Feminists Fill the Streets on International Working Women's Day

Blogpost

In El Salvador, on International Working Women's Day, March 8, 2022 (or #8M), feminists from a broad array of social movement sectors in El Salvador took to the streets with urgent demands on behalf of women and girls. In San Salvador, women representing organized rural farmers, war veterans, student organizations, LGBTI coalitions, unionized textile and health workers, and others marched to the Legislative Assembly to reclaim their rights and call for an end to the violence and discrimination that have intensified under the Bukele administration. Their demands were received as official correspondence at the Assembly by legislators from the leftist FMLN party, Anabel Belloso and Dina Argueta.

Women and feminists also gathered the day before, on Sunday, March 7, in San Salvador’s central park to convene the feminist resistance with art, music, and other cultural expressions in anticipation of the march to the Assembly.

Specific movement demands on this 8M include the following:  A gender-focused State response to the femicides, disappearances, mass graves, and all forms of patriarchal violence, including State violence, which have reached crisis levels in El Salvador;  recognition of the rights of trans women; decriminalization of abortion; inclusive fiscal reform; an end to political persecution; approval of the food sovereignty law; redress for violations of labor rights and layoffs suffered by women, especially in the textile industry; comprehensive sex and reproductive education; domestic workers' rights; an end to the harassment and attacks on journalists by government officials; and legislation that guarantees the rights of women, among others.

Additionally, the movement is forced this year to wage a new battle to retain the Comprehensive Special Law for a Life Free of Violence for Women (LEIV), which legislators from the Nuevas Ideas party and allies have threatened to alter or repeal.  

As background, the LEIV was passed in 2010 and entered into force in 2012 under the first FMLN administration. It established public policies aimed at identifying, preventing, repairing, and punishing violence against women and is the only regulation that protects women from gender violence in El Salvador. Sonia Urrutia from the coalition of social movement organizations known as the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Bloc said that the movement was prepared to “fight tooth and nail for this law” in the face of the recent attacks against it from the Nuevas Ideas party and their allies in the legislature.  

Over the past two years, feminists have denounced severe setbacks in women’s rights and protections, which have been accompanied by an increase in femicides and disappearances. Despite President Bukele’s campaign promises to champion women’s rights, feminist organizers have decried notabe misogyny in both his discourse and policy. Various cabinet members and the president himself have degraded and harassed women, especially women journalists and those who have spoken out against the government, and throughout its term has either eliminated or made deep funding cuts to areas of women’s health and other social programs that disproportionately affect women and girls. Further, the president’s hardline security policy, known as the Territorial Control Plan, has been repeatedly called out for failing to protect women from violence; increased militarization has, in fact, subjected them to more.

In addition to the marches to the Legislative Assembly in the capital city, women also marched in other parts of the country, including in the municipality of Suchitoto, on the Custcatlán bridge, and throughout the country. Under the banner “We are stronger together," women united in a powerful and nationwide demonstration against patriarchal violence. From across El Salvador, signs read: “Why are you scared by those who fight and not by those who are missing?” “In a State that commits femicide, to be alive is rebellion. And, “Neither the earth nor women’s bodies are territories of conquest.” 

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