​Women Stand Up to Femicide and Domestic Violence in Uruguay

Hundreds of women stormed the streets up Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, to protest against gendered violence and domestic abuse. A string of femicides in the preceding month sparked outrage in the South American country. A recent movement to protest gendered violence has surged through part of the continent, as highly publicized femicides have taken over the front pages in Uruguay and nearby countries, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia.

Women and feminist organizations march against femicide in Montevideo, Feb. 8, 2017.

Women and allies took to the streets with the rallying cry “Ni una menos,” which translates to “Not one less,” a demand for no future femicides.

Demonstrators carried signs commemorating the victims of femicide in the country.

In Uruguay, one woman dies every 15 days from domestic abuse. Recent activism has stirred interest in reintroducing a Gender Violence bill, which was previously stopped in the Uruguayan Senate in 2015. Uruguay’s Council of Ministers had approved a bill that aimed to “guarantee women a life free of gender-based violence.” The bill would legally define gender violence and would change criminal law thereby constructing an institutional response system in which specialized gender violence courts would rule. Additionally, this bill focused on the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by children, adolescents, the elderly, and disabled women in the context of domestic abuse. This proposed bill was able to gain traction in part because of the initiatives set forward by UN Women and the support in drafting given by multiple Uruguayan feminist organizations.

In April 2016, UN President Jim Kim committed to invest 2.5 billion over 5 years through education projects that directly benefit adolescent girls. Part of the budget is allocated to the “Improving the Quality of Initial and Primary Education in Uruguay Project” which will incorporate training about how gender influences learning and include education about ingrained social norms about masculinity and femininity. With the recent program pushes, demonstrations, and shows of solidarity, Uruguay is poised to pass this groundbreaking bill and make a difference in millions of women's lives.

The strength in a movement is not often measured in the goals they accomplish quickly, but rather in the change that is experienced by future generations. It took a whopping 70 years for the women’s movement in the US to secure the vote for all female citizens! So while we may be discouraged by the slow, grinding struggle for equality, we must not stop. The Uruguyan women will not stop. And we, at Fair Anita will not stop in our mission of unifying women across the world so that we all may one day share in greater equality.