Started in 2015 by a collective of Argentine female artists, academics, and journalists, Ni Una Menos ‘arose from the need to say “enough of femicides”‘ and ‘it grew when society took it over and turned it into a collective campaign.’
The first protest organized by the group took place on March 26th 2015 in response to the murder of Daiana García. Two years on, femicide remains a terrible problem in Argentina. Figures collected by activists show that between January 1 and November 17th 2017, 254 femicides were registered, which means that a femicide was registered every 30 hours.
These undeniably reveal that the work of Ni Una Menos remains as urgent and necessary today as it did in 2015. The Bubble spoke to activist Cecilia Palmeiro about the ongoing work of Ni Una Menos. She put these statistics on femicide in context, describing how, ‘[w]hen analyzing the causes of femicide, we […] realized the link between symbolic, economic, social, and physical violence.’
Palmeiro describes economic and social forces against women, as ‘less visible, but not less dramatic’ than physical forces. And at the ‘root of the problem’, she tells me, is ‘inequality’. She reels off examples of economic and social forces of inequality: ‘deregulation of economic flows and labor, […], the dismantling of programs of protection, prevention, and sexual education, the limitation of access to reproductive rights and healthcare’ – each of these factors ‘affect women in a very sensitive way.’
THE ANTIDOTE AGAINST MISOGYNY IS SORORITY.
One clear example of economic inequality in Argentina is the fact that women in Argentina continue to earn 27 percent less than men do. Palmeiro tells me that the force of ‘Neo-extractivism‘ in the global and national economy, ‘produces a specific form of violence against women as our bodies and territories are plundered in order to transfer resources from the state by destroying the system of welfare and popular sectors – by lowering the wages and obtaining rent out of our debts to the ruling elites worldwide.’
The feminism of Ni Una Menos is a ‘feminism of the 99 percent’, consciously in opposition to the ‘ruling elites worldwide’. ‘Violence against women’, Palmeiros points out, ‘is rooted within the broader map of social inequalities and discrimination and reinforces those practices of exclusion.’ The significance of race, gender, age, and the many different parts of a person’s identity in the violence enacted upon them is countered by Ni Una Menos with an inclusive and intersectional feminism. ‘Because of our alliance with black feminism, indigenous feminism, queer feminism, [and] popular feminism,’ says Palmeiros, ‘we are building together a new feminism of the 99 percent.’
OUR WORK HAS CHANGED IN THESE TWO YEARS IN A MOVEMENT THAT WE CAN DESCRIBE AS RADICALIZATION BY INCLUSION OF INTERSECTIONAL PERSPECTIVES LINKED TO STRUGGLES AGAINST RACISM, COLONIALISM, AND IMPERIALISM.
This increasingly intersectional, inclusive feminism is one of the biggest changes that Ni Una Menos has undergone during its first two years of existence. Palmeiros describes this process as ‘radicalization by inclusion.’ Rather than any competition between women, which is, says Palmeiro, what the ‘patriarchy wants,’ Ni Una Menos encourages the recognition of each women as ‘a compañera (female comrade).’ This aim of meeting of each force of inequality with an equal and opposite pressure, of turning the situation around, is phrased most strikingly in Palmeiros’ assertion that ‘the antidote against misogyny is sorority.’
One other change for Ni Una Menos over the past two years is its ongoing growth. ”Ni una menos’ exists as autonomous organizations all over Argentina,’ Palmeiros says, ‘but also in Chile, Bolivia, and Peru.’ Furthermore, the phrase Ni Una Menos ‘acts as a sort of magic word and a password of sorority.’ This sense of sorority is also felt within the collective as a ‘part of a broader network of feminist organizations around the world.’ The first International Women Strike, which took place on March 8th 2017, and in which Ni Una Menos played a part, is testament to this network of sorority as women from 55 countries around the world participated.
But the work of Ni Una Menos has been met with varying responses from figures in government. In Palmeiros’ words: ‘[w]e have received different responses from different political organizations. While left-wing and center-left politicians have demonstrated interest and support, the current government of Cambiemos has repressed and criminalized our protests violently. After the rally on March 8 (International Women Strike) 25 people were illegally detained. Eight women were detained the night before while promoting the strike. The government officials, while publicly expressing their alleged “support,” orchestrated a very aggressive repression to our struggle.’
However, she continues, ‘the response [from the general public] has always been enthusiastic.’ ‘Governments can repress our movement and there is a conservative reaction against our demand for freedom and egality,’ she says, but the ‘tide’ of this movement ‘cannot be stopped.’
We have radicalized our claims and spread the virus of rebellion and disobedience over the world.
Reflecting on the current position of Ni Una Menos, and its work in the future, Cecilia Palmeiros remains positive and determined. ‘But,’ she says ‘we face very important challenges: puritanism, punitivism and pinkwashing‘. ‘And,’ she adds, ‘we reject the merely politically correct response: we are organized to change it all.’ Merely appearing to support feminist causes is not enough for Ni Una Menos, nor are tokenistic changes enacted by ‘ruling elites worldwide.’ They are campaigning for complete ‘social transformation.’
When I ask Paimeros what women and their allies should do to support the work of Ni Una Menos, she tells me that ‘the first step to social transformation is the micropolitics of every day life.’ Ni Una Menos hopes ‘to transform who we are and how we live. For that, we need to abandon our machista practices, we need to deconstruct misogyny within ourselves and understand it as an unconscious mechanism through which we perpetrate machista violence. And as a suggestion for everyone that supports our struggle: organize, resist, mutate.’
It’s 2017, two years after Ni Una Menos began their work. Conversation with Cecilia Palmeiros, from Ni Una Menos, shows the organisation’s work as ongoing, urgent, and increasing in momentum.