Amid the controversy surrounding different cases of femicide in the country, and following the massive response to the call for a national women’s strike by different feminist groups, the issue of violence against women in Mexico was placed in the center of attention, generating controversy nationwide.
On February 18th, the collective Brujas del Mar (Sea Witches) formalized the idea of the national strike “On the 9th, No Woman Moves”, and launched an invitation to the national strike on March 9, 2020, in a Twitter a post.
“If we stop, the world stops,”
NOT ONE WOMAN ON THE STREETS
NOT ONE WOMAN AT WORK
NOT ONE GIRL AT SCHOOLS
NOT ONE YOUNG WOMAN AT UNIVERSITY
NOT ONE WOMAN BUYING
# UnDíaSinNosos #ParoNacional
The post began to go viral and generated a discussion on social networks.
The idea of national strike is not new in the world and exists since 1975, the year in which the UN declared March 8th International Women’s Day. Since that date in different countries women have performed different actions around this date.
“On March 8th, 2018, Spain captured the world’s attention, especially in Europe, with a 24-hour strike of women and demonstrations of unseen proportions: around six million workers stopped, according to trade union organizations, and there were demonstrations in 120 cities, where the conveners spoke of up to one million attendees in Madrid and 600 thousand in Barcelona.” Similarly, in previous years, in the United States, Poland and Argentina, women held national strikes to highlight irregularities in relation to the gender issue.
Currently in Mexico different public and private organizations, universities, civil society and women from different parts of the nation responded to the call. Similarly politicians and parties joined in and the call was “also shared by the president of the party, parliamentary coordinators and governors of PAN, the PRI Twitter account in the State of Mexico, the PRD governor of Michoacan, and supported by the governor Jalisco of Movimiento Ciudadano, among other known personalities,” the newspaper Animal Politico reported.
The dimension of the call and the diversity of players who disseminated it in turn generated confusion about who is really calling for the national strike. Thus there were accusations by public officials that the “right”, opposed to the current government, was behind the call. “Given this wave of accusations about the origin of the call, Brujas del Mar themselves clarified that they were the authors of the purple background image and that they had nothing to do with the right.”
However, according to information from Animal Politico, after the clarifications of Brujas del Mar, the President of the Republic, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) stated during a press conference from La Paz, Baja California Sur, that he is in favor of the movement but recommended caution with the conservatives who also promote it.
“Just be very careful because now conservatives have already become feminists (…) the only thing is to be aware of the reason for this action, if it is a good thing that helps, and does not allow itself to be manipulated, be careful because conservatism, the right, it is very hypocritical and very given to manipulation.” He also stressed “of course the right is involved, conservatives. That is, as there are women who, out of conviction and freely, protest and will continue to do so, there are also opportunists. I’m seeing that even the political parties, out of respect, I’m not going to say which parties, but they overdo, they overdo it.” During the conference, in relation to the controversy he also referred to the coup d’etat against Salvador Allende in Chile.
The controversy still worsened after these responses from the president. Carmen Aristegui, addressed AMLO, asking him to “make no mistake” since the call itself for the national strike is not against his government. “Although many opportunists are undoubtedly wanting to use this strike for purposes of another nature … women have a very powerful reason for women and men in this country to demonstrate in this way.” For this reason she suggested to the president that it would be better if he joins the strike.
Taking into consideration that the fact that “being a woman anywhere in the world is incredibly complex; but, undoubtedly, in Mexico the challenge has intense peculiarities. Especially since gender violence, despite the enormous awareness that already exists about it, continues to increase and is revealed in virtually all social spaces.”
The existing hard data in this regard are sometimes considered too hard, and moreso, “violence against women is not only in murder but in prosecutors who do not respond in time or at all to allegations of disappearance, in police officers who they do not intervene in calls for help, in the community that does not get involved in domestic problems because ‘dirty linen washed at home’”.
It is true that the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), under the Ministry of the Interior take account of figures in this regard. However, in spite of all these efforts, according to the organization Data Critica, “although we know a lot about homicides [murders of women], the reality is that there is still a lot to know. And this must be remedied for a simple reason: a problem that we do not understand is a problem that we cannot solve.” In other words, it is difficult to design a successful strategy that fights violence against women without concrete information.
Obviously, the current government, which has a little more than one year in power, cannot be held solely responsible for the high levels of violence in the country. However, the cuts made by the government (for shelters for women who have been victims of violence and to address maternal, sexual and reproductive health issues at the national level, or the reduction of the budget of two agencies aimed at combating violence towards women: the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women and the National Women’s Institute), were their responsibility. These decisions are considered counterproductive by organizations that work on the gender issue and have struggled for years to create governmental bodies that address the problem or ensure that sufficient resources are allocated for the corresponding bodies.
From the perspective of Data Critica, the most important lesson derived from the data analyzed by the study “Keys to understanding and preventing the killing of women in Mexico”, “in addition to demanding policies to address, punish and prevent, for example, domestic violence or to eradicate gender discrimination that persists in different spaces, we also have to demand policies that address the broader security crisis. Among them, policies that guarantee effective arms control; that promote the demilitarization of public security; and that they strengthen civil institutions so that they are really capable of responding to violence in an intelligent, focused, transparent and fair way, at local level and together with the community.”
For years, the promotion of the discussion on gender equality and violence in Mexico has been sought in different fields. The call for a national strike is a massive cry to call attention to these complex and urgent problems and to demand a concrete agenda that can lay the foundations of public policies and clear actions to begin to solve them.
For more information in Spanish:
AMLO asegura que los conservadores están infiltrados en #UnDíaSinNosotras (El Economista, 21 de febrero de 2020)
La derecha está metida en protestas de mujeres, dice AMLO y les pide no dejarse manipular (Animal Político, 21 de febrero de 2020)
Cuál es el origen del paro nacional del 9 de marzo #UnDíaSinMujeres (animal Político, 22 de febrero de 2020)
Presidente AMLO, no se equivoque; paro feminista no es contra su gobierno: Aristegui | Video (Aristegui Noticias, 21 de febrero de 2020)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Oaxaca: Olimpia Law Used for First Time (February 17, 2020)
Oaxaca: Femicide Violence Worsens as Year Begins (February 5, 2020)
Oaxaca: 126 Femicides One Year after Declaration of Gender Violence Alert (September 2, 2019)
National: Over 424,000 on Mexican #Me Too (May 7, 2019)