaron múltiples y diversas actividades en todo el territorio nacional, desde las capitales de los Departamentos, hasta los pueblitos del interior rural. Las convocatorias fueron variadas y han venido surgiendo de la sociedad civil organizada, los movimientos sociales, sindicales, estudiantiles, organizaciones feministas, entre otras. A su vez el Gobierno, mediante algunas circulares Ministeriales, manifestó su apoyo y compromiso con el Paro de Mujeres.

Los motivos por los que paramos, son diversos, heterogéneos, individuales, colectivos, simbólicos, materiales, culturales, económicos y sociales. Obedecen a los históricos reclamos de las mujeres en términos de igualdad de oportunidades y derechos en todos los ámbitos de producción y reproducción de la vida pública y privada, pero fundamentalmente por el Derecho de las Mujeres a vivir una Vida Libre de cualquier tipo de Violencia, que atente contra la Autonomía de nuestros cuerpos, como territorios históricamente en disputa.

On March 8, Uruguayan women — organized and independent, paid and unpaid workers, unconnected or self-organized — assembled and called for a day of strikes, fighting, resistance, and mobilization. They were concentrated and cooperating on national, Latin American, and global platforms with the slogan #SiParamosLasMujeresParamosElMundo [#IfWomenStopTheWorldStops].

There were various activities throughout the country, from the department capitals to the rural interior villages. The assorted gatherings had gradually emerged out of organized civil society, social and student movements, trade unions, and feminist organizations, among others. In turn, the government, through some official newsletters, expressed its support and commitment to the Women's Strike.

The reasons for our strike are many and diverse. Our reasons are individual, collective, symbolic, material, cultural, economic, and social. They follow women’s historical claims relating to equal opportunities and rights in all areas of production and reproduction in public and private life, but fundamentally for women to have the right to live a life free from any kind of violence that threatens the autonomy of their bodies, as if they were historically disputed territories.

The stats:

  • According to the 2014 annual report issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's Gender Equality Observatory, Uruguay — together with El Salvador — led in the region in femicides per 100,000 inhabitants, which reached 0.73%
  • According to the UN in Uruguay, 7 out of 10 women say they've suffered gender violence at some time in their lives.
  • According to statistics from the Interior Ministry, women filed 24,454 domestic violence complaints in 2016, while there were 29 recorded femicides.
  • According to Uruguay's Feminism Coordinator, so far there have been 8 femicides in 2017.

Brazil

Driade Aguiar, editor of the journalist group Midia Ninja and member of Fora Do Eixo (Off the Grid), a collaborative and decentralized network of Brazilian artists and producers, said:

En el caso de Rio de Janeiro, el Paro Internacional de las Mujeres se vió como una oportunidad de conectar a las mujeres de nuestro país con América Latina. Para nosotras esta es una lucha incansable, para que Brasil se entienda como parte de la región, porque es momento de la lucha de las mujeres se unifique. Así mismo, la marcha contra Trump de las Women’s March también fue motivante. En este contexto, el Paro Internacional de Mujeres es una excusa para mostrar que las mujeres estamos unificadas en una sola pauta.

Aquí, en Brasil, se está pensando bien fuerte como trabajar el eje económico. Hay que entender que pensar en un paro en este país es sumamente simbólico por el peso y el tamaño de nuestra economía. Desde este lugar se están pensando acciones para concientizar a la mujer sobre su rol en la economía brasileña.

In the case of Rio de Janeiro, the International Women's Strike was seen as an opportunity to connect the women of our country with Latin America. For us, this is a relentless battle; for Brazil to be understood as part of the region, it's time for the women's struggle to unify us. The Women's March against Trump was also motivating. In this context, the International Women's Strike is a way to show that women are unified around a single agenda.

Here in Brazil, we are thinking very hard about how to work in the economic hub. You have to understand that thinking about a strike in this country is extremely symbolic because of the weight and size of our economy. It's from this place that we're considering actions to raise women's awareness about their role in the Brazilian economy.

The stats:

  • According to Brazil's Map of Violence, Brazil ranks 50th out of 83 countries, when it comes to violent deaths among women.
  • According to government figures (specifically the numbers on the types of violence), 51.7 percent of women's claims were for physical violence, 31.8 percent cited psychological violence, 6.01 percent moral violence, 5.05 percent sexual violence, and 0.23 percent involved human trafficking.
  • Three out of five young women have already suffered violence in their relationships.

Bolivia

Elena Apílnaez Piniella, a feminist activist from from Ni una Menos Bolivia (Not One Less Bolivia), explained:

#NiUnaMenosBolivia somos un movimiento ciudadano colectivo, no institucional, no político partidario impulsado por mujeres feministas indignadas y hartas de la creciente situación de violencia machista y feminicida contra las mujeres y niñas en Bolivia, cuya máxima y más dramática expresión es la ola de feminicidios que está viviendo el país. #NiUnaMenosBolivia queremos denunciar la persistente situación de explotación y subordinación de las mujeres en nuestro país.

#NiUnaMenosBolivia is a collective, non-institutional, nonpartisan, grassroots movement driven by feminist women who are outraged and fed up with the growing situation of misogynistic violence and femicide affecting women and girls in Bolivia, whose biggest and most dramatic focus is the wave of femicides the country is experiencing. #NiUnaMenosBolivia wants to denounce the constant exploitation and subordination of women in our country.

The stats:

#NosotrasParamos. Cobertura colaborativa. Fotografía de Emergente. Usada con permiso.

#NosotrasParamos (#WereOnStrike). Collaborative coverage. Photo from Emergente. Used with permission.

Peru

Parwa Orbitas, of the Ni Una Menos Peru (Not One Less Peru) grassroots group, summarized the grievances and ambitions of the women's strike:

Este 8M las mujeres peruanas usaron el color morado, el color feminista, paramos nuestras actividades de trabajo durante las 12 y 13 horas, dejamos el trabajo doméstico y de cuidado con el fin de que deje de ser invisibilizado. Marchamos por la igualdad, en contra del giro neoconservador que ha inventado una supuesta “ideología de género”, nos organizamos en muchas regiones del país, hicimos temblar la tierra.
Esperamos que el Estado comience a tomar la igualdad y la violencia machista como un prioridad.

This March 8, Peruvian women wore purple, the feminist color, we stopped our work activities from noon to one, and we dropped our domestic work and caregiving tasks in order to stop being invisible. We marched for equality, against the neoconservative shift that has invented a supposed “gender ideology,” we organized in many regions of the country, and we shook the very earth.

We hope the state will begin to make gender equality and violence against women a priority.

The stats:

Venezuela

Guillermina Soria is a member of the Information Network for Safe Abortion, the School of Popular Feminism, Revolutionary Identities, and Sexualities. She singled out the demonstrations as a way to protest patriarchal injustices in modern medicine.

En Venezuela vamos a centrar el paro en el tema de la violencia obstétrica, que viene afectando fuertemente a las mujeres, sobre todo en el marco de la guerra económica que está enfrentando el país, las dificultades para el acceso a los insumos y el permanente saboteo médico hacen que la situación de las mujeres más pobres sea dramática al momento de parir.

Nosotras paramos en contra de la violencia ejercida cotidiana y categóricamente en contra del cuerpo de las mujeres. Paramos en contra de la colonización de nuestros cuerpos y de la medicina ejercida desde la lógica capitalista y patriarcal. Paramos en contra de la violencia obstétrica, que aprovecha las situaciones de mayor vulnerabilidad física y emocional para atacarnos. Paramos para denunciar que la gran mayoría de las cesáreas realizadas en Latinoamérica se planifican en función de los intereses de los médicos y no como forma de cuidar nuestros cuerpos y nuestras vidas. Para denunciar que somos víctimas de maltratos y humillación cuando decidimos interrumpir embarazos no deseados. Paramos para denunciar que la dignidad y la salud de las mujeres no forman parte de los criterios a considerar por la mayoría de los sistemas de salud al momento de planificar las políticas de atención. Paramos porque el maltrato médico durante el parto y la interrupción del embarazo no es condenado, ni legal, ni moralmente. Paramos como un cuerpo colectivo que protege y defiende cada uno de nuestros cuerpos maltratados en las salas de espera y cuartos de atención hospitalaria. Paramos para que todo cambie.

In Venezuela, we are going to focus the strike on the issue of obstetric violence, which is strongly affecting women, mostly in the context of the economic war the country is facing. Difficulties accessing services and constant medical sabotage dramatically worsen the situation for the poorest women when giving birth.

We’re on strike against the violence that is exercised daily and categorically against women’s bodies. We’re on strike against the colonization of our bodies and medicine being exploited by capitalist and patriarchal logic. We’re on strike against obstetric violence, which takes advantage of and attacks us in our most physically and emotionally vulnerable situations. We’re on strike to denounce the fact that the great majority of the C-sections performed in Latin America are planned according to the doctors’ interests and not as a way to take care of our bodies and lives. And we denounce that we are subjected to abuse and humiliation when we decide to terminate unwanted pregnancies. We’re on strike to denounce the fact that women’s dignity and health are not part of the criteria considered by most health systems when planning care policies. We’re on strike because medical mistreatment during childbirth and the termination of pregnancies is not condemned — neither legally nor morally. We’re on strike as a collective body that protects and defends each of our bodies that are abused in waiting rooms and hospital rooms. We’re on strike so that everything changes.

The stats:

  • According to the Venezuelan Health Department's 2012 Mortality Yearbook (the most recent update), there were 415 maternal deaths that year. The main causes of maternal mortality, detailed in the official document, were hypertensive disorders during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), other obstetric conditions, complications during labor and delivery, and unsafe abortions.

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