Commentary. After Saturday’s march of 200,000 feminists through the streets of Rome, smaller groups planned ways to continue the demonstration.

Women plan a worldwide strike against gender violence

This is a global movement that is motivated, inclusive and competent. It carefully points out its targets of criticism, but does not dismiss them. After the main event, which brought 200,000 people to the streets in Rome against male violence and feminicides, on Sunday women literally filled the Faculty of Psychology. The auditorium was not large enough to hold the more than 1,300 people who wanted to attend the plenary session. Despite the exertion and commitment of a full day of discussion, if the out-of-towners did not have to go back to their respective homes, they would have continued talking, discussing and planning. Those who stayed in Rome continued to speak at the San Lorenzo Square, over a bottle of beer which passed from hand to hand.

At eight tables, the organizers plotted a path forward. The specific proposals were framed around two dates: an upcoming two-day meeting (to be held on Feb. 4 and 5, most likely in Bologna), and a global women’s strike on March 8. These initiatives retake the spirit and the letter of the proposal made by the Argentine and Latin American Women on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The resistance of the Mirabal sisters, murdered by dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in 1960, hovered strongly on Sunday over the common intention of women not to feel like victims anymore.

A new “international feminist,” according to some, who want to fill with meaning the date of March 8, which has become a ritual. The general strike — the suspension of all activities that began in Latin America after the particularly heinous rape of an Argentinian teenager — has spread across five continents the message sent from Poland and other European cities a few months ago. The meeting made reference to this path, which was also attended by organizations from other countries: Some greeted the plenary while others enriched the work of thematic groups or marched the day before during the demonstration. On the edges of the main meeting, women gathered from different backgrounds: Sinti, Palestinian, Kurdish and Venezuelan, and many young girls marched accompanied by their peers: They are unaware of the previous routes, but they certainly reflect a great perception of the theme.

The assembly welcomed the tenacity of the Polish women, who have blocked the law to a further narrowing of the right to abortion, as well as the courage of Turkish women against the project to legalize the rape of minors. They also praised the sacrifice of Honduran Berta Cáceres and the environmentalists in the fight against the excessive power of multinational corporations.

It moved from indignation to solutions, but without compromises. Innovative and radical, the movement seems determined not to be ballasted by byzantinists or by self-censorship; however, it wants to have an impact and weigh on the overall policy choices, “to use relations with the institutions to open spaces both at the regional and at national levels.” These will be based on true skills and years of work experience in the field: with women victims of trafficking, in refuges, with immigrants, in schools and in hospitals. In the discussion tables on Sunday, they discussed the framework of a law proposal against gender violence: that begins “from the bottom up” and from concrete experiences, from the desertions and omissions in the rules and governments, which leave no spaces and no support for the work “in the trenches” of women against male violence and its sprawling branches.

The final communiqué says: a “feminist national action plan that it is useful and effective. When it is ready we will ask for its implementation with all our strength.” From now until February, the proposals generated by the tables will be deepened, in topics like labor, welfare, sexism in information and movements, and migrant feminism. These will be “laboratories of thought and practices, self-training and self-defense” to name and prevent sexism “even in the closest political places.”

These are proposals for “educating about the differences,” to reclaim the space and the word, outside the security and punitive concerns, the patriarchal, paternalistic or neocolonial answers. The women of Latin America, who have led to structural change paths like in Venezuela, give the indication to combine women’s liberty and freedom for all, the gender issue and the question of class: towards a global welfare and universal citizenship. A very young woman declared at the plenary: “The revolution will be feminist or will not be at all.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!