Women Take to the Streets for Mexico City’s 8M March
By KELIN DILLON
On Wednesday, March 8, thousands of Mexican women flooded the streets of Mexico City for the 8M International Women’s Day march in support of women’s rights and to protest against widespread violence against women in the country that has plagued the Mexican population for decades.
Beginning by gathering at meeting points located all across the city, the multitude of women who joined the M8 march set out to meet in the Zócalo – Mexico City’s downtown square – around 3:00 PM.
Women from all walks of life participated in the protest with an array of creative signs, including a cohort of cancer survivors that used the march to advocate against gender-based medical violence that prevents women in Mexico from accessing their basic right to health care, characterizing the Mexican government’s lackadaisical approach to women’s cancer care as “institutional femicide.”
A few incidents concerning protestors were reported across the march, including the bending of security billboards and a traffic light in the city center, which were later met with the spray of fire extinguishers and tear gas in retaliation by surrounding police forces.
A small group of protesters managed to bend down a portion of the fence placed outside of Mexico City’s National Palace later in the afternoon, getting blasted by tear gas from behind the fence in retaliation. Hundreds of the surrounding women were reportedly affected with minor burns from the tear gas, with some requiring first aid.
The barricade was announced by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as a way to deter vandalism and violence from the protesters onto the National Palace, López Obrador revealed during his daily press conference on the morning of the M8 march.
“The fence is put up because (the protesters) are very violent. The right wing has always been very authoritarian and violent. They are specialists in throwing stones and hiding their hands, and they are capable of infiltrating vandals into demonstrations,” said AMLO at the time.
López Obrador also seemed to offer his verbal support for the protesting Mexican women during that very same conference, claiming that his administration stands in support of their cause, while touting the supposed progress his administration had made with women’s rights since he entered office in December 2018.
“Today, March 8 is celebrated, the struggle of women in defense of their rights is commemorated, and we stand in solidarity with these struggles for the complete emancipation of women,” said AMLO at the time. “In Mexico, much progress has been made because there is a movement in favor of women’s rights, and women have been making their way both in the daily struggles that have to do with their work in their families, in the role they play in their towns and as women who act in public service.”
It should be noted that, in spite of AMLO’s claims of his presidency’s supposedly impressive feminism, femicides have only been on the rise underneath the López Obrador administration, an issue that’s been exacerbated by the continued impunity by the government toward the perpetrators of said femicides.
The Mexican public also seems to be in disagreement with López Obrador’s assessment of his administration’s progress with women; 60 percent of the Mexican population do not believe AMLO’s presidency is a feminist administration, revealed one study, while another survey noted that 54 percent of Mexican citizens believe that Mexico’s femicide problem has only grown worse over the recent years.
For her part, newly elected Supreme Court (SJCN) Chief Justice Norma Piña – the first woman in Mexico to ever be elected to the post – spoke out in favor of the M8 protesters’ cause and confirmed the judiciary’s commitment to facilitate change in Mexico.
“It is possible and cannot be postponed that we stop discrimination and violence based on gender once and for all,” said Piña on Wednesday morning, adding that the Federal Judiciary (PJF) will begin “permanent and progressive listening” to women in vulnerable positions moving forward.
“Only by listening will we have clear evidence that allows us to address the main problems that women face in accessing justice in Mexico,” added the chief justice, while going on to recognize the “historic debt” that the Mexican judiciary owes to the nation’s women of past and present.