Social Issues

Chilean women march with anger, hope for change

By Maria M.Mur

Santiago, Mar 8 (EFE).- Thousands of Chilean women marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday, expressing outrage at ongoing gender-based violence and hope in the incoming new government.

To the cries of “Enough already,” women of all ages and professions waved purple and green flags, the colors of feminism and decriminalization of abortion, throughout the country, although the largest demonstration took place in Santiago.

The pedestal of Plaza Italia, epicenter of the massive protests of 2019, was dyed purple and posters with the names and photographs of the dozens of women murdered by men in recent years were nailed to one side of the capital’s roundabout.

“You have to keep going out to the streets, regardless of who minds,” medical student Mariela Ramos told Efe, carrying a banner with the slogan: “I am, and will be, the owner of my body.”

At her side, pastry chef Valentina Valdés, 25, bought a green scarf at a street stall in favor of expanding the right to abortion beyond the three clauses (rape, non-viability of the fetus and danger to the life of the mother), a proposal that parliament rejected in November.

“I am very pessimistic because we have been fighting for the legalization of abortion for a long time, although sometimes I see the light and feel hopeful. I believe that times have changed and that this new government, with its ministers, will take us into account,” the young woman told Efe.

As of Friday, the progressive Gabriel Boric will lead the first cabinet with more women than men (14 to 10) on the American continent, with the independent doctor Izkia Siches at the head of the powerful interior portfolio, the first woman to occupy the post in Chile.

The future official spokeswoman, Camila Vallejo, announced Tuesday that the Ministry of Women will have its headquarters in the presidential palace of La Moneda, in an attempt to mainstream the fight for gender equity.

“Our gender agenda is not only for women, but for men, women and sexual diversities – it is for all the people,” she said.

Boric asked men last week “to take feminism seriously” because “it is not a banality or a postmodern response to identity demands.”

Pensioner Mirta Araya trusts more “in the mobilization of young women” and in the convention in charge of drafting a new constitution to replace the current one, which was inherited from the military dictatorship (1973-1990) and of a neoliberal nature.

“This is not going to change overnight, but we are on the right path and the constituents can shield the rights of women in the new constitutional text,” she told Efe near Plaza Italia.

The convention, made up largely of independent and progressive citizens and the world’s first parity, has until July to finish the new constitution, which must then be ratified in a plebiscite for its entry into force. EFE


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