The New Feminism in Latin America

What is new about feminism is the rigor of a gender perspective and the intensity of a globalized and connected 21 century youth.

The mobilizations against racism and machismo in Latin America are not new. The history of both gets confused with the fight against slavery and discrimination, for suffrage, work and equality between men and women.

Women participate in a demonstration for International Women’s Day, March 8, inside the grounds of the Central American University (UCA), of Managua. // Photo: EFE

What is new about Latin American feminism is the rigor of a gender perspective, matured by several generations of female intellectuals, and the intensity conferred on it by the globalized and connected youth of the 21st century.

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In the book “Latin America. From social unrest to economic and health implosion” (Critica, 2020), coordinated with my colleague Vanni Pettina, the Cuban feminist Ailynn Torres Santana argues something valid for the entire region.

New feminist demands, such as the anti-racist and environmentalists, are beginning to be more autonomous within the traditional agendas of civil society and social movements and denounce the legal stagnation of the gender approach by Latin American and Caribbean states.

What we have seen in recent days in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador and Chile shows, once again, that this stagnation affects, at different levels of severity, governments of the right or the left. In Argentina, just a few months ago, the government of Alberto Fernandez promoted a law that guarantees free and assisted abortion.

In Mexico and Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, Peru and Chile, criminalization persists, although in Mexico there has been notable progress in some states.

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Rates of sexual harassment, violence against women, and femicides remain extremely high in Latin America as a region. In Mexico, the situation is especially serious, according to a recent report by Amnesty International, which indicates that cases of femicides are on the rise. A total of 411 files were opened for this cause in 2015. In 2020 the number was 860, almost double.

These figures, as journalist Albinson Linares points out, are far below the real statistics, since only in 2019, according to official data, there were 911 femicides and 2,862 homicide attempts against women in Mexico.

These statistics speak of the delay in laws and justice in the face of gender violence.

The seriousness of the Mexican case does not illustrate an exception but rather a norm of the legislative processes and administration of justice processes in Latin America.

Laws against gender violence and the prevention, identification and punishment of femicides go three steps behind machismo and misogyny in our countries.

This distance is increasing these days, when to the conditions of inequality and helplessness that millions of women live, the repression of feminist marches in several Latin American cities is added. Repression and discrediting come from governments of the right or left. They even go so far as to present women’s groups as “coup-mongers” or “fascist.”

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Translated from the original article published in “La Razon,” of Mexico.

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