All summer, hundreds of women have been gathering on Friday afternoons to plan the second annual Paro internacional de mujeres, or International Women’s Strike. In weekly assemblies, like the one pictured below, hundreds of Argentine feminist collectives came together to plan the strike on March 8 (often called 8M).
Meetings lasted hours and were open to anyone who identified as a woman or a gender minority. Organizers said the association was “completely horizontal,” meaning that there was no leader orchestrating the meetings, and everyone who wanted a chance to have their voice heard would.
International Day of the Working Woman: A History
From its inception in the early 20th century, the International Day of the Working Woman, as it has come to be known, has undergone several transitions. Flip through the slideshow to learn more about how National Woman’s Day became an International Women’s Strike.
Meet the Organizers
Possibly the most well-known group taking part in organizing the March 8 strike, Ni Una Menos was founded almost three years ago in 2015. It organized its first protest in March 2015, after the murder of teenager Daiana García. Ni Una Menos continued to protest horrific gender-based violence, initiating its first all women’s strike the following year after another young teenage girl was brutally murdered.
While Ni Una Menos has surged to popularity in the past few years, garnering huge crowds, Ni Una Menos activist and critically acclaimed author Marina Mariasch said that Ni Una Menos owes its popularity to Argentina’s rich history of feminist activism.
“The June 2015 protests for Ni Una Menos were massive, with crowds that exceeded expectations,” Mariasch said. “But this would not have happened without the generations before us. It wasn’t just magic, it was due to the previous struggles that have existed in this country for a long time.”
While Ni Una Menos began by protesting femicidios (gender-based murders), they have expanded their definition of gender-based violence.
“We all know that femicidio is a more extreme expression of a series of violence that is expressed daily in distinct ways,” Mariasch said. “Not all of these expressions have to do with physical, psychological, or even symbolic violence, but also economic, political, laboral, and institutional violence.”
Mariasch explained that calls for the end of these types of violence are not just directed at Argentina’s government, but also the culture. While Argentina’s law against gender violence accounts for all these different kinds of violence – something Mariasch lauds, many women don’t know their rights still, she said.
With the March 8 women’s strike coming up, Ni Una Menos is also focusing on the gender-based inequalities that manifest themselves economically. Mariasch explained that in Argentina, one fundamental distinction is the economic context.
“We have a neoliberal government that is going backwards on certain issues,” Mariasch said. “For example, they’re getting rid of pensions for housewives. This isn’t just an economic issue, it’s a social issue, because not recognizing housework as work tells these women their work isn’t valued. March 8 is the day of the working woman, but we consider the working woman to be every woman. Domestic workers and housewives are also workers, and not recognizing that is also patriarcal exploitation.”
The feminist collective Revuelta is based in Neuquén, Patagonia. Their work began in 2001 advocating for abortion rights and against violence against women. Due to the demographics of the Patagonia region, much of La Revuelta’s work has centered around Mapuche indigenous women.
Specifically, they advocate against oil extraction efforts that put Mapuche populations in danger, Graciela Beatriz Alonso said.
“We live in an oil zone, and oil extraction doesn’t just impact the Mapuche communities, but all of us,” Alonso said. She mentioned river contamination as a major problem, indicating that the group’s pivot to environmental activism is important for everyone involved in Neuquén’s activist community. While this type of activism makes La Revuelta’s work distinct, they also advocate for abortion rights and against violence against women, in addition to being a platform for discussions on feminist theory.
Alonso says this year’s strike will be bigger than any other one in prior years, particularly in reaction to the Cambiemos party and its stances on abortion.
“The whole world will be trembling, because women are standing up for our rights,” Alonso said.
Las Piqueteras are active throughout Argentina, based in Buenos Aires, Neuquén, and Tucumán. While the name might insinuate an emphasis on feminism (with the use of las), the group also focuses heavily on workers’ and indigenous rights, and it identifies as a socialist political organization, aligned with the piquetero political party.
In January’s women’s march, las piqueteras were firm about their anti-Macri stance. Their beliefs are that President Macri is misogynist and xenophobic, citing his statements on catcalling and immigration. “Fuera Macri!” is often chanted at their events.
“We all have to strike throughout the country against Macri, against his economic adjustments, and in particular his gender politics, layoffs, political and laboral persecution, and tarifazo (a term anti-Macri activists use to describe his price increases to public services),” the group said in an official statement about their involvement with the strike. The group also listed structural feminization of poverty, the wage gap, misogyny, lesbian/transphobia, and other grievances as other reasons for the strike.
“On the International Day of Working Women, we must not miss the opportunity to bring a strike of women with a total cessation of activities, including stopping domestic work and reproductive work as well,” las piqueteras added.
Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal Seguro y Gratuito (The National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortions)
Even though the annual pro-abortion rights pañuelazo protest was only a few weeks prior to the women’s strike, the right to a free, legal, and safe abortion will still be a central theme this Thursday, abortion-rights activist Martha Rosenberg told The Bubble.
“In the preparatory assemblies, participants voted for abortion to be a central theme in the strike, because all of the different movements are coming together in this moment, and we’ve agreed that abortion is important,” Rosenberg said. “Even though this march isn’t just about abortion, abortion is a theme that intersects with many other instances of restriction, in the form of repression of women in this capitalist, patriarchal society.”
Rosenberg has been fighting for women’s reproductive rights for decades, and she said this moment is an incredibly important one. Even though President Macri personally is against abortion, he said he will allow its debate in parliament. Rosenberg said this huge win comes from years activism from the campaign.
Rosenberg emphasized the importance of abortion rights in the context of maternal mortality rates. In Argentina, nearly one-third of all maternal deaths come from clandestine abortion complications.
“In the past 13 years, we have worked really hard to de-stigmatize abortion,” Rosenberg said. “We’ve worked in neighborhoods, schools, universities, and medical spaces, educating people about their right to a legal abortion.”
In Argentina, abortion is currently legal in the case of rape or if the pregnancy endangers the health of the woman.
LatFem is a digital, feminist news portal founded by four women journalists who were laid off from their jobs at major media outlets. They launched the site on March 8 of last year, on the date of the first International Women’s Strike. The four co-directors oversee the publication of feminist news by several contributors, based all over Latin America, in countries such as Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay. The site continues to expand throughout the region.
LatFem has surged to popularity through its work with Ni Una Menos, and they’re also playing an active role in organizing this year’s strike. “We go to the 8M weekly assemblies, covering the events as journalists,” co-founder María Florencia Alcaraz explained. “But we’re also feminist activists.”
In addition to covering feminist-related events, LatFem publishes all kinds of articles on politics, economics, gender-based violence, and culture, all from a feminist perspective. They also run public talks, called “No se nace feminista,” or “You’re not born a feminist,” which up to 500 people attend and ask expert panels questions about feminism.
“It’s work for us, and we want LatFem to be our source of work, but it also has the aspect of activism,” Alcaraz said. “Because we’re all feminist activists, so it has a mix of both.”
LatFem is looking to expand throughout Latin America, and Alcaraz emphasized that the fight for feminism against machismo is very regional.
“The strike is very connected with the region, because for example femicidios are problems that have affected the whole region in recent years,” Alcaraz said. “Women are being killed just for being women.”
Like the other aforementioned groups, Alcaraz said the mission of LatFem has expanded beyond just gender-based violence to cover issues of economic inequality, rights for women who do housework, and the right to free, legal, and safe abortions.
Strikes all over Argentina
See where strikes are being held throughout the country.