World Women’s Movement: “a way of building alternatives”

In the context of the Fourth International Action of the World Women’s Movement a debate meeting was held between the members of the South Cone. A place for analysis of the international context, with the goal of encouraging reflection on the challenges that popular feminism faces and the strategies that the Movement can adopt.

During the days of August 22, 23 and 24, the Southern Cone subregional meeting of the World Women’s Movement (Spanish:Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, MMM) with the participation of militants from Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, in the Eva Perón Amphitheater of the union ATE National –State workers Association-.

The Movement begun in 1995, in a context where neoliberalism was strongly hegemonic and imposed a single line of thought that proposed individualist ways to emerge from the crisis. Opposing this logic, social and women’s movements proposed alternatives of collective construction and a state of permanent mobilization. It was so that, after a demonstration made in Canada by more than a thousand women that traveled 200 kilometers in a struggle for their basic rights, emerged the need of sharing and replicating this experience in a women’s movement.

There, women organized in the United Central of Workers (Central única de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores – CUT) of Brazil became aware of this initiative and, together with other organizations, they participated in the first meeting in 1998, in Quebec, Canada. In this context they elaborated the platform of the Movement, which comprises 17 demands that include the end to poverty and of violence against women. Since the year 2000, international actions are being carried out, which commence every March, 8th —Day of the Working Women— and finish every October, 17th —International Day Against Poverty—. In this way, they make visible the explicit relation between Capitalism and Patriarchy.

This March 8th begun with the Fourth International Action, with the goal of strengthening the regional areas of the MMM in face of the need to unify the struggle for the women’s territories: their own bodies as well as the lands in which their life, work, community and struggle are carried out. The Southern Cone subregional encounter was a place for reflecting and making balances upon the current situation. Organized in panels, talks and workshops,  different experiences were shared, and the meeting ended with a demonstration outside the headquarters of the transnational company Monsanto, which is a clear example of the transnational violence imposed by the capitalist and patriarchal system on the bodies and the territories.

After welcoming the internationalist comrades that were present, the meeting started by pointing out the “current continental challenges”, which were a core topic in the formative debate. There, at the beginning, Nalu Farías, regional coordinator of the MMM from Brazil, recognized the complexity that feminism faces in the current juncture, since “this is a moment that demands a lot from us, because we are perhaps the movement with the harshest critics against the hegemonic domination system”.

Farías expressed that, although nowadays feminism has regained a relevant place in political debates —which she considers a positive situation of recomposition of feminism—, paradoxically, there is also the risk of settling upon a “legitimated and watered-down version of feminism catered to the market”, far from the organized and politicized feminism that the Movement proposes. Instead, the market regurgitates a feminism disembodied from its political roots, from the class struggle, it is an individualist feminism, tinted with postmodern and queer ideology. What the Movement strives for is feminism as a collective struggle, as organization from below, from the bases. The spokeswoman said that the goal is to “build a common political project from the articulation with other political forces but integrating the feminist perspective”.

Claudia Korol, popular educator from the group Scarves in Rebellion (Spanish: Pañuelos en Rebeldía) described the meeting as a positive event for unity and a key to the construction of the “identity of what we call popular feminism”. She emphasized the importance of having opened the event with a hommage to the 12 comrades, especially the 4 women, that were executed by the military in the city Trelew, during the de facto government of Lanusse in Argentina between 1971 and 1973. Because, she said, “our memory is a piece in this political construction”, because there is continuity in the different revolutionary struggles. She expressed that “walking and marching on with the subversive memories of our whole continent and search for the same unity that existed” is similar to the kind feminism “that we try to embody”, because “each body that is imprisoned is a defeat for us all, as well as each victory in freedom is a victory for all of us”.

To conclude, the militant said that, in these days, “we have to think about a unified anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and anti-colonialist horizon, disarming the violence that support these systems”.

After the opening act, six simultaneous workshops were held, where the common challenges of popular feminism across the continent continued to be shared, but this time from the experience of each of the women present in the meeting. The topics were:

  • “Sovereignty over our territories and common goods: the struggle against mega-mining, fracking, hydrocarbon exploitations, mega-dams and shortages in power supply”
  • “The right to decide over our bodies and sexualities”, with the presence of members of the National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Cost-Free abortion, among others.
  • “Forms of violence against women: trafficking, sexual exploitation, femicide”, a struggle that had a very visible side a few months ago when a massive demonstration took place all across Argentina with the slogan “Ni Una Menos” (Not One Woman Less), in response to the many crimes against women committed in the country, of which the most vulnerable are trans women.
  • “Militarization, criminalization and judicialization in the face of the advance of extractivism and the hegemonic model in the region”, which was nourished by the participation of the comrades of the People’s Congress of Colombia and by Relmu Ñamku, Mapuche activist persecuted by the justice for defending her lands against an oil company. She called for solidarity with each comrade, and to understand that there is a dual nature of struggles: there is a the common, shared criticism towards the model which unifies them all, but at the same time each struggle is singular and has its needs, therefore it is essential to accompany those who carry the struggle forward with their own bodies, in every possible way.
  • “Women and work. Gender division of work, reproductive work, formal work and precarious work. The economy of care”, where the topics included the role of working women and the tension this generates between social organizations, unions and daily life.

The following day, the conclusions elaborated at the workshops were collectively shared and the exposition of singular experiences, initiatives and struggles continued, around the core topic of confronting the mercantilization of life. There was participation of the members of the National Campaign Against Violence Towards Women and members of the Women’s House of the Dignity Popular Movement (Movimiento Popular La Dignidad), Network of Abortion Assistants (Socorristas en Red), Neighborhoods on their Feet (Barrios de Pie) and the Union of Workers of Argentina (CTA).

Sunday ended with a plenary in which all of the statements of solidarity with criminalized comrades were read, and then a general debate was held about the discussions that had taken place over the weekend.

At the closing of the event, Nalú Farías, spokeswoman of the MMM, said to the media that the event was “very positive because we accomplished the goals we had set beforehand, which were, on one hand, to define the actions for the subregion, and on the other, to call and coordinate Argentinian woman”. She also celebrated the demonstration against Monsanto because “it states our position as a Movement and our struggle. This symbolic action was chosen to express our rejection towards transnational companies and the model that they represent”, and said “our people do not need Monsanto, they need food sovereignty”.

This news story originally appeared on The Dawn  on August 26, 2015 and was written by Camila Parodi. The original source of the story is: Marcha.org 

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