• Speech at the EL Summer University 2018
  • "If We Women Stop, The World Stops"

  • By Alba Gutierrez | 15 Aug 18 | Posted under: Spain , Feminisms , Social Movements and Trade Unions , Summer University
  • On the patriarchal society and the progress of the feminist movement in Spain, with focus on the 8M feminist strike.

    In the last 10 years, Spain has suffered a decrease in investments in brutal equality, despite the fact that feminicide and male chauvinism have increased considerably, the Popular Party government has reduced to a minimum the economic allocations destined to the fight against gender violence, equality plans, aid for conciliation, etc. To give you an idea, we move in figures of 99 women killed in 2017 by their partners or former partners and 48 so far in 2018. In addition to femicides, there has never been a lack of reasons for the mobilization of the feminist movement:

    ● More than 1000 women have been killed by male violence in the last 14 years.

    ● Because thousands of women are abused by our partners or former partners because they still believe they own us.

    ● Because there is no protection or reparation for us, and there is no effective security or justice for many of those we denounce, and furthermore, the current legislation is ineffective and not fully implemented, and the resources to fight against this violence continue to be insufficient.

    ● Because we are raped by men who think they own our bodies and overthrow us as persons and to show other men their dominating and violent masculinity.

    ● Because they do not believe us, because when we denounce that we have been assaulted, our testimony is questioned, the assaulted are judged and not the assailants, and it is incongruous that we are pushed to live on alert in the face of an aggression and when we are assaulted and denounced they do not believe us.

    ● Because migrant women in an irregular administrative situation are particularly unprotected against sexual violence, since reporting them can lead to the opening of a criminal case against foreigners or detention for expulsion. This conditions the possibility of seeking protection and justice.

    ● Because the working conditions of domestic workers increase impunity for perpetrators.

    ● Because we cannot occupy the public space, the leisure spaces, the night, without living experiences of harassment, intimidation and sexual aggression by men who believe that these spaces are theirs, who want to make the street, the night, the fun, a masculine territory.

    ● Because new technologies are used to harass and attack women, cyber bullying that has extreme moments and that occurs with special virulence against women who claim to be feminists.

    ● Because patriarchal violence affects women differently depending on our immigration status, our age, whether we are racialized or white; transgendered, straight, lesbian; whether we are salaried or not, domestic workers, prostitutes, whether we are mothers or not.

    ● Because we are victims of institutional violence, for example, through the judiciary and the health system, responsible for errors that affect the lives of all women.

    ● Because the State does not assume its responsibility and allows, with its passivity, impunity and the few resources allocated, for trafficking in women to continue.

    The feminist strike

    The feminist movement of the Spanish state has been working for years on a unitary response to the height of the circumstances, but it was not until March 8, 2018, when, preceded by the mobilizations in Argentina especially but also in the rest of the world, that the optimal conditions for doing so have come about. As optimal conditions, I refer to the support in the form of a strike appeal and the work stoppages of the big trade union centers and the support of the majority of leftist parties. In addition to work stoppages, the strike was completed with the appeal to stop in all areas: care, consumption, student and associative life. Under the slogan: "If we women stop, the world stops", the call placed Spain at the forefront of the movement for gender equality. It was the only country in which a mobilization had been called, accompanied at the same time by a work stoppage. And this was echoed in the main international media, which covered the day extensively. Also the coverage of the national media devoted wide informative spaces to the day, which resulted in the feeling of success of the call. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country paraded under the violet color that symbolizes the feminist movement and overflowed the streets of 120 cities. In Madrid, the organizers counted 1 million attendees, in Barcelona 600,000. In the Basque Country, the Government placed the monitoring figures at 22% where 68% were workers. But the effect of the mobilizations has been much greater than the purely labour effect. Thousands of students - many of them teenagers -, unemployed people, pensioners, carers and housewives who never appear in the official statistics also gave it their all.

    The assessment is a resounding success. We fill streets, squares, newspaper covers, information spaces, at local, national, state and international levels and we have many reasons to think that this day is historic for the feminist movement in particular and hopefully for society in general. It is true that the figures and words do not describe what happened in 8M. All those moments of sorority, complicity, emotion, smiles.... are impossible to quantify.

    The 8M was a turning point, thousands of women, some organized and many thousands unorganized, saw clearly that going out into the street, claiming collectively, walking together, and raising our voices against the heteropatriarchal system that oppresses and drowns us is necessary for this to turn around.

    The struggle goes on

    But after a first highly positive evaluation, it is true that we must work every day not to turn the day of March 8 into a festive day, but into a day of protest and of claiming our rights. In addition, the recent change of Spanish government can not allow women to demobilize due to the different changes that are adopted and the progress and achievements that are achieved in terms of equality. In particular, we must continue with our appeals:

    ● To demand from all governments that they leave statements of principles and begin to print with "violet ink" the Official Bulletins; that they commit themselves to real policies, for real equality and against patriarchal violence.

    ● To demand all union organizations to place equal opportunities, equal pay, access and promotion of women, in all the demands, at all negotiating tables, in all collective agreements that they sign, in all the covenants and agreements that they reach.

    ● To demand that all parties assume the equality of women and men as a basic element of democracy, that they include women in their "decision-making bodies/responsibilities for deciding", that they become accustomed to feeling represented by them/by us.

    ● To demand institutions, political, trade union, academic, social, cultural organizations... that apply real parity, that eliminate their patriarchal habits from their structures, that they stop using "male corporatism" to eliminate sexist behavior, that they leave to be accomplices and/or consenters of the macho violence of their colleagues; stop looking away from sexual harassment and aggression within their organizations/institutions; let them, in short, preach one thing and do another.

    That is why, from the opportunity given to me here today, I would like to encourage the comrades, women and men, who make up the Party of the European Left and the other organizations present here, to carry out a common work with a view to future calls, as we have shown that we are a movement that has the strength and muscle to defend what is rightfully ours. We have made it very clear that we want everything and we want it now, that we are not going to wait any longer.

    So far they have ignored us and accused us of being a minority, but they will no longer be able to do so, 8M shows that most women want a feminist social model.


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