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March 8th is for the lives of women, from Brazil to Palestine

Brazilian women will take to the streets for a ceasefire in Palestine, punishment for coup plotters, and the legalization of abortion

Resistência-PSOL (Brazil)

On the eve of March 8th, it’s time to ask ourselves: in what global and Brazilian scenario will women take to the streets this Friday? Currently, there is a barbaric genocide of the Palestinian people promoted by the State of Israel. Donald Trump confirms his eligibility by the U.S. Supreme Court and remains one of the favorites for the U.S. elections. Black, indigenous, immigrant populations, particularly women and children, are the main affected by the effects of climate change, suffering constant environmental racism. Last year, Javier Milei was elected president of Argentina, the same country that in 2015 stood up against femicide shouting “Not one less” and gave rise to the green tide, which led to the legalization of abortion at the end of 2020.

Here in Brazil, we are living in turbulent times. It was women, particularly black, poor, northeastern, and younger women, who were primarily responsible for Bolsonaro’s defeat at the polls last year. However, we know that Brazilian neofascism and its misogynistic, racist, and LGBTI+phobic policies remain strong and mobilizing a significant portion of the population. Until there is punishment for the coup plotters, particularly the arrest of Bolsonaro and the generals involved with January 8th, as well as answers about who ordered the killings of Marielle and Anderson, there will be no justice. Gender and racial political violence, the recent murders of Mother Bernardete and Nega Pataxó, the femicide of the artist Julieta Hernández, the constant death threats to black, trans, lesbian leaders and parliamentarians, along with overwhelming rates of femicide and domestic violence, continue to be a reality that needs to be fought against.

The feminist movement and March 8th, in particular, can play a fundamental role in the current situation by raising high the banner of “No amnesty for coup plotters” and “Ceasefire now in Palestine,” as well as firmly standing in the fight for the decriminalization and legalization of abortion and an end to violence against women. After the rally that mobilized thousands on Avenida Paulista, and which rightly waved flags of Israel, we need a strong response in the streets. Anyone who believes that March 8th, as a feminist date, is not the ideal moment for this response has not understood anything about the advancements and the place that the women’s movement has accumulated in recent years.

The feminist movement is anti-fascist!

Since 2015 and 2016, in Brazil, combined with an international process, we have experienced the emergence of what became known as the Feminist Spring. This phenomenon, interconnected with the anti-racist and LGBTI+ struggle, was linked to the challenges of our time. Endowed with a “for the 99%” program, it was an active part of the fight against the growth of conservatism in our country, from the moment Eduardo Cunha presided over the Chamber of Deputies and presented projects against our reproductive rights, while at the same time orchestrating the reactionary and misogynistic coup against Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff.

During the Temer government, the feminist movement was at the forefront of confronting the spending ceiling amendment and the pension and labor reforms, organizing massive marches on March 8th, while also strengthening the debate on the international women’s strike and the crisis of social reproduction, demanding public policies and rights.

In 2018, just a few days after March 8th, we were struck by the brutal assassination of then-PSOL councilwoman Marielle Franco, a true turning point that marked the escalation of violence by far-right political and paramilitary groups. The reaction was immediate, and the strength in the streets multiplied until culminating in the massive #EleNão (#NotHim) movement, on the eve of Bolsonaro’s election, in a gigantic and nationwide antifascist feminist mobilization. As a consequence of this process, we saw a series of women, black, indigenous, grassroots leaders, assuming seats in parliament and being at the forefront of the struggles. Just like the Women’s March against Trump in early 2017, shortly after his election, and a series of feminist mobilizations against conservative agendas and in defense of our lives. It is true that we did not manage to stop the advance of fascism in the world. But it is also true that women, particularly black, immigrant, LGBTQ+ women, were at the forefront of confronting these sectors, and continue to be so.

The fight for reproductive justice and the legalization of abortion

Throughout this entire process, the debate on sexual and reproductive rights, more precisely on reproductive justice, has gained strength. The defense of legal abortion and the reaffirmation of the struggle for abortion legalization, besides representing the historical banner of feminists, signify confronting Bolsonarism at the root of its ideas: conservatism and religious fundamentalism materialized in the practice of “moral panic,” which, under the guise of defending the family, becomes a driver of misogynistic, racist, and LGBTI+phobic discourses. In a series of countries, access to legal abortion has advanced, and we recently saw France formally incorporating into its Constitution the right that had already existed since 1975 in the country. On the other hand, with the conservative offensive of the far-right, other countries in the world such as the USA, Hungary, Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have regressed in access to abortion.

In September of last year, on the eve of her retirement [from the Supreme Court (STF)], Minister Rosa Weber forwarded her favorable opinion for the approval of ADPF 442 (presented by PSOL and ANIS Institute) to the STF, which proposes the decriminalization of abortion in Brazil. Even though we are far from seeing legal abortion incorporated into SUS [the public health system] as a state public policy, advancing towards its decriminalization would be very important, as thousands of women every year die or suffer from sequelae as a result of unsafe abortions. The reality today, after years of the Bolsonaro government with women like Damares Alves and Michelle Bolsonaro being spokespeople for anti-abortion terrorism, is that access to abortion in Brazil has regressed even in cases where abortion is allowed by law: anencephaly of the fetus, risk to the woman’s life, and pregnancy resulting from rape, which includes pregnancies of girls up to 14 years old.

Therefore, on this March 8th, we will also take to the streets to defend the lives of girls and women and to state the obvious: a child is not a mother, and a rapist is not a father! The State is secular and the choice belongs to the woman! The guarantee of support, referral, and provision of a safe abortion in cases provided by law is the obligation of the State and will be demanded by the feminist movement to advance as public policy. Those who suffer the most are poor, black, indigenous women because, as we know, those who can afford private abortion services can do so safely. It is a matter of public health and the defense of women’s lives!

Protests in all capitals: painting the streets purple and green!

The organization for March 8th is in full swing in cities all around the world, and of course, also in Brazil. Here, we’ve had packed meetings in the capitals bringing together women to plan the route of the rally, prioritize the key issues, organize columns, drumming, etc. We stand with women worldwide who will take to the streets to honor the memory of so many Palestinian babies, children, and women executed by the State of Israel, as well as to show solidarity with so many others who have been mutilated, who have lost their families, who are starving, demanding an immediate ceasefire, an end to the genocide!

We will take to the streets to defend democracy, to fight for punishment for those responsible for the attempted coup on January 8th [2023], and to demand answers now about the execution of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes, reinforcing the call for mobilization on March 14th, when the crime completes 6 years. No amnesty for the coup plotters, past and present! There is a call for a unified mobilization on March 23rd, and March 8th should serve as the beginning of a journey of struggles that gain more and more strength. The defeat of fascism in Brazil and in the world will not be easy, much less quick, and it requires an uncompromising confrontation that will undoubtedly be led by women, black people, and the LGBTI+ community.

We will defend our lives for reproductive and environmental justice, for an end to harassment and sexist, racist, and transphobic violence. Our unity and presence in the streets are the way to establish trenches against setbacks and defend our rights. Let us not miss the opportunity to make beautiful demonstrations next Friday. The street will be ours!