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International Women’s Day in the Land of Femicides

Left Voice interviews Mexican socialist, Joss Espinoza. She is a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and an activist in the socialist women’s organization “Pan y Rosas” (Bread and Roses).

Joss Espinosa

March 7, 2017
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What is planned for March 8?

March 8 of this year promises to be historic. The call for an international women’s strike has been taken up in more than 40 countries. In Mexico City, women’s organizations are holding a demonstration at 5pm.

We are calling on the trade union federations that consider themselves oppositional to mobilize their members. This is necessary so that not just women, but all workers strike.

As Pan y Rosas (an international socialist women’s group), we have been organizing activities such as discussions, performances, poster making, and mural painting in schools, universities, and workplaces where we have militants. We don’t just want to protest – we want to build a widespread women’s movement that fights for our collective liberation.

A central theme is sexist violence.

Mexico is the land of femicides – seven women are murdered every day. There is also a high grisly number of women who disappear as human traffickers’ networks collaborate with the state.

Violence against women occurs in several ways. We women work double or triple shifts every day. After finishing our wage labor, we have a second, unpaid working day in the household. 70 percent of the most precarious contracts in the country are held by women. And we earn 25 percent less than men.

Since education is not isolated from the realities of the country, sexist violence is also present at the university. Sexual harassment has increased in recent years, and the university authorities protect the aggressors. This is one reason why we need an independent organization of women.

What are other themes for international women’s day?

We are mobilizing against the misogynist and homophobic U.S. President Trump who is attacking our class brothers and sister directly. On March 8, we want to fight against Trump and his wall fram both sides of the border.

But there are also measures of the Mexican government of Peña Nieto that affect us as workers and youth, especially the increase in gas prices (“gasolinazo”), which has led to price increases for transport and basic goods. We must also oppose attempts to privatize education. International Women’s Day is taking place within the context of all the recent struggles against the government.

A big debate within Mexican feminism is the question of whether women should struggle together with men. What is the position of “Pan y Rosas”?

In our opinion, a movement that aims for our liberation cannot be a separatist one. We want to make clear that the division between men and women is functional for the university authorities, for the bosses, and for the bourgeoisie because it keeps us isolated from and in competition with each other. Any liberation movement has to overcome these divisions imposed on us from above.

At the same time, we need to convince our male colleagues that heteropatriachal oppression disadvantages them as well, even though not to the same degree. This is about more than just the stereotypes that men have to live with – the low wages that we earn also lower the wages of male workers. We need unity among all workers to fundamentally change reality.

But if you advocate a common struggle with men, why do you have a special women’s organization?

“Pan y Rosas” emerged as a women’s organization to approach the question of women’s oppression with a class struggle perspective. We women are oppressed with double and triple chains which makes it more difficult for us to become political subjects. That is why special organizational spaces for women are necessary — so that we can speak about all problems that affect us as women. But this project is not divided from our goal which is the construction of a revolutionary workers’ party. We have spaces for women, but struggle together with men.

Interviewed by Wladek Flakin

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Joss Espinosa

Joss is a student from Mexico City and a member of the Socialist Workers Movement (MTS).

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