Over the past few days there has been a lot of talk about a National Women’s Strike and you may have seen phrases like “Black Wednesday” (#MiércolesNegro), “We Strike” (#NosotrasParamos) and “We Want Us Alive” (#VivasNosQueremos). Here’s the lowdown on what’s going on:
What does the strike consist of?
Glad you asked, because there are several ways of protesting today. First, women are wearing black to symbolize the nation’s mourning over the recent spate of femicides, hence “Black Wednesday” (inspired by protests in Poland over an anti-abortion law). Second, there will the strike from 1 PM to 2 PM, in which women will stop what they’re doing at work, at home, at university, wherever they are — that’s “Nosotras Paramos.” Later, there will be a march from the Obelisk to Plaza de Mayo from 5 PM onwards — there, the famous rallying cries of Ni Una Menos, Vivas Nos Queremos (Not One Less, We Want Us Alive) will be heard.
What exactly are they protesting?
In a nutshell, today’s strike and protest seeks to call attention to the exorbitant number of femicides that occur in Argentina (one woman has been killed every 21 hours this past month) and gender inequality. There are several recent cases of violence against women that have triggered today’s protests, the main one being the femicide of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez, who was drugged, raped and tortured to death in Mar del Plata.
The list of violence against women goes on, with numerous examples from just the last couple of weeks. There was also the police repression at the 31st National Women’s Summit in Rosario last Sunday, three femicides in less than 72 hours in Córdoba province, a mother who killed her daughter for being lesbian, the random attack and stabbing of two teenaged girls by a man in La Boca and a woman found strangled to death and her body dumped in a box in La Matanza.
The march also calls for more gender equality, citing inequality in the workplace, education and opportunity for women across Argentina.
Who’s organizing this?
The main organizer, or at least the one with the highest visibility, is Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) organization that is behind the famous Ni Una Menos marches. However, at least 50 other women’s unions and organizations are also a part of the call to protest.
Is protesting for women’s rights common here?
Last year was the first Ni Una Menos march, a huge demonstration demonstration against femicides and gender violence, which marked a turning point regarding the visibility that the issue has in the country. “Ni Una Menos” has become a common phrase, although sometimes subjected to banalization. This year, the march was held again on June 3, and there have been protests over femicides across the country as well as a breastfeeding protest in July.
Today’s strike between 1 and 2 PM, however, is the first of its kind in Latin America.
Can I participate if I can’t make it to the Obelisk?
Of course: according to the Ni Una Menos Facebook page, you can march in your neighborhood dressed in black by yourself if you feel so inclined. There will be marches all over Argentina and in fact, all over Latin America and even Europe.
Can men participate?
There’s been some heated debate about this: the idea is that men can participate, but the organizers have asked that they “stay on the sidelines” in order for the focus to remain on the women. The reason behind the explicit request is that a group of men infiltrated the 31st National Women’s Summit in Rosario and deviated the focus of the Summit away from gender equality to the violence that ensued.
Some have taken this to mean that men are not welcome at the march: however, it’s simply a case of not stealing the limelight. You can manage that, guys, right?
What about the rain?
What about it? Despite the Argentine tendency to cancel things due to precipitation, the march is *not* off. So, no excuses!