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Latinas and feminists

A delegation of women from the Juntas (led by Sâmia, São Paulo city councillor) and PSOL [Partido Socialismo e Liberdade, Socialism and Liberty Party] (led by Sônia Guajajara, candidate of the party for CO-president) was in Buenos Aires on the last 8th of August to accompany a historic date. After approval of the legalization of abortion in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, it would be the Senate’s turn.

An economic crisis spreads over the country, which has placed increasingly larger parcels of the population in a situation of vulnerability. At the same time, the Macri government gets weaker. It was able to approve recently a pension reform, nevertheless under strong popular mobilization. The inquiries reveal a growing rate of rejection of his government. The Argentine president sought to unite his conservative base in Parliament through the vote on abortion. However, he was surprised with the strength of the women’s movement.

On August 8, when our delegation arrived in the Argentine capital, we found millions of people, mostly young women, occupying the streets of the city. An anti-abortion movement for women was also organized as an incentive for religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church. The blue dressed ones could not match in number with the huge green tide that took over the country.

As expected, the Senate rejected the proposal. However, even if everyone already knew about this possibility, the mobilization was huge. We accompanied during the event the column of the comrades of the Argentinean MST [Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores, Socialist Movement of the Workers], which gathered hundreds of people. Beneath much rain and cold, the mass movement – with the women on the front line – resisted the caste locked up in the palaces for hours in the streets. And, in spite of the defeat in this vote, the strength of feminism multiplied, strengthened now by new generations of students who will not stop fighting for autonomy over their bodies; by new sections of female workers who will not give up claiming equal rights to men; by hands, grandmothers and many others who will pursue a better future for themselves and their families. Once women become aware of their rights and experience the possibility of conquering them, that becomes irreversible.

A new wave in the feminist movement

We are living a new feminist wave. A new moment in the historic struggle of women that has deep links with the world situation of recent years, inaugurated after the economic crisis of 2008. If we look at the main resistance movements against the austerity plans and for real democracy, which arose in response to the crisis scenario and the withdrawal of rights (such as the Arab Spring, the occupation of squares in Spain, Occupy Wall Street, among others), we will perceive the protagonism of women in these mobilizations.

Several women’s struggles for their own rights are also taking place, such as the worldwide phenomenon of the SlutWalk, which opened a circuit of feminist events around the world, marked by the participation of a generation of young people, with a new activist profile.

Since then, there have been significant moments in international feminism: the massive marches in Argentina, Chile and Peru for #NiUnaMenos [Not one woman less/missing]; the legalization of abortion in Uruguay; the resistance of Polish women against changes in the country’s abortion law; the debate on violence against women in India; the struggle of Kurdish women against the Islamic State and Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism; the enormous women’s march of 21 January 2017 against Trump’s election; the call for the first international women’s strike and the selection of the word “feminism” by American publishers as the symbol of the year 2017. The year of 2018 began with the women’s strike in Spain which was very strong and mobilized the whole country. In May, Ireland approved the legalization of abortion and feminist occupations spread to schools and universities in Chile. And the most striking thing up to now: the Feminist Green Tide in Argentina. And Brazil is not outside this dynamic.

Women’s Spring in Brazil

Since 2015, we have been living a Feminist Spring in our country. We highlight two special moments: the attacks against Eduardo Cunha, which took the streets of several capitals – a combination of the women’s struggle with the struggle against the corrupt caste; and the National March of the Black Women, which occupied the “Esplanada dos Ministérios” [Ministries Esplanade] in Brasília – claiming rights for the black women and denouncing the genocidal policy of the Brazilian State. In 2016, the women were again in substantial numbers in the streets, making protests of thousands against the rape culture, after a barbaric case that occurred in Rio de Janeiro. Also during that year, the women occupied the municipal elections – deepening a process that we sought to vocalize as early as 2014 with the courageous campaign of Luciana Genro to the presidency, one of the responsibles for taking the directives of the women’s movement into the electoral dispute. The year 2016 has resulted in the election of several feminists across Brazil, among them Sâmia in São Paulo.

In Brazil, women were also protagonists in the struggles against fiscal adjustment. March 8, 2017 was marked by the struggle against Social Security Reform. Finally, in recent years, women have been able to set the national public agenda, either through the networks or through the streets. For this reason, in March 2017, the PSOL and ANIS [Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender] registered an ADPF [claims of non-compliance with a fundamental precept] with the Supreme Court of Justice. The evaluation made was that we were at a national and international situation that favored a more daring step forward in the fight for the legalization of abortion in our country.

In 2018, impacted by the Latin American Green Tide, the struggle for the legalization of abortion has grown in Brazil. From the street demonstrations, inspired by the Argentinean struggle, and then the hearings convened by the STF [Supreme Court of Justice] to debate the ADPF of the PSOL, the debate around the drastic consequences of the criminalization of abortion in Brazil occupied various media and social networks. Professor Debora Diniz became the great symbol of this struggle in our country – and, as a consequence, she has been threatened for defending this policy.

The feminism of the 99%

Since its emergence, feminism has not been a homogeneous field. It has different conceptions, political strategies and theoretical approaches, ranging from anarchist to liberal. We believe that the current moment demands a feminist policy that is sensitive to international processes and to the construction of social and political alternatives to the crisis that is affecting the lives of 99% of the population, the majority of whom are women. The feminism of the 99% was popularized in the international women’s strike of 2017, when Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, Cinzia Arruzza and other intellectuals and activists launched a manifesto with this motto.

That manifesto points to the current need for a ‘settlement of scores’ with a kind of feminism known as “corporate”, which dominates the press and the advertising medium. A supposed feminism that falsifies the concept of empowerment, based on a logic of individualistic approach. In contrast to this profile, “Feminism of the 99%” was delineated by these intellectuals as a type of feminism that connects the struggle of women to the processes of anti-capitalist struggle.

In this sense, feminism is understood as a social and political force that works in harmony with other social movements in the struggle to end inequalities. And it combines economic and political concerns with the struggle for respect for the diversity of those who make up the 99 – working, black, transgender, immigrant, refugee and unemployed women and so on. In other words, our feminism must combat inequality between classes and combine the fight against sexism with the fight against racism, LGBTphobia, and xenophobia.

Challenges of the feminist struggle

We said that in Argentina the defeat in the Senate was not able to interrupt the feminist struggle in the country. There is much speculation that the dammed energy of the Argentine women’s movement may be channeled into the next electoral process. That was the case in Brazil in 2016 and it is expected to be even stronger in 2018. In Brazil and around the world, women are at the frontline of the struggle against the effects of the capitalist crisis and against all kinds of injustices. And they seek to self-organize in a variety of ways – by school, university, work place, by issues of common interest, to study, to work together and to resist for their rights. This being so, the feminist struggle of today is fertile ground for new mass processes. Well, it can leave a very important legacy, sown from a tradition of self-organization and collective action that permeates the feminist movement for decades. For this reason, as outrage advances, women’s groups are also multiplying in many schools, universities, etc.

Therefore, two challenges combine in the next period for the Juntas and the PSOL. The first of these is to elect a combative and enormous feminist bench. On our part, through the 2018 electoral process, we intend to strengthen our leadership and elect women such as Luciana Genro (Rs), Fernanda Melchionna (Rs), Camila Goulart (Rs), Carla Zanella (Rs), Fernanda Camargo (PR), Mônica Seixas (SP), Tamires Arantes (SP), Vanderlea Aguiar (RJ), Sara Azevedo (MG), Camila Barbosa (RN), Cida Dantas (RN), Fernanda Suely (MA), Viví Reyes (PA), Tati Picanço (PA). And, among those, it will be decisive for us to elect and strengthen Sâmia as the feminist leadership in the political-economic capital of the country.

Fortunately, it is among women that the proto-fascism of the Bolsonaro clan is most rejected. It is also against the old corrupt caste – of old men, heirs of the sugar cane mill lords of earlier times – that women are confronted with during this electoral process. It is possible that women’s votes represent in parts the hope for renewal. Through this electoral process, the women’s movement can sow a radical idea: this is the time for women to occupy the spaces of power.

The second challenge is to tirelessly pursue the possibility of mobilizing thousands of young people and women through feminist struggle. The rebellion against the various injustices that women are subjected to has been latent. In Rio, for example, small, spontaneous demonstrations against teacher and peer harassment recently appeared in many schools.

This situation could potentially spread over the streets and occupy them. To this end, we believe that in the coming period the fight for the decriminalization of abortion will be very important. As well as the struggle of women against harassment and violence, of black mothers against the severe and growing genocide of their children by the police, of women workers for decent working conditions and equal wages, of mothers for day care centers, of young students for autonomy over their bodies and for more rights inside and outside schools and universities. Inspired by the revolutionary feminists who came before us, the current generation of women can carry out what Angela Davis idealized, “[…] no longer accepting the things […] [one] cannot change, changing the things […] [one] cannot accept”!

A new page to support and build new alternatives in Latin America and the world, defending the power of the workers and people against the 1% of the rich and privileged, and a society without exploitation.

Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder