On March 8, 2020 – International Women’s Day – women and girls across Mexico took to the streets to march, protesting the rampant violence against women that is so prevalent across the country.
On March 9, 2020, these same women and girls disappeared from the streets, from schools, from work. March 9th was declared “Un Día Sin Nosotras,” or “A Day Without Us [Women].” This national strike, in which women abstained from work, school, shopping, and other daily activities, served to draw attention to the fact that women and girls are disproportionately violently murdered throughout Mexico.
This strike was prompted by two highly publicized and gruesome murders in February of 2020, 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla and 7-year-old Fátima Aldrighett. However, this tension had long been building as violent murders of women in Mexico have increased in recent years. Additionally, government inaction means that very few of these murders are prosecuted.
Perhaps the single most important thing I have observed and learned about during my time working at Melel Xojobal is the idea that those who are most affected by a situation or systemic injustice are those who should have the loudest voices in the conversations regarding their rights and their lives. Melel Xojobal embodies this in every aspect of their work with indigenous children, young adults, and families. And so, rather than offer my reflections on women’s rights in Mexico, I instead share with you a declaration written by indigenous girls and adolescents at Melel Xojobal’s annual girls’ and women’s retreat in October of 2019. Below, in Spanish and translated to English, is a transcript of the declaration they wrote together. This declaration details who they are and what they want from the world in order to live the safe, happy, and free lives that they deserve.
“San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. 12 de octubre de 2019.
Somos niñas y adolescentes luchando y al mundo transformando. Venimos de diferentes grupos y organizaciones como Melel Xojobal, Código F, Niñas y niños alegres de Merposur, Telesecundario Amado Nervo, Telesecundario Pablo Neruda, Niñas y niños trabajadores, tejedores y artesanos de Santo Domingo, Sueniños, Vientos Culturales, Kolem Kontotik y Tseb Pepen. Nos reunimos los días 12 y 13 de octubre de 2019 en Codimuj para platicar de las situaciones que estamos pasando las niñas, adolescentes y mujeres; también contamos historias, bailamos, hicimos teatro, jugamos, reflexionamos, y discutimos de las distintas situaciones en las que nos encontramos, hablamos de las cosas que nos ponen felices, tristes, también de nuestros miedos y sueños, nos dimos cuenta de que a pesar de que tenemos distintas edades, hay similitudes en nuestros sentimientos.
El mundo está cambiando, pero al parecer las problemáticas e injusticias que vivimos las niñas y mujeres cada vez son más graves.
Exigimos poder salir a las calles sin miedo de que nos pase algo, o seamos víctimas de algún tipo de violencia. Exigimos poder ser niñas libres y vivir en comunidades donde nuestra opinión sea tomada en cuenta, y ser tratadas como sujetas de derecho. Exigimos poder ser y expresarnos en la forma que queremos. Exigimos una educación incluyente que abarque temas sexuales y reproductivos sin prejuicios. Exigimos justicia para todas las victimas de feminicidios, violaciones, y abusos de cualquier tipo. Exigimos espacios para niñas y mujeres que hayan vivido diferentes situaciones.
Nosotras nos comprometemos a compartir nuestra historia y empoderar a más niñas y adolescentes para tener una vida libre y plena. Juntas queremos hacer un mundo mejor y nos guastaría que tú seas parte.”
“San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. October 12, 2019.
We are girls and adolescents fighting to transform the world. We come from different organizations, like Melel Xojobal, Código F, Niñas y niños alegres de Merposur, Telesecundaria Amado Nervo, Telesecundaria Pablo Neruda, Niñas y niños trabajadores, tejedores y artesanos de Santo Domingo, Sueniños, Vientos Culturales, Kolem Kontantik, and Tseb Pepen. We met on the 12th and 13th of October 2019 at Codimuj to talk about the situations that girls, adolescents, and women are currently facing. We also told stories, danced, performed skits, played games, reflected, and discussed the distinct situations in which we find ourselves. We talked about the things that make us happy and sad, and also about our fears and our dreams. We realized that despite our different ages, there are similarities in our feelings.
The world is changing, but it seems that the problems and injustices that face girls and women are more serious now than ever.
We demand to be able to go out in the streets without fear that something will happen to us, or that we’ll be victims of some type of violence. We demand to live freely, and to live in communities where our opinions are taken into account, and to be treated as deserving of our human rights. We demand to be able to act and express ourselves in whichever way we want. We demand an inclusive education that covers sexual and reproductive health information without prejudice. We demand justice for all the victims of femicide, rape, and abuse of any kind. We demand spaces for girls and women that have lived through different situations and in different ways.
We commit to sharing our stories and empowering more girls and adolescents to live free and full lives. Together we want to create a better world, and we would like for you to join us.”
Abby Fate serves with Melel Xojobal, Mexico. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, and your special gifts.