Women mobilized in downtown Buenos Aires to advocate for women's rights as part of International Women's Day (Photo via Télam / Osvaldo Fantón)

Marching in defense of abortion rights, labor equality between men and women, sexual freedoms, and against harassment and gender violence, hundreds of thousands of women rallied outside Congress yesterday to cap off a day of action marking International Women’s Day which also included a women’s strike.

Groups of feminist activists, unions, political parties, social movements, and individuals assembled before Congress bearing banners, signs, shouting and singing their demands.

The green pañuelo associated with the Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortions, the deep purple linked to feminist movement and Ni Una Menos slogans featured prominently in the march. The march in Buenos Aires as well as those in other major cities across the country were mirrored by others around the world.

A declaration read out on a stage, the product of consultations and discussions among women’s groups all across the country, featured a series of issues that also included criticisms of Mauricio Macri’s government and its economic policies. The reading of the declaration was delayed as the women, as well as men and children, continued to file in toward Congress into the evening.

“We’re here because when the world’s women get organized the Earth trembles. We saw it with the struggle of Kurdish women against the nation-state and the anti-imperial struggle of Palestinian women, with whom today we demand the freedom for teenager Ahed Tamimi. We saw it with the 2017 international women’s strike carried out in 55 countries, the marches on June 3 and November 25 in Argentina, and the marches and action in many places of the planet.

“We’re here because we bring with us the experiences, debates and links that we built during the 32nd National Women’s Meeting. And because we see ourselves reflected in the struggles of indigenous, popular classes and Afro-descendants. We note the leading role that women have in struggles by communities for life and territories and in particular the Mapuche women who have faced off the offensive by business and the Argentine state,” read the statement.

The organizers established eight reasons for yesterday’s strike, noting that the Argentine feminist movement is part of an international collective that stretches back to at least the feminist activists of the 19th century.

They were summed up by the following:

Labor inequality:

“We’re striking to make visible how work is distributed from a feminist viewpoint. And because we have established alliances in our assemblies between the various conflicts. Those with jobs and those who are unemployed, those of us with salaries and those of us who receive subsidies, those who work in the informal sector and in care-giving, we’re all going on strike.”

Abortion:

“We’re striking because we demand legal, safe, and free abortions. This is a historic time, the green pañuelos for the National Campaign for the Right to Abortion bring us together as sisters in an appeal that is now global: Legal, Safe, Free Abortions.”

Sexual freedoms:

“We’re striking to defend our sexual and gender dissent. No more criminalization for defending ourselves: we demand Higui’s acquittal, who was attacked for being a lesbian and put in prison for defending herself, freed by the feminist movement and lesbian activism. Acquittal now! We also demand that the indictment against Mariana Gómez, prosecuted and arrested for kissing in the street, be dropped.

Violence against women:

“We’re striking to say no more violence. No more femicides and transvesticides: machismo, misogyny and hatred against women, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites and transgender people are killing us. We demand justice for Amancay Diana Sacayán, the political, social and human rights activists who was brutally murdered in 2015.

Holding the state responsible:

“We’re striking to say that the state is responsible. In our country, in 2018, a woman is murdered every 29 hours. We demand a judiciary that does not protect class-based power and the patriarchy!

Separation of church and state:

“We’re striking because we demand a secular state. We are an anti-clergy movement and we demand the end of subsidies to the Catholic Church and religious education. We denounce the intervention by the Catholic Church and of all the churches in our bodies and in our lives. We repudiate their offensive throughout Latin America against what they call ‘the ideology of gender’

The women’s movement as a political entity:

“We’re striking and building the women’s movement as a political entity. In favor of an international feminist movement that is revolutionizing the world. In favor of an inclusive, radical and intersectional feminism that invites us to resist racism and capitalist exploitation.”