By RICARDO CASTILLO
At a still-short distance, the two days of woman power demonstrations witnessed last weekend are difficult to define. What was it? A protest? A demand for being accepted as women, without the branding of sex objects Mexican machos tag them with? To put a stop to sex/requesting pickup lines like “mooa mooa mamacita” macho males constantly harass girls with?
There may be some of that, but the real protest was and is against the terrifying amount of murders of women that have occurred over the past five years. This, in fact, is the best documented motive, and in the demonstration, dozens of crosses with names on the victims were used to grab media attention by the demonstrators.
The demonstration was definitely not a political movement. The participants outright rejected identifying with any political party, though several of them were courting them.
It was also not a labor movement for better wages and equal treatment in employment, though there is enough reason and motives for it to have been.
Yet at the end, a sum of the above answers are inevitable, given some of the reactions from different people who felt the force of the rather improvised “movement” that, much to this writer’s joy, showed that we’re dealing with women who have a different attitude toward this “patriarchal” society where they live.
Among reactions from different sectors there are two – among others – that got my attention.
The first one was from the president of the National Confederation of the Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco), who saw the two days, particularly the second, not so much as a protest but as a loss of income for the economy at large, since, in his consideration, 70 percent of working women skipped work on Monday, March 9.
Concanaco president José Manuel López Campos figured out that women job absenteeism due to #adaywithoutwomen cost the economy a loss of about 30 billion pesos, “15 percent more than we had figured on.”
He said most of Mexico’s registered chamber of commerces reported that, although male workers did attend lots of businesses, they either “had to close early” given insufficient womanpower.
and, of course, banks, which have a majority of women employees, “did not even open for business.”
Did women send a message to what is called in Mexico the entrepreneurial sector? López Campos said it did.
First, it underscored the importance of labor by women, who make up about 40 percent of the workforce, and, second, the stoppage will influence the way women are seen at work in the entrepreneurial sector.
”we hope this to be the case so that laboring and social conditions may become more equal in respect to women in general,” he said.
That was the point of view of business. But then there was the political point of view of conservatives, “our adversaries”, as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calls them.
Catholic LaSalle University professor Claudia Pedraza, for instance, was asked about her reaction to the demonstrations and she replied that it only served to prove that AMLO and Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum show “contempt” for anti-femicide protests “because it increases the perception of insecurity in this city in which we live in insecurity on a daily basis.” She did not give any details, but she definitely put the blame on AMLO and Sheinbaum.
For the most part on Monday,?all federal and Mexico City (as well as most state and municipal) government offices were closed, but according to a survey carried out by El Economista financial daily, the women who could not take the day off were nurses at government and private hospitals.
“Conviction, compromise and responsibility move us,” said Erika Guerrero, a nurses’ department head at the La Raza Medical Center.
”But I support the movement even though I could not attend the Women’s Day demonstration yesterday because I had to work. My support is this, attending work to look after the health of other women.”
At the La Raza Medical Center, hundreds of doctors and nurses did work, but over their white robes they wore a purple ribbon.
Different banking brands reported that over 50 percent of their operations stopped. BBVA Bancomer said that out of their 1,800 branches, around 53 percent, some 900 offices were closed. Equally, Citibanamex and Santander reported that over 50 percent of branches were closed.
It must be pointed out too that beyond participation for the dignity of women, there were some who purported violence. On Sunday, March 8, at the Zócalo square in Mexico City, one participant hurled a Molotov bomb onto a group of women, injuring two of them with severe burns, including a photojournalist from the daily El Universal. This was deemed by authorities as an act of terror, not of protest, and the woman, who was filmed throwing the lit bottle with gasoline, is now on the wanted list. Some 30 people were arrested, some were males for violence against marchers, and some were women for violence against other participants.
But back to the beginning: What to make of all this? Definitely, politicians see votes wherever they see an 18 or over girl, but it was clear that this was not the gist of the marches.
The gist was that women are aware of the violence they are undergoing in ”Macholand,” and that on that one subject against they stand together, without the need of belonging to an ideology or a political organization.
They are only – and not more – a movement of victimized women.