03 08 2020 / Montevideo, Uruguay: Woman in the 8M protest
Photo by Vale Cantera/Shutterstock.com
For a world in which we work to sustain life, not for the profits of the rich.
The world has not stopped, we (women) continue to sustain life. Faced with the pandemic, it is said that the world has stopped, again making our work invisible and negating that this crisis is impacting us unequally, and most severely impacting women and dissidents. Women and dissidents are working more than before, and in more precarious ways. Unpaid reproductive and care work has intensified. At the same time, we are expected to work online, especially in sectors which are feminized, like education and general services. Levels of exploitation and precarity are increasing, and there is no limit on hours or space between domestic work and paid work. Domestic space, our bodies and our time are being used as laboratories by capital. We will not normalize this situation!
The health crisis, the impossibility of attending to everyone in hospital, makes evident what we have been saying from feminisms: that domestic space is political and produces value, that historically, the system sustains itself on our invisibilized work. Otherwise, who would care for those that don’t have a bed in the hospitals? These health measures assume that there is a “reserve army” that can care for free for the lives of those who have been discarded by neoliberalism. Jobs that are historically badly paid, looked down upon and even not considered as forms of work (which fall mostly on women and dissidents as well as racialized people and migrants) have today become essential in order to guarantee the lives of all. We must communally re-valorize and socialize care.
Our health and our lives over their profits. If our lives are at risk, we cannot continue to produce for the rich. The priority should be the care for everyone’s lives, not the profits of the UPM [a Finnish pulp and paper company], the ARU [the Rural Association of Uruguay, which is made up of cattle rancher groups and other forestry, farming and ranching organizations], the soya companies or other capitals. We reject and we condemn that the lives of workers and their families are being experimented with. The health emergency has intensified the precarity of essential work that is strongly feminized, like heath and services. Aides, cleaners, and vendors go without basic equipment to work in a healthy way, while the owners of the big box stores, laboratories and insurance funds speculate on prices and with our lives. Health is nutritious food, housing, clean water to drink, land to cultivate, education, and healthy non-violent relationships.
Our care over your business. As health insurance companies continue to charge 100 per cent of monthly payment, we are denied primary care, which is delaying or interfering with our access to gynecologists, pediatrists, our partners are refused access to childbirth, and in some cases, access to abortion is complicated. Their savings are being made with our bodies and our lives.
We want to be liberated and debt free. As thousands of workers are without salaries or on unemployment, the rich are speculating and making increased profits through price hikes and salary cuts as the dollar rises. The solution to this social and economic crisis cannot be more debt for working and poor people and bailouts for the biggest companies.
The problem isn’t only the virus, it is racist and patriarchal neoliberalism. It is clear that neoliberalism cannot resolve this crisis, and that the magnitude of the crisis is made worse by valuing capital over life. This system cuts back and de-valorizes the work that reproduces life and favors agribusiness, which poisons our bodies and the land. This system is based on exploitation and inequality, which oppresses the poor, women, dissidents, racialized people and migrants.
Our lives are not collateral damage. “Stay at home” is not an option for everyone. For many of us, our homes are not a safe space, rather, they are where most abuse and feminicides are committed. Feminicides are not collateral damage, something inevitable during the pandemic. Staying at home is not an option when you have to go out and work in order to eat. Staying at home is not an option when you don’t have a home or for those who have been evicted from theirs. We condemn how, during the pandemic, the government and the courts are attempting to criminalize and evict the residents of Santa Catalina. We reject any eviction attempt and we condemn the alliances between real estate speculators and the courts in order to evict those who live on the land.
The care that gives us life is the most urgent. While we are killed, disappeared, exploited, made precarious, the government has put forward a bill that would increase repression, criminalize poverty and protest, and go against our freedoms. A bill that increases privatization, creates new fiscal rules, deepens the concentration of land ownership, favours foreign investment, threatens the preservation of biodiversity, attacks public education, reforms social security and weakens the right to housing. It is evident that today, our needs are otherwise: guarantee access to food, housing, health and life for all.
We will not return to domestic enclosures. We condemn that health measures are being used to increase social control, militarization and police repression. We decry the criminalization of ollas populares (community hot lunch initiatives) which are organized among neighbours and friends. We face hunger weaving solidarity, because being able to eat is urgent.
We were not born to be closed in. We do not want practices of enclosure and isolation to be considered practices for health or rehabilitation, in mental hospitals, jails, health centers or psychiatric clinics.
Wherever our bodies are, anti-racist struggle is alive. Afro-descendent and diverse women live multiple discriminations in our bodies, based on gender, class, ethnicity, social class and sexual orientation. There is huge inequality with respect to employment, health, education and access to political participation, as well as the recognition of our contribution to culture, which continue to be limited. Structural and institutional racism radically demarcates and determines our human development. We will not tire of saying that race doesn’t exist, that race was invented to justify exploitation and the oppression of slavery, which ended recently in our continent and which is still alive behind other masks. Racism was born of scientific discourse and sustains capitalism to this day.
We don’t want to go back to normality, because normality is the problem. It is necessary to re-valorize and socialize care, reproductive work (which produces life) cannot continue to be the least valued. We want a future in which care of life and nature is in the center.
We sustain life to transform it. We struggle and organize to care for life. We weave networks of affective and material support, we sustain community lunches and meals, we are alert in the face of patriarchal violence. We are the weaving that supports us. We continue to move the world as we change it.
The exit from this crisis must be feminist, migrant, plurinational, anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, anti-prison, anti-capitalist, anti-extractivist and anti-fascist.
In the streets or in the houses, the uprising continues.
Feminists towards May first.
Asamblea de mujeres, lesbianas y trans de Paysandú
Colectivo Bibi – Ni Una Menos Soriano
Colectivo Ecofeminista Dafnias
Comisión de Mujeres, Lesbianas y Trans CEIPA.
¿Dónde están nuestras gurisas?
Feministas Organizadas de la Costa
La Cuerpa Oeste
Mujeres en Alerta de Ciudad de la Costa
Mujeres y Disidencias de UTU
Profesoras Feministas de Maldonado
Profesoras Feministas – Montevideo
Red de Feministas de Maldonado
Resonancia Feminista – Paysandú
Revolviendo La Polenta
Taller por la Liberación de la Mujer “Célica Gómez”
Vecinas en los Muros
Click here to see the original statement.
Translated by Toward Freedom.