Latin American feminisms and transfeminisms are characterised by their heterogeneity, as they have been shaped by each country’s different political, economic, social, and cultural realities. Although there are certain common elements in most of our countries, such as the fight against gender violence, the defence of the right to abortion, and equal pay, each has had its trajectory in the development of the feminist movement.

Latin America and the Caribbean is a region undergoing profound transformations in the context of a global crisis and the entry into the digital phase of the capitalist system. It is also a territory where the forms of struggle led by popular movements in defence of their rights are multiplying.

Women and dissidents are, among all social sectors, those who bear the brunt of inequality. According to a report published by the World Bank this year, “in Latin America and the Caribbean there are 655 million people, of whom 332 million are women. If we consider women of working age (15-64), 58% are economically active, which means that about 29% of the total population from Mexico to Argentina are women in paid employment. In contrast, men in the region account for more than 322 million (49.3% of the population). Some 82% of them are economically active between the ages of 15 and 64, which represents 40.4% of the total”.

In other words, the difference in the employment rate of women and men, 29% and 40.4% respectively, “is a clear example of the gender gap and is a pattern reproduced in different countries in Latin America and the world”. Within the working class itself, it is women and dissidents who, in addition to the different types of violence, suffer the consequences of the wage gap, which is inherent to the capitalist system and linked to the sexual division of work.

Furthermore, the physical violence to which women and dissidents are subjected in Latin America and the Caribbean is alarming. In its latest report, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) diagnosed the persistence of the problem in 26 countries and territories: a woman is murdered for gender-related reasons every two hours.

At least 1,945 women, adolescents, and girls were victims of femicides in Latin America and the Caribbean in the first half of 2023, when there was an increase of 12.5% compared to the same period last year, according to the latest Latin American Map of Femicides (MLF). The 1945 crimes against women in the first semester correspond to 15 Latin American countries, which gives a daily average of at least 10 in the region, according to the MLF, based on a regional analysis of data from 17 civil society organisations -most of them belonging to the Latin American Network against Gender Violence- and systematised by the MundoSur Association.

If compared to the same period in 2022, considering the 14 countries analysed (Brazil was excluded, as we do not have the information for that period), there is a 12.5% increase in the number of femicides.

For its part, violence against the LGTTBINB+ collective is a tool for the reproduction of the system that sustains mechanisms of coercion that serve to maintain societies ordered in a scheme of production of surplus value that is appropriated by an elite. Under certain schemes of values, imposed by the powerful, everything that does not follow social standards is “normativised”, the “male-female” binarism, to give an example, a value that pigeonholes the person into only two characterisations within the sex, either feminine or masculine, or female or male, leaving out those who do not live this way, those who do not feel identified with the assigned gender.

According to data from the Trans Murder Monitoring 2023 research project by TGEU (Transgender Europe), between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023, 320 trans and gender-diverse people were reported murdered worldwide. The project warns that this is “only a small sample of the reality”, as it corresponds only to reported cases, mostly in countries with strong networks of trans and LGBTI organisations that carry out monitoring.

Latin America and the Caribbean again reported the highest number of documented murders of all regions for another year. Brazil is by far the country that has recorded the highest number of murders of trans and gender-diverse people worldwide, with 100 cases documented between October 2022 and September 2023, almost a third (31%) of the global total. Mexico and the United States registered the next highest numbers, with 52 and 31 cases, respectively. Alongside this, in Mexico, from January to May 2023, 19 murders of LGBTIQ+ people were registered and 13 of these cases were trans women in the country. Dissident workers, among all social sectors, not only suffer exploitation as a working class by the economic groups that concentrate wealth, but also bear an extra burden of inequality because of their sexual orientation.

An institutional policy: access to abortion in tension

Access to abortion in Latin America is unequal, partly because of the social condemnations surrounding it, but also because of how it is dealt with institutionally in each territory. Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay are the Latin American countries whose legislation contemplates abortion as a right to which women can have access voluntarily, safely, and free of charge, within the weeks of gestation regulated by their system (Uruguay and Mexico up to 12 weeks, Argentina up to 14 weeks and Colombia up to 24 weeks).

However, even though abortion is not completely decriminalised in other countries in the region, nine countries in Latin America provide for legal abortion on at least one ground, the most common of which are the grounds of the health of the pregnant woman, foetal health, sexual violence and non-consensual insemination.

Mexico’s decriminalisation of abortion is the oldest in the region, having been proclaimed in 2007 with 46 votes in favour, 19 against and one abstention. Although the law exists, free and informed access for Mexican women seeking abortion has not been guaranteed, due to the lack of awareness of the law’s existence, as well as the willingness of governments and institutions to finance and legitimise it.

The countries considered restrictive are Bolivia, Brazil and Chile, which only recognise the grounds of health and sexual violation, and Bolivia and Chile recognise foetal conditions incompatible with extra-uterine life. It should be noted that only a few days ago, Brazil had joined the debate to decriminalise the voluntary termination of abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, however, the vote was suspended without a date to restart.

On the other hand, faced with the possibility of a setback that alarmed Chilean feminists in the area of women’s rights, after spokespersons for the Constitutional Council ratified its intention to repeal abortion, hundreds of women gathered in the centre of Santiago de Chile in a “pañuelazo” that emphasised the defence of the law on the interruption of pregnancy before the exit vote that was held on 17 December.

Argentina is no exception, concerning the proposals of President Javier Milei, where a step backwards in the right to abortion, won two years ago after a complex process, where the “green tide” was at the forefront and won the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity, eliminated by decree on 11 December, 24 hours after the new government took office.

Feminism as a social subject disputing the streets

On International Working Women’s Day, women and dissident workers from Latin America and the world once again took to the streets, stopping at their workplaces as part of the International Feminist Strike and flooding the social networks to make visible the historical inequalities to which they are subjected, recognising themselves as working class, and opposing the project of popular feminisms to the neoliberal offensive that falls with all its violence against those who “move and have the capacity to stop the world”.

Women workers marched with specific demands according to the political reality of each country.

In Argentina this year, the focus was on the rejection of patriarchal justice and the agreement with the IMF, pointing out that both political violence and “the consequences of debt repayment” contracted by the government of Mauricio Macri, particularly affect women, girls and dissidents.

In Peru, in turn, women mobilised, requesting “international solidarity with Peruvian women in struggle”. They are currently pointing out that Dina Boluarte is repressing peasant and indigenous women “with particular cruelty”, while denouncing the arbitrary arrests of dozens of women social leaders who oppose the illegitimate government, following the coup against Pedro Castillo.

In Brazil, feminist movements remembered the councilwoman murdered during the government of Jair Bolsonaro, Marielle Franco, who was also honoured by President Lula da Silva, with the creation of the “National Marielle Franco Day against Political Violence by Race and Gender” to be held every 14 March.

The 3rd of June, “Ni Una Menos” Day began in Argentina but today it is a banner in Latin America and the world. As well as happening in the country of origin, this year Uruguay was also a protagonist of the protests, where a march was held in repudiation of violence against women, with mobilisations in more than 15 departments. In Chile, the main demonstration took place in Plaza Italia in the city of Santiago.

The agenda of feminisms and transfeminism also includes 25 November as a day of struggle all over the world. The International Day of Struggle Against Violence Against Women is used to demand public policies in all countries to eradicate violence against women, while the precariousness of life worsens, and male violence that crosses family and extra-family relationships intensifies. In addition to the usual slogans, this year the genocide perpetrated by the State of Israel in Gaza, which is taking the lives of thousands of girls, boys, and women, was condemned, while the international community does nothing effective to stop the conflict.

In this scenario, it is worth asking ourselves why the violent right and ultra-right, which are now multiplying around the world, place the feminist and diverse movement among their privileged enemies. What will be the task of the feminist movement in the face of the advance of governments with fascist overtones? Some answers are appearing in everyday political praxis. In each act of political disobedience to the system, with time, the productive and reproductive FORCE put at the disposal of popular organisation, for the construction of other social relations and for the necessary political battles that make it possible to remain on the offensive, in a patriarchal, capitalist and racialised world, which is creaking in all directions and which it is urgent to transform from its roots.