After a series of femicides of teenagers in Argentina, Ni Una Menos, a movement created by Argentine feminists on June 3, 2015, changed the course of history.
Eight years ago today, thousands marched in cities across the country, united in their demand: to eliminate gender based violence and its most extreme form, femicide. The feminist movement called on the government, the judiciary and Congress to work together to tackle this urgent issue.
Every year since then, feminists have gathered on June 3, demanding an end to the patriarchal violence that still kills to this very day. This year it will be at 2 p.m. outside Argentina’s Congress. “We want to be alive, free and un-indebted” is the slogan. A document agreed upon by feminist activists, unions, and social organizations who attend the assembly will be read out loud and the LGBT cumbia band Sudor Marika will play in the street.
The 2015 mass movement helped the feminist movement get its agenda in the public arena. One of its top priorities was the legalization of abortion. After a landmark vote in December 2020 allowing the procedure free of charge and for any reason, the movement, faced with a complex scenario involving the difficulties endured by indigenous women, climate change and gender, as well as sex work, began asking itself what its next unifying issue should be.
In 2019, upon his arrival in office, President Alberto Fernández ordered the creation of the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity, which sought to provide systemic State support to long-awaited feminist demands, including the regulation of the abortion law.
Despite all this, the feminist agenda in Argentina still faces many challenges.
The movement has recently been shaken by the story of María Isabel Speratti Aquino, from Cañuelas, in Buenos Aires province. Aquino was murdered on March 14 by her former partner, Gabriel Alejandro Núñez, after seeking help from the local judiciary for years and filing lawsuits against him, explicitly telling authorities she was being threatened.
Eight years after the first Ni Una Menos march, her horrifying tale of state abandonment shows how little the context has really changed for gender-based violence victims in Argentina.
The Ahora que sí nos ven femicide observatory reported 99 femicides in Argentina in the first four months of 2023, 60% of which occurred in the victim’s own home. If the murders continue at this rate, there will have been more femicides this year than in 2015, when the first Ni Una Menos march took place and 235 femicides were reported.
The world of work
According to the INDEC’s official statistics, the gender pay gap in Argentina at the end of 2022 was 22.5%. In other words, women make almost a quarter less than men for similar work.
The Economy and Gender Office was created within the Economy Ministry in 2019 to work on specific policies aimed at bridging gender-based economic divides and reducing inequalities.
Since 2018, every year’s September annual budget includes bullet points with a gender perspective or specific focus on how to tackle inequalities. In 2023, 15% of the annual budget included this outline, according to the Economy and Gender office.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 3 million women do care work in Argentina and 9 out of 10 are not paid for it. In 2021, the ministries of Labor, Economy, and Women, Genders and Diversity joined forces to create the Registered (Registradas) program, which encourages domestic workers and their employers to formalize their contracts. Formalization implies having pension contributions, paid healthcare, vacation and maternity leave.
The Registradas policy applies to those working more than six hours a week in the same household. It also dictates the government pay 50% of the monthly salary of newly hired domestic workers for the employers for six months.
Feminisms with a decolonial and intersectional approach
In recent years, there have been growing calls for the feminist movement to adopt a more intersectional approach, for instance towards indigenous women, Afro-Argentines and other marginalized gender identities of color. One of the most brutal expressions of sexist and colonialist violence against them, especially common in the Chaco, is the frequent rape and abuse of indigenous women and children by non-indigenous men, sometimes in groups. Some activists call this chineo, although others believe the term is racist because it adopts their aggressors’ language, including the slur chinitas.
A watershed moment came when a group of indigenous women occupied the Interior Ministry in 2019. After this incident, the Movement of Indigenous Women and Diversities for Living Well created the #NoAlChineo (No to Chineo) campaign, picked up by media across the world.
Indigenous activists have also criticized the National Women’s Meeting, calling on it to recognize Argentina’s plurinational nature. By this, they mean acknowledging the country is not a monolithic nation-state, but a land where dozens of indigenous nations have existed since long before the colonization of the Americas.