If you pay attention to Mexico, and unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the women’s movement has grown dramatically in visibility and influence over the past year. They are having an impact.
To protest violence against women, last week the movement put tens of thousands (at least) in the streets one day and on strike another, forcing the media, government, and the economic sector to pay attention.
Mexican social movement protesters get high marks for turnout and creativity. This round included “a day without women” strike, chants that included dance moves and the names of 1,000 femicide victims painted in the central square. The last reminded me of the AIDS quilts of the 1980’s – striking a chord too personal to ignore.
Creativity is key because that’s what makes the message stick. And the message was clear. Women have had it with the violence that impacts our daily lives.
These protests made me stop and think about how violence against women is normalized, and how we structure our days to avoid violence directed toward us. Not random violence, but violent acts committed against us because we are women.
It is engrained in us from youth to consider: when we go out, where we go, what we wear, whether we consume alcohol, if we take a cab instead of walk, and so forth. We live trying not to get hurt. And the unspoken message is that if we are irresponsible with our surroundings or behavior, being abused will be our own fault.
I thank and herald the women of Mexico who made me stop and think about the insidiousness and flagrancy of violence against women.
They gave us two days of creative action. Now it is our job to work every day to recognize the ways we limit ourselves, and to work harder for justice for those killed because they are women and because men can unleash violence against us without consequence.
* Joy Olson is the former Executive Director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a research and advocacy organization working to advance human rights. Twitter: @JoyLeeOlson