Tag Archives: feminista

Feminista de Corazon

7 Dec

Inauguracion: El Centro Historico de Bogota, Colombia recibio a mas de 1,200 mujeres para el XII Encuentro Feminista de Latino America y del Caribe.

What happens when 1,200 feminist women in Latin America gather? An abundance of love, laughter, and a critical analysis on the state of humanity occurs. On November 23rd through the 26th of 2011, Bogota, Colombia hosted the XII Encuentro Feminsta de Latino America y del Caribe. The first official gathering happened in Colombia 30 years ago with 189 women present. Since then the Encuentro has taken place in Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries while growing tremendously in the number of participants.

The theme, “Desatar, Desnudar, y Reanudar”/ “Untie, Uncover, and Renew”, set the platform for discussing feminism in the context of power, politics, religion, identity, sexuality, human rights, war, violence, economics, self-care, culture and art. Every greeting, every workshop, presentation and discussion came with the perspective of a woman first and foremost. This way of talking, thinking, and being created a sense of empowerment and self-worth for every woman present. The gathering gave a safe space for our stories to unfold.

Mujeres Bolivianas: Five percent of the women in attendance identified themselves as indigenous.

At the Encuentro, every woman has a voice, whether that woman is indigenous or afro-descendent, urban or rural, an elder or a teenager, lower or working class. During the gathering some women are questioning their feminist identity and others are remembering they were born a feminist. With so much talk about feminism how do women in Latin America define feminism? It turns out that the gathering does not define feminism because to define it is to limit the movement and essentially that would contradict the fight against the limitations set upon us.

Instead, let me be a proponent of feminist manifestations according to what I witnessed during this 12th gathering; Feminism is the woman who shares her testimony about the eight year incarceration and sexual violations she survived during the Fujimori dictatorship. Feminists are the Quechua indigenous women who documented over 300,000 forced sterilizations in Peru who will not remain silenced. Feminism is about the woman born in a man’s body reclaiming her gender and identity. Feminism is about sex education to prevent pregnancy, access to contraceptives in order to not face abortions, and the demand for safe, legal, and free abortions so that women do not die. Feminism is also about the courage my mother had to cross borders in order to survive the 21st century.

Many women no longer identify themselves as feminist from fear of judgments or the lack of connection to feminist movements.  Many women are indeed feminist in their practice as organizers, artists, care-givers, and workers but have stayed away from the title. As for me, it is interesting to note that at the age of nine I was vowing to never marry or depend on a man. My feminism had already begun.

My feminism has also transformed since age nine. As an adult woman who has healed from her fears and inherited traumas of violence, I now believe that love and freedom can coexist between male and female relationships. And since my first Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Gathering in Mexico City in 2009, I have reclaimed my feminist identity from a place of love for humanity.

Ritual de Apertura: Women encircle a mandala representing the four directions, the elements, and the vagina during the opening ceremony to the conference.

What is felt during the Encuentro Feminista is excitement, respect, and inspiration. What is seen are hundreds of women from the margins of war-torn countries, impunity driven justice systems, and catechist run countries lifting their voices in unison as feminists. What I understand about the feminist movement in Latin America is that it exists because women refuse to remain silent and suffer at the hands of the state, the church, or their partners. As one feminist related, “La politica del feminismo es la politica de la desobedencia / the politics of feminism, is the politics of disobedience!” In other words, to obey “tradition” has meant that women have had to give up their thoughts, their opinion, even their own bodies. These experiences where women have felt a loss of power, freedom, and safety have driven women to disobey, unite, and take action for humanity. Feminism exists because it believes that every human being has the right to live a free and dignified life.

The next Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Gathering will happen in 2013 in Peru, South America. Currently there is a contingent of first generation women from New York, which includes representatives from AF3IRM, who will be attending the next gathering. Is there a Los Angeles feminist contingent out there? It is encouraged to reclaim our feminist identity and feel it from a place of love, liberation and justice. Vamos!

For a full photo-essay on the conference go here or www.af3irm.org, all photographs(c) taken by Lei Lani Montes (AF3IRM NY Coordinator)

For official information on this year’s gathering go to: www.12encuentrofeminista.org.

This piece will be published on December’s issue of Brooklyn and Boyle. 

Witness to a feminist movement in Guatemala

25 Oct

I made it! To Guatemala. The plane ride sucked. I left LAX at 2am and woke up from time to time on the plane. When the sunrise showed thru the window, it was absolutely beautiful. A thin orange and red glow outlined the top of mountains and the navy darkness covered the rest of the open sky. 

On Monday I went to check out my friend Kimberly Bautista’s film, Justice For My Sister. This film is about a womyn and her relentless efforts to fight impunity and convict the murderer of her sister. Even though her family is threatened, she continues to fight head on for her sister. In the struggle for her sister, she opens a fight larger than herself. It is a fight where a whole nation of womyn are seeking justice and an end to impunity. It was shown at a gathering of organizers preparing themselves to take on a nation wide campaign to help womyn against violence. My cousin, my mom and sister went with me. I’m so glad that they went. 

I had not seen the film in LA. But I am glad I saw it in Guatemala. The discussion after the film was so raw and truthful.   Every womyn that spoke yesterday has a personal story to share about how patriarchy and machismo has hurt them in their lives. One womyn shared how she hid her pregnancy until the day after she graduated from school. She was afraid her father would not let her finish her education. There is an ever growing urgency by womyn to demand an end to a culture that has allowed womyn to be mistreated, under-educated, raped, and killed. 

Violence against womyn happens at so many levels in Guatemala and around the world. But i sense a movement that is only growing bolder, stronger, and louder. This movement is telling boys and men to help womyn take care of the home. It is pleading with men to stop hitting their partners and instead learn to communicate and create harmony at home. It is telling men to take responsibility within their fatherhood. It’s telling society to respect single mothers. That a womyn’s body belongs her and not to a man or the state. This movement has recognized that their is war on womyn’s bodies and it needs to end. 

Silence is ending. Today i went to a womyn’s art festival, El Festival Ixchel. It is a 2 week long series of events organized by womyn. They have created spaces for womyn to showcase their art, sculpture, photography, graffiti, film, poetry, and music. Tonight i saw a series of short films made by Guatemalan womyn. Each film is dynamic, taking on multiple issues that affect womyn. One of my favorite short films was done by a collective of Indigenous womyn from Solola named Asociación Centro de mujeres comunicadora mayas “Nutzij”. You can check here and here to learn about them.

I am witnessing a feminist movement in my mother’s homeland. It is not a new movement, but it is colorful. It makes sense, Guatemala is very colorful!