Argentina is probably not thought of as one of the world’s most feminist countries. Sexism is palpable as soon as a woman sets foot outside her door in Argentina, with piropos, or “compliments” masquerading as unsolicited catcalls. This was so commonplace that a law was introduced in 2016 that would fine anyone accused of sexual harassment in the street between $200 to $1,000 ARS ($10 to $50 USD) (or obligate the person to complete two days of community service). However, this law is almost impossible to enforce and very few aggressors actually face punishment. Though this is just one facet of the plight that women face in Argentina, it is symptomatic of gender inequality, female subjugation and a much larger structural sexism.
Argentinians are more than fond of a protest, and everything from politics to employee rights generates almost daily protests in Buenos Aires and around the country. However, year after year, the women’s march on March 8, 8M, has increased in size, involving more and more causes, groups and organisations fighting for their rights and the rights of oppressed women, female-identifying persons and members of the LGBTQI community. This year’s march was one of the biggest yet.
Another organization created for eradicating violence against women, the first Ni Una Menos protest was held in June 2015 following the murder of 14 year-old Chiara Páez who was found buried underneath her boyfriend’s house a month earlier. She was pregnant and had been beaten to death. The protest was aimed at drawing attention to gender-based violence in which one woman is killed approximately every 30 hours in Argentina alone. Since then, the Ni Una Menos movement has taken off around Latin America and has come to represent the new wave of feminism across the continent. It has also provided a springboard for a whole host of other issues that are coming to light, the most visible of which is the fight for legal abortion in Argentina, which is still illegal in the Catholic country.
Considering Argentina’s record in progressive legislation (it was the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010), it is still decades behind when it comes to safe and legal abortions. A big protest was organised in Buenos Aires at the end of February this year during which women came together to march to Congress to demand free, safe and legal abortions. Gender parity, gender equality, an end to gender-based violence and femicide, legal abortions and equality in domestic labour are just some of the issues that were raised during the 2018 8M march. Expect next year’s event to be even bigger, with more awareness and, hopefully, new changes being implemented.