The coronavirus pandemic has prevented women in Latin America from taking to the streets en masse this 8-M, but it has not silenced them. On the contrary, the claims have become stronger and social networks have served as a platform to demand respect for their rights, which in the last year have suffered a setback. Covid-19 has resulted in a sharp increase in sexist violence, work overload and in general, guarantees to have a decent life.
In Mexico, Chile and Argentina, with strong feminist movements, people have been called to take to the streets for weeks, while in countries like Colombia and Ecuador they called to join 8-M through social networks. From the squares or in front of a computer, the women united under the same claim: to ask for justice in the face of femicides and to demand, once again, equality. There are plenty of reasons to protest. The head of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, Rebeca Grynspan, pointed out this Monday that at the beginning of 2021 more than 118 million Latin American women were below the poverty line, a statistic weighed down by the coronavirus crisis. Grynspan recalled that this situation occurs after 2020 ended with 22% more female poverty in Latin America. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned, for its part, that Latin American women suffer higher levels of malnutrition than men.
Olga Amparo Sánchez, coordinator of the House of Women of Colombia, recognizes that although this 8-M the pandemic has reduced the presence in the streets, it has not been an obstacle. “In Latin America we have turned mainly to the networks, there is an exhibition of messages, with different aesthetics and feminist currents, but also in some countries, such as Mexico, they have even challenged the president with protests that began days ago, painting walls, subverting the order to ‘stay home,’ ”says Sánchez, adding that Latin American women share an agenda on feminist matters.
“In Mexico, the slogan is’ Mexico femicide; in Colombia, ‘National mourning for femicides’. The pandemic has shown how women in the region are at a disadvantage compared to men, which is why we are going to scream until they hear us, ”she says.
Mexicans take to the streets
The demands for justice for the victims of femicide and respect for women’s rights have once again been heard loudly in the Zócalo of Mexico City. Despite the pandemic, thousands of women have marched to the main square of the capital to demand an end to gender violence. The demonstrations for International Women’s Day in Mexico this time had a main recipient: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Although the image of a massive protest of March 2020 has been left behind, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government of Mexico City shielded dozens of monuments and buildings since last Friday to prevent women from filling the walls with graffiti demanding justice . It has also surrounded for the first time the National Palace, headquarters of the Executive and the presidential residence, generating a wave of indignation among feminist groups and relatives of victims of femicide.
Several groups of women gathered shortly after noon on the esplanade of the Monument to the Revolution. The fence that the capital government placed around the obelisk was also intervened with the names of victims of violence and their perpetrators. The violet color of the jacarandas that bloom in March in the capital has framed the route of the march of the women, who have also worn some garment or masks of this color.
The high wall that surrounded the National Palace was later violated. A group of women managed to knock down part of the fence and the police responded with tear gas. The zócalo square turned into a fire of purple and white smoke. The femicides, sexual harassment and the candidacy of Félix Salgado Macedonio, candidate of the party of the president of Mexico who seeks to be governor of the State of Guerrero despite having five accusations of rape against him, were the main complaints of the women this Day of the woman. Those who managed to get close to President López Obrador’s wall beat him over and over again. “It is not going to fall. We are going to throw it away ”, they sang in unison.
With information from Georgina Zerega and Micaela Varela.
Argentina nationalizes the protest
Tens of thousands of Argentines marched in Buenos Aires and the main cities of the country against femicides and gender inequality. The main concentration, accompanied by a national strike by women, took place in front of the National Congress, the same scene where they have obtained their greatest political triumphs, such as the approval of a legal abortion law at the end of last year. There were also marches in the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosada.
Argentina has been a pioneer in the claim against sexist violence, the banners behind the Ni una menos movement. “We continue to support the strike as a feminist tool, as a promoter of what we have been imagining on the street and in assemblies, at work, at home and in beds. In schools, hospitals and neighborhoods ”, they explained from Ni Una Menos through a statement. The protests put the claim at the top of the agenda, but have not yet been able to prevent the deaths of women. According to figures from the NGO La casa del Encuentro, since January there have been 50 femicides in Argentina and one transfemicide in Argentina, at the rate of one murder every 30 hours.
Chile marches shouting “we will win!”
In Chile, thousands of women challenged the bad numbers of the pandemic in Santiago and on Monday afternoon they gathered at the epicenter of the protests, in the Plaza Italia area. According to preliminary figures from the 8M Feminist Coordinator, which brings together various organizations, at least half a million have been concentrated, just in the capital. “Once again, the 8M becomes the date that begins the mobilization agenda of the year,” said the group through its social networks. “Once again we took to the streets to make them ours, to shout for all those who are not there, to continue fighting for a dignified life that we will make ours. Despite the crisis that suffocates our lives, it is on the street that we will continue to transform it. Overcome!”.
Since 2018, when the feminist marches of March 8, have set a record for massiveness at the regional level. Women were the spearhead of the revolts that broke out in October 2019, demanding various changes. Last year, in parallel to the first cases of covid-19 in Chile, the 8M Feminist Coordinator estimated two million women on the streets. On this occasion, the commemoration finds the country in an intense process of social mobilization and structural changes. On April 11 next, the election of the 155 members of the convention that will draft the new Constitution will be held in Chile. Thanks to the transversal feminist movement, it will be the first joint constituent body that has been known in the world.
Colombia is in mourning
Colombians have more than one reason to take to the streets to protest. Although the coronavirus pandemic has not allowed large mobilizations due to fear of contagion and the main call has been to unite in one voice on social networks, in several cities of the country, sit-ins and walks have been organized in a day called ‘National mourning for femicides’. At least 47 women were killed by men in the first month of this year, according to the Sisma Mujer Corporation, which analyzed official data from January 1 to February 2 and which was published this Monday. The Prosecutor’s Office has indicated that during the same period, every 20 hours there was a victim of sexist violence. That they have come to court does not mean, so far, justice or conviction for the aggressor. The entity also documented 5,760 victims of domestic violence, of which 4,414 correspond to women, that is, 76.63% of the total.
Every 11 minutes, a woman was a victim of domestic violence so far in 2021 ″, points out the study by the Prosecutor’s Office. This year does not seem to be improving the panorama that marked the previous one. In 2020, 630 femicides were registered. They continue to kill women and this 8-M in the streets or from social networks the claim is the same: guarantees to live free and with dignity. “We Colombians are demonstrating for various reasons, but mainly to demand our political and economic rights and spaces free of violence,” says Olga Amparo Sánchez, coordinator of the Bogotá-based human rights organization Casa de la Mujer. From noon in different parts of Bogotá, the capital, feminist movements demanded justice for the victims of femicide.
Neither flowers nor chocolates in Ecuador
Although far from the large common demonstrations in other countries in the region, Ecuador also took to the streets feminist proclamations for International Women’s Day. The femicide epidemic predates the covid-19 pandemic and it did not hold back the demonstrations on Sunday in Quito, with hundreds of people, and in Guayaquil on Monday. This year alone, 20 women have been murdered by their partners or relatives.
Ecuador registered one of those cases that scandalized society at the same time that they radiographed the cruelty of these murders. Lisbeth Baquerizo was beaten to death by her partner, who glued the wounds to her head together and got forensics to initially treat the case as a natural death. The person in charge is a fugitive, thanks to the fact that he was warned before his arrest, and Baquerizo’s cause stars in part of the proclamations of the demonstrations. Half of the processes prosecuted for femicide since the crime was typified in 2014 remain unsolved.
But this 8-M, Ecuador has also tried to get another message to penetrate society and institutions: that it is not a celebration, that it is not commemorated with roses and chocolates for them and that what is needed is the commitment of the women. authorities to apply policies on gender equality, against violence and sexual education.
Pink revolvers in Brazil
March 8 has been totally overshadowed in Brazil by the political bombshell of the annulment of Lula da Silva’s sentences added to a pandemic that has the hospital network on the edge. The handful of feminist acts held have been testimonials and broadcast on social networks in this country where every day 12 women are murdered and only 15% of elected positions are held by them.
The highlight of the day has been a large police operation throughout the territory to carry out hundreds of arrest warrants for suspects of sexist violence. Some 760 people have been arrested in this nationwide raid. Only so far this year there have been 31,000 complaints of gender violence. Some companies have used the occasion to expand their clientele, such as an arms company that has promoted a pink revolver.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.