Feminists Reclaim the City! The Encuentro Nacional De Mujeres in Argentina

Contributors:

Published

Gathering several tens of thousands of women every year, the Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Meeting) is a crucial event for many in Argentina. Analía Cid tells us more (with words and photos) about this annual gathering, its important political successes, but also its internal challenges.

Cid Funambulist5
More than 40,000 women participating in the final demonstration of the ENM passing through the streets of Trelew, Chubut, Argentina (October 14, 2018).

Since 2015, year of the first #niunamenos (“Not one [woman] less”) uprising, Argentinian women’s movement has been globally looked upon as an example of commitment to women’s rights and lives. With mass urban demonstrations, such as the last International Women’s Strike on March 8, 2018, or those demanding the legalization of abortion on June 13 and August 8 in the same year, images of women’s struggle quickly become viral. Why Argentina? By January 31 in 2019, a total of 32 (cis and trans) women have been killed in the country since the beginning of the year. Additionally, 2,679 femicides were committed in the country between 2008 and 2017 (La Casa del Encuentro, 2017). The amount of violence directed at women of all ages manifests in many forms, yet the consequences of so many deaths speak to structural injustice embedded in a society. Although it is clear that women are at risk, the actions taken by feminist collectives have remained hidden until recently, and so come as a surprise to the general public. This text focuses on a landmark event in Argentinian women’s movement which in many ways relates to its actual integrity and power: the Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Meeting – ENM).

Since 1986, the Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres is an event that gathers tens of thousands of women from all over the country once a year, in revolving cities. With a growing number of 50,000 women and non-binary identities attending yearly, the ENM has become a major event for feminists living in Argentina. The historical context of how these meetings came to be is broadly recognized first in the United Nation World Conference on Women which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985, despite the many Latin American and Caribbean Feminist “Encuentros” that were organized in different Latin American cities since 1981 (Alma and Lorenzo, Mujeres que se encuentran, 2009). Nevertheless, the idea of women-only meetings arose earlier: it emerged during the late 1960s in the United States with links to the second wave feminist movement, giving birth to the Consciousness Raising (CR) groups. Consciousness-raising was born as a mass-organizing tool for the liberation of women at that time, in that it exposed the reality and diversity of women’s experiences and lives. As it was said in a 1975 text from the Women’s Action Alliance: “These groups should not be thought of as therapy or encounter sessions, but as forums for mutual self-discovery. In them, away from the influences of home, work or traditional social settings, we have found ourselves freer than ever to explore our roles and our lives.” Due to the weight given to women’s voices, CR groups were adopted by several movements during the 1980s and has turned into a crucial element in the consolidation of the ENM as a national event.