The 9th of November is a scary day, it is the day that racism and sexism beat gender equality and human rights. Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States and I am literally in a state of shock, I spent much of the morning crying in disbelief. First BREXIT, now Trump, it is reminiscent of the politics before the second World War, and I wonder how we got to this stage, where hate quite literally Trumps love. I wonder where this leaves women, the glass ceiling has been left quite intact, but far worse than that is the discourse of denigration aimed at women which has been legitimised by a President, or should I say THE President.
It's quite shocking that this would happen after a period of what has felt like growing awareness towards gender inequality and its ugly consequences. On Monday employees in France began a campaign to highlight the unfairness of the gender pay gap. In the UK tomorrow is equal pay day, the day when women start working for free. Obviously, many of us are actually never paid for much of our domestic work. These events follow the annual women's strike in Iceland, which has been taking place every year since 1975 in an attempt to highlight the gender pay gap and hopefully one day close it.
Elsewhere we have seen protests aimed at gaining and maintaining control over our own bodies such as the Polish women's strike who were left with no option in face of losing control over their decisions concerning abortion, reminding us we are still far from equality. On Wednesday the 19th of October once again Argentinian women were forced to up the ante and this time instead of a protest there was a nationwide women's strike. The strike came about due to yet another femicide, Lucía Pérez was a 16 year old girl, Lucía Pérez was drugged and raped, Lucía Pérez was tortured. This might not have happened to Lucía if she had been a 16-year-old boy. It feels as though nothing has changed since I was in Argentina in June, privileged to be part of the #niunamenos protest.
According to the UN an estimated 35% of women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence at some time in their lives, and in some countries this estimate rises to 70%. In Argentina almost one woman is murdered everyday and in the UK on average two women a week are murdered by current or past partners. On the Friday following the strike in Argentina I met Martina Rodriguez, a representative from the women's section of the Argentina Solidarity Campaign (ASC) to talk about the vigil held by ASC here in London. Daniel Ozarow one of the founders of ASC and a Brit explained how the aim of ASC is to foster understanding and learning between what is fast becoming a very little Britain and Argentina. Martina explained to me passionately that the vigil was held in solidarity with Argentinian supporters but also to draw attention to gender inequality in all of its manifestations throughout the world.
In the wake of the 19th of October and what is becoming known as black Wednesday yet more women have been murdered. In Mendoza one man killed his ex, her auntie and grandmother. This in itself demands a better response from the government, but also from society in general. The number of women and girls murdered, or to use a better expression, the number of victims of femicide increases as tolerance towards violence increases. Martina uses the analogy of the pyramid to describe just how acceptable, almost invisible sexism and objectification (including women's treatment in the media) helps to create an environment tolerant to not only gender-based violence, pay inequality, and all other axes of inequality but also femicide. Perhaps the most blatant example of at least the partial acceptance of sexist discourse recently has been the US presidentail elections Trump (just his mere existence demonstrates the issue). The fact that Microsoft Word is STILL underlining femicide in red tells me we have a long way to go.
Women face rape and violence and even femicide everywhere, yes 'even here'. It might be happening in your daughter's home or your neighbour's or even yours. As Martina said and I agree it is absolutely unacceptable that we are still having to fight the same battles our grandparents did, now is the time to come together across the world, now is the time to end gender inequality. Now is too late for Lucía, but it might not be for your daughter or your neighbour. let's make some noise on equal pay day tomorrow and lets paint the 19th of October black every year everywhere until we are equal. #niunamenos