The speech read during the final hour of yesterday’s historic march in Buenos Aires, was delivered from a stage in an overflowing Plaza de Mayo, the political heart of the city.
Throughout, those reading paused to lead the crowd in chanting “Ni una menos, vivas nos queremos” (Not one less[woman]! We want us alive). The mood was serious, though punctuated with moments of passionate optimism.
The speech, split into five sections, each beginning with the refrain “we strike,” interprets the mass killings of women in Argentina as the most extreme expression of a patriarchal logical, one that subjugates, objectifies and undervalues women across all spheres of life.
- Who are we?
“We are housewives, workers in the formal and informal economies, teachers, co-op workers, academics, the unemployed, journalists, activists, artists, mothers and daughters, domestic employees, the women you pass in the street, women who leave the house, women in the neighborhood, who went to a party, who had a get-together, women who walk alone or with others, women who decided to abort, women who didn’t, women who decide how and with who they’ll live their sexuality. We are women, trans, travestis, lesbians. We are many, and from the fear they try to instill in us, and the fury they force from us, we will make noise and mobilize with a common cry: Not one less! We want us alive”
- What is femicide?
“We strike in the face of femicides, the most extreme manifestation of a violent plot that threads together exploitation, cruelty and hatred for the most diverse expressions of freedom and female vitality; which considers our bodies things to use and discard, to break and plunder. The rape and femicide of Lucía Pérez is a sustained attempt against the autonomy and capacity for decision, action, agency and desire of women. Lucía was considered a thing to be pushed to breaking point, abandoned at an emergency waiting room to make it seem she had died of an overdose, in an attempt to cover up the truth. But it wasn’t drugs; it was men. They raped and killed her in Mar del Plata just hours before the repression during the march at the National Women’s Summit in Rosario…Like all femicides, Lucía’s points towards the disciplining of women and all those people who rebel against the roles that this society defends tooth and nail: you will be what is “normal” or you will not be. And you will not be able to say NO because the cost of saying NO will be, at its most extreme, death.”
- What do we do in the face of femicide?
WFighting against this violence requires a multifaceted response. It involves all of us. But we know that the powers and instances (national, provincial, municipal) of the State, will only be made to react in the face of social pressure, applied from the bottom up. That’s why we’re here today, all across this country and other countries, saying #NiUnaMenos (Not one less), #VivasNosQueremos (We want us alive).”
- How not to stop femicides.
“How do we create a better world if the measures aimed at fostering this transformation, like the Comprehensive Sexual Education program, are dismantled bit by bit, or if they’re simply not applied as in numerous provinces? How dare they compare graffiti* with the assassination and torture of a girl? How can they ask us to be patient if they take away our homemaker pension and don’t take seriously the work of caring for a family? Yes, work. We do 76 percent of unremunerated work. How dare they tell us “it’s not so bad” when they remove the capacity for economic independence from thousands of us, when they fire us from our jobs, when they decrease our salary, when time after time they threaten to take away our paritaria? How can they expect us to wait when we’re dying from backyard abortions and when they imprison us when we go to hospital with a miscarriage?
*After the National Women’s Summit in Rosario, which concluded with a 70,000-strong march through the city, some complained about how women spray-painted public spaces with slogans. This prompted a heated debate on social media, with some prominent feminists arguing that the indignation would be better directed at someone who murdered a woman.
5. Next stop: the world.
“Nobody wants to take responsibility for these questions. And even less think about answers that will include us not only as victims, corpses, things, but as protagonists with our own voice. We, however, do want to insist, demand, ask, respond, because we don’t want any more victims, of any kind. That’s why, #NosotrasParamos (We Strike). And this demand is becoming regional: Bolivia, Chile, Bolivia, Chile, México, Perú, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador. In Latin America, we will all march together, because Latin America will be feminist.”