On Friday I rushed through the streets of Cordoba to arrive at THE place, the place of THE protest. There are quite literally protests every other day in Argentina, but this one mattered to me the most. Anyway, after arriving 20 minutes late I waited another 40 minutes before it really began, I just can't get used to Cordoban punctuality!
The protest in question was Ni Una Menos, a powerful phrase in Spanish standing for "Not one woman less, not one more death " and the demand of thousands who marched on Friday the 3rd of June across Argentina. Ni Una Menos is two years old and grew in response to the femicide of 14 year old Chiara Páez, murdered by her 16 year old boyfriend. Ni Una Menos.
It is estimated that approximately 66,000 women and girls are violently killed every year and for obvious reasons this data is incomplete. The word femicide was used by the feminist movement in the 70s to politicise the killing of women and girls, and countries in central and latin America have some of the highest rates, as do some European countries. Not all femicide is perpertrated by a current or past intimate partner, in fact the proportion is rather low in countries with high femicide rates.
Part of the problem with the data on femicide is that they are often covered up, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. In Argentina it has been suggested that
In Argentina there is almost one femicide a day and in the UK about 2 per week, but my Microsoft Word still underlines it as a spelling mistake. Come on Microsoft Ni Una Menos.
In 2015 more than 300,000 in Buenos Aires alone (protests happened across the country) marched for Ni Una Menos, but since then the number of femicides have risen. This year's protest took place after the killings of three 12-year-olds in Argentina and the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Brazil. Ni Una Menos. Many protesters relate to the demands, having suffered sexism and violence be it physical or psychological. Projects like everyday sexism in the UK are showing that most of us have experienced situations that left us feeling uneasy purely because of our gender. However, the protest isn't just for women, men also join to walk side by side and shout for the same causes.
In Argentina, the UK and all over the world women still face some similar problems, like the idea that we no longer need feminism because we have achieved gender equality or the implicit gendered discourses that permeate society like 'you can't play with that it's girly' or 'girls can't do maths'. That's obviously not to say we are all the same or suffer the same. Even within countries we do not all suffer the same. For that reason each regional Ni Una Menos might choose to focus on specific women's rights, like in Rosario last year when they chose to focus on abortion rights. Again, here is another issue which might feel closer to home.
In Argentina it is suggested that 3,000 women die every year due to illegal abortions. In the Latin American and Caribbean region at least 10% of all maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion and roughly a further 760,000 are treated for complications from unsafe abortion. Most of these women are likely to come from poorer backgrounds or rural areas who might have to seek help from whoever can offer it regardless of qualifications or hygiene. Ni Una Menos.
In Cordoba people from all walks of life marched for Ni Una Menos, there were men and women, older ladies and toddlers, there were sex workers and anti-prostitution groups, those against transphobia, migrants and indigenous women. Gender inequality affects us all so it is only logically we all fight against it. There is no country quite there yet, for my anti-feminist friends in the UK just go and listen to Laura Bates. What we can learn from Argentina is to embrace the word feminist and come together to shine a light on our own gender based issues.
I haven't written this to engage in the discourse of 'those poor women OVER there, we have it so much better'. I wrote this for my Argentine sisters (hola Laura y Gabi) and for Amy who always asks what my Spanish posts mean. I wrote this for you, to ask you to march, be it from your front door to the car door, your desk to the coffee machine or up the stairs in the supermarket, march and say Ni Una Menos today and every day.
This post was elaborated in the context of INCASI Network coordinated by Dr. Pedro López-Roldán, a European project that has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie GA No 691004. This article reflects only the author's view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.