With the participation of top government authorities in the matter, of organisations and agencies of the United Nations and feminist activists, this conference has been a key context to visibilize and define the upcoming gender policies in the region.
Between November 7 and 11, Buenos Aires received the Summit focused in the gender agenda of the region. Organised by ECLA with the support of UN Women and other organisations, its axis was “The Society of Care: a Horizon for a Sustainable Recovery with Gender Equality.”
The Regional Conference was the action environment where diverse forms of feminist activism joined with the common goa lof working and promoting the rights of women.
María Noel Vaeza, regional director of America and the Caribbean of UN Women, insisted in turning the caring activities into a “fundamental right,” and ending with the harrassment and the forms of gender-based violence mainly in political contexts because it is “fundamental that women be able to represent, make decisions and contribute to change reality throught politics.”
According to ECLA figures, in the region women devote a 19.6% of their time to domestic chores and caring tasks for which they receive no payment, while men barely devote a 7.3%. Hence, women devote thrice this number to such work.
The right to caring as a human right
The day previous to the 15th ECLA Conference, the Feminist Forum was held at the Espacio de la Memoria (House of Memory) ex ESMA (Buenos Aires), to which more than two thousand activists and members of the community of the region attended, in addition to government officials and intergovernmental organisations. This is an “environment for the colective, plural and regional building” that is celebrated since 1977 as an opening evento for the Regional Conference of the Latin America and the Caribbean Women.
Since this is the regional intergovernmental forum of the UN for the region on women’s rights and gender equality, the local representatives of Guatemala, Colombia, Peru and Argentina of the Ecumenic Forum ACT South America (FESUR in Spanish) and the Gender Justice Practice Community (Gender COP) were present and actively participated.
In the work agenda of the FESUR there is the need for strengthening democracies and human rights of vulnerable sectors and communities such as women, adolescent and female children of the region, among both civilians and believers.
“Without feminism and feminist activism , forms of democracy with civic participation and human rights for women and diverse communities will not be possible,” said Pilar Cancelo, Argentine representative of FESUR and Gender COP. In her participation of the conference, she discussed the importance of a society with an economy in which the caring tasks involve payment, are more just and equal. “As christian feminists we participate in this conference to join the voices of civilians to require the Governments of our region and our countries more and better democracy from our forms of feminism.”
Denisse Chávez, representative of ACT Forum Peru Alliance highlighted the importance of being part of such diverse and rich environment because “it allows us from Gender COP to collect the materials generated from young girls’, women’s and ECLA’S itself statements, and add them to our gender justice agenda, giving the subject of caring tasks the priority it needs.”
Pamela Liquez, Guatemala Gender COP representative said that “the Conference is an environment that helps us review and look into our churches and faith-based organisations to work and achieve a better gender-based justice.” “With our christian point of view, we can reach the civil community and share it,” she says finally.
For FESUR, it is of vital importance to work with clear actions in the contexts where the increasing religious, politic and economic forms of fundamentalism attack the rights of the most vulnerable social groups. This is why “sharing the knowledge of feminist movements and christian forms of feminism of the region is so important, since the religious forms of fundamentalism are one of the reasons why women assume the caring tasks,” states Claudia Gómez, Colombia FESUR representative; “because these roles are neutralized in society through religion,” she says finally.
The ECLA Conference has been an environment where women of the region established their strength to go forward together towards equality, autonomy and turning the rights of the population into a reality. A fairer society cannot be created if team work with all social and faith-based sectors of the region is nonexistent.