Feminist communitarian organization in times of femicides. Insights from the second international encounter of women who fight

From the 26th to the 29th of December 2019, the “Segundo encuentro internacional de mujeres que luchan” (Second International Encounter of Women who Fight) took place in the territory/community of “Los Zapatistas” in Chiapas Mexico. This community that emerged in the very geopolitical south of Mexico has been organizing since 1994 against the wrong decisions of the Mexican government. In doing so, this community has pointed out the need to frame these wrong decisions in the complexity of a world-system built under the premises of colonialism, capitalism, eurocentrism, modernity, and, patriarchalism. In this same line, they urge us to understand that patterns of power such as racism, classism, sex-gender inequalities, an unequal division of labour, and conquest of nature are the result and expressions of this complex world-system.  

In this context, two years ago the Zapatistas women decided to launch, for the first time, an international call to build up a network among different women coming from different geopolitical places. The purpose of this was to get organized and strategically fight together against the inequalities we, as women, experience in our everyday lives. This year, the encounter started with different workshops, but from the very first day, one of them particularly caught participant’s attention. The topic of this workshop was violence. The main idea of this space was to share in public the ways we, as women, have experienced violence in our daily life, to then categorize the kinds of violences we are most exposed to and come up with alternatives to face, address and tackle them. However, the workshop lasted at least 15 hours. I was totally shocked by the number of women telling their terrifying experiences. It was also completely bleak, because I can assure that on average around 85% of the participants who told their stories were women of colour and from the south (mostly Latins). This figure is not because we are talking about Mexico, a Latin country, as the workshop was attended by people from at least 40 nationalities. 

After several hours of listening and understanding the issue of violence, our bodies were tired and our minds were exhausted, but our task was to listen to everyone, to lend a hand, and support each other. We were sure about something: we are going through a moment in life in which what governs is a neoliberal feminist narrative. Yes, women can vote, women can achieve better jobs, they can compete against men and win, but back home, everything changes. On that journey, women cannot go back home without fear. Fear of being kidnapped, of suffering from sexual harassment, or something worse, of being murdered. There are great battles won by feminists in some public and private institutions, but in our daily lives, the government and men continue to kill us, in the streets, in the school, in our own houses. And although this is an international issue, there is no justice, nor laws that protect us. Femicide is reduced only to figures, and in this world of numbers, life is worthless. In Mexico, at least 9 women are killed every day just for being female[1], meaning that these murders are a sex-based hate crime. And they always go unpunished, there is never a culprit and there are never answers for these types of murders. They only fill the shelves and archives of the courts.The greatest consolation to this is that the feminist struggle continues and although it gets harder every day, we know that the anger we feel will make us foster new changes.

 Puuff… the encounter was more than sadness and bitter moments. There were other more hopeful workshops, in which the importance of recreation, self-care and self-defense were the order of the day. Workshops on poetry, art, dance, and culture were spaces in which we felt safe, respecting, listening, and understanding each other.We discussed the importance of readjusting care work processes in our daily lives, reconfiguring our role as women taking and recovering any social space, and building up strategies to foster new ways of doing economics, where our bodies, nature, and life are not commodified. Nature was always the main actor in all discussions, our bodies as territories and the defense of the mother earth in times of an epistemological and ecological crisis. 

During three days of sharing our experiences and commitment to readjust this world full of injustices, we promised to keep on reflecting everything that was discussed there, and spread the word with other women who could not attend and come up with new imaginaries to solve our daily struggles in a communitarian organization. The next meeting is in December 2020 where we will not only listen, combine, and share experiences but also assume the role of participants who come with proposals for a better life. 

Para un buen vivir, de los sujetos, de la naturaleza, y de la naturaleza con los sujetos. 


[1]Esquivel, K. (2018). 9 women are murdered in Mexico every day. Retrieved from: https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/9-murdered-everyday.

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