Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s date, March 8th, always serves as a day of reflection. For on this day, around the world, millions of women celebrate and remember the beauty and challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated world in which they are consistently forced into second class citizenship. But even so, every day, every month and every year, women everywhere push back and stand up and demand the right to simply be a woman in the world where, so long ago a black woman brought life into the world. Yes, all women in this world face challenges but these challenges are infinitely more for women whose faces, hair, skin color and unique body shapes signal that they have closer ties to that African woman than other women of the world. Let us all remember this, March 8th, 2015: International Women’s Day!
“How are we, Black Women, on International Women’s Day?”
Courtesy of the 2015 Marcha das Mulheres Negras
The story of March 8 started the struggle of women workers for better working conditions and reduction of working hours in 1857. The workers of a textile factory in New York marched for the reduction of shifts, salary increase and rest on Sunday. Due to police repression, they took refuge in a factory, where they were locked up by the boss and the police, who fired on the property, leading to death all the women who were there, on strike, fighting for their rights.
“In the Second International Conference on Women held in 1910, Clara Zetkin, socialist and revolutionary militant, proposed that March 8 was considered as International Women’s Day, so that the story of these American workers would not be forgotten and that the women continued such a necessary fight.”
In fact, many achievements attributed to women, are the result of the struggle for “autonomy and equality.” Young women, adult, elderly, black, non-black, indigenous, professionals, civil servants, housewives, politicians, women from all segments of Brazilian society and the world are committed to contributing to the strengthening of women’s citizenship and guaranteeing their rights in health, safety, labor, housing, culture, education and politics, among other things.
The conquests already realized
One still requires a lot of commitment and awareness: the right to non-violence.
Violence against women is part of a problem that, necessarily, involves issues of gender equality. This is a subject of great complexity, depending on the cultural and ideological load contained therein. Culturally men and women learned that men were superior to women and therefore they should be obeyed and respected. Women lived under the domain of their fathers and then went to the domain of their husbands; if they were widows, the children fit the task of “taking care” of their mothers…
Many women still live under this male-domination, especially of their husbands and partners. Women submit themselves to the power of being male, not because they are superior, but because that’s how they learned to live. Changing this situation depends on broad social change that promotes equality, not to mention the differences between men and women, differences that cannot be remembered from the perspective of violence.
Two of the most significant public policies implemented in Brazil for addressing violence against women are the Delegacias da Mulher (Women’s Police Stations) and the the Maria da Penha Law. In Araranguá, the Delegacia da Mulher was established in 1989 and, despite those 24 years of operation, the Specialized Police (probably those of other municipalities as well), still struggles to meet their specific public: women victims of domestic violence, especially in function that the issue of violence requires multidisciplinary care that goes beyond the police practice of repression, but to promote change in relations between those involved in violence.
The Maria da Penha Law, in force since 2006, still requires a lot of debate and attention from the whole society to fulfill effectively its purpose to act to prevent violence, protect victims and punish perpetrators, avoiding the feeling of impunity and ensuring effectiveness in combating violence. This legal instrument is commonly “frowned upon” by men of all social classes, because, mistakenly, it’s understood as a law “against men”.
A woman goes through a triple journey: work, household chores and study.
Most women work in outsourcing companies, where their rights are not guaranteed and their salaries are very low. In addition to exploitation and salary differences to the man, they suffer deep moral and sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.
At the end of a hard day’s work, are required to take public transport, expensive and precarious, to come home and have to take care of family and do household chores, that both abuse and damage the physical or intellectual capacity of the working woman that only undermines the stay of students at the university.
The situation of black women in Brazil today manifests an extension of their reality lived in the period of slavery with few changes, as she remains in last place in the social scale and is one that carries most of the disadvantages of an unfair and racist system of the country. Numerous surveys conducted in recent years show that black woman have lower education levels, work more, but with lower income, and the few who can break through the barriers of prejudice and racial discrimination and upward social mobility are less likely to find companions on the marriage market.
Nowadays one cannot deal with the issue of race as a secondary element, only highlighting the economic problems. The social position of blacks is not based only on the possibility of acquisition or consumer goods. There is still a great difficulty of Brazilian society to taking on the race issue as a problem that needs to be faced, many studies confirm the difficulties involving being a black woman in Brazil. They earn less, are among the most suffering sexual and domestic violence, are more poorly treated in the public health service and are also the main victims of murder, as shown by the survey conducted by the IPEA. As long as this coping process does not occur, the social inequalities based on racial discrimination will continue, and with a tendency for intensification, especially when it comes to equal opportunities in all aspects of society.
Pay attention: one in four women who gave birth in public or private hospitals reported some type of aggression in childbirth. The data from the study “Mulheres brasileiras e gênero nos espaços público e privado” (Brazilian women and gender in public and private spaces), shows on a national scale the incidence of ill-treatment of pregnant women. Insults, refusal to offer any relief for pain, the conducting of painful, unrecommended and even sarcastic exams, screams and coarse treatments with discriminatory bias such as social class or skin color were identified as types of abuse suffered by those who gave birth in public and private hospitals.
Racial discrimination in the lives of black women is constant; nevertheless, many formed their own strategies to overcome the difficulties arising from this problem, as the Marcha das Mulheres Negras (march of black women) on day 18 of November, 2015 in Brasília.
“We are marching because we are the vast majority of those that raise our sons and daughters alone, the heads of families, with scarce resources and the sweat of our unique and exclusive work.”
We are in March:
- for the end of the genocide of black women and the visibility and security of our lives;
- for the investigation of all cases of domestic violence and murders of black women, with the penalty of the guilty;
- for the end of racism and sexism produced in the media promoting the symbolic and physical violence against black women;
- for the end of the racist and sexist criteria and practices in the workplace;
- for the end of the vexatious prison searches and summary aggression to black women in detention houses;
- for the guarantee of access to quality of health care for black women and the penalty of racial and sexual discrimination in public service medical attention;
- for the titling and guarantee of quilombos land, especially on behalf of black women as it is where we get our livelihood and we remain linked to ancestry;
- for the end of religious disrespect and guaranteeing the cultural reproduction of our ancestral practices of African origin;
- for our effective participation in public life.
We seek a process of a leading political role of black women in that our demands and issues have centrality in this country. Our point of arrival and beginning of a new walk is November 18, 2015 among the activities of the Month of Black Consciousness.
We call all black women, to join this organization process, in places where they are, and to integrate this March for our citizenship.
Imbued from our ancestral strength, our freedom of thought and political action, get up – in the five regions of the country – to construct the Marcha das Mulheres Negras contra o Racismo e a Violência e pelo Bem Viver (March of Black Women Against Racism and Violence and for Well-Being), for the right to live free from discrimination being guaranteed at all stages of our lives.
WE ARE ON THE MARCH!
“ONE GOES UP AND PULLS THE OTHER!”