The electoral result that gave a resounding victory to the libertarian candidate shook feminisms as well as other social movements in the country. The consequences of an anti-rights agenda on the lives of women and diversities already arouse concern and fear of a possible setback in rights gained. The elimination of the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity – as Javier Milei promised during his campaign, in a video that went viral in August – and the intention to “build majorities” to repeal the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy law , as announced on Sunday in the LLA bunker by political scientist Agustín Laje, one of the leading ideologists of the extreme right in the country and a fervent opponent of the IVE, the rights of sexual minorities and feminisms – in line with the position of the vice president-elect, Victoria Villarruel–, may be just the tip of an iceberg that promises to go for other conquests. Page 12 consulted different voices of feminism to analyze the result of the runoff and the future scenario.
“They have already announced that the measures are going to be drastic and shocking, so economically, labor-wise and socially, what is coming is very hard. But in the rights achieved by women and diversity groups, it will not be so easy for them to go back, because in addition to popular, social organization and capacity for mobilization, we also have government spaces, such as the province of Buenos Aires. Aires, where there is a strong commitment from Governor Axel Kicillof with the present State and with this agenda. So, we are grieving what happened, obviously it is a very strong, very hard blow, but we have already recovered from electoral defeats,” Estela Díaz, Minister of Women, Gender Policies and Sexual Diversity of Buenos Aires, told this newspaper. Díaz raised the need to “gather forces, reflection, space, militancy” to “recover the areas of participation, especially those that dialogue more in each neighborhood, in each work space, in the different places.” “These people, and particularly women, know of resistance, of times, of hopes, of defense of conquered rights, and we will have all the strength to face the time to come,” she concluded.
Feminist historian Dora Barrancos warned that the closure of the MMGYD “will have international repercussions.” “It is not possible now to answer why this electoral result occurred. What seems more appropriate is to ask how a large number of people voted against their own interests. Native peoples voted for them even when Villarruel got tired of saying that he is going to repeal the law protecting aboriginal domain. I think there was a magnetization effect, of a certain spell,” she assessed.
“At the level of human rights, women’s rights and diversities, the question is enormous,” said Mariela Belsky, executive director of Amnesty International-Argentina. Without a doubt, one of the policies that raises a question mark is Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE). Milei’s electoral platform proposed eliminating its obligation, although it is contemplated in a law passed by Congress in 2006. For several years, some sectors have sought to establish that the ESI is ‘ideological’, as Laje has been proclaiming in his interventions at the regional and national level. international and the libertarian candidate has repeated it. However, Belsky pointed out, “there is evidence” that after accessing the contents of the ESI, children and adolescents were able to identify and report cases of child sexual abuse in various parts of the country such as Santa Fe, Rio Negro and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, among other of its positive aspects.
The abortion law
“From the space of La Libertad Avanza they have also demonstrated against legal abortion, a law for which not only Amnesty International has campaigned, but after its approval it has left some positive variables that are worth paying attention to. Since the enactment of the abortion law, the public health system has guaranteed 170,151 voluntary and legal interruptions of pregnancy throughout the country and maternal deaths due to abortion decreased from 23 in 2020 to 13 in 2021. The goal is that maternal mortality due to abortion is zero, which is why it is necessary to continue expanding the health teams that guarantee the practice,” Belsky added.
At the moment it has not been announced that the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity will be reabsorbed by any other portfolio. Her disappearance will occur days after the commemoration of an emblematic date on the human rights calendar: the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on November 25. “Women continue to die at the hands of partners and ex-partners – in 2022, a femicide was recorded every 35 hours and 76 percent of the 252 deaths occurred in contexts of domestic violence – and at least 17 percent of victims had made formal complaints,” Belsky warned.
Most of the MMGYD budget was allocated to the Acompañar Program, aimed at strengthening the economic independence of women and LGBTI+ in situations of gender violence: until November of this year, more than 100,853,242,000 pesos had been invested – according to data official– for 352,385 beneficiaries of Acompañar, which provides a subsidy for six months.
“At Amnesty International we will not only be alert to defend the rights already achieved, but these electoral results call us to a deep reflection regarding listening to social demands. It is time to make a self-criticism to analyze why the gender and diversity agenda has not managed to permeate many of the people whom these policies should embrace and include,” Belsky concluded.
The feminist lawyer from Mujeres x Mujeres, from Tucumán, Soledad Deza, considered that “it is time to think within society why a horizon without rights won millions of votes, it seems to me that when there is so much poverty and people have no solutions , it is easier to accept cruel scenarios or let yourself be charmed by snakes. Something failed, it is time to reorganize our feminisms.”
“Equal marriage, gender identity, sexual health, the right to abortion, equal pay, for example, are all human rights that Argentina has committed to guarantee. Regression is not possible with respect to these rights. However, the LLA campaign especially promised gender inequality and I estimate that they will try to reverse these laws in Congress, although I do not believe that their political alliances will allow them to do so. In the middle of the laws and the rights of the people are public policies, there I believe they will seek to defund any possibility of sexual sovereignty and we will be resisting because they want us subjugated, poor and in debt. How can we think about sexual and reproductive freedom in an egalitarian and fair way without a Ministry of Health that ensures supplies?” Deza asked.
Ruth Zurbriggen, from the La Revuelta collective, from Neuquén, acknowledged her perplexity at Milei’s triumph. “I feel like we’re in some kind of dystopian world that lacks words,” she described. “For feminisms, nothing was ever easy. We know that very well. However, I am certain that our lives are going to become extremely complicated. Not only to feminisms and transfeminisms, but to broad layers of society, those who are already having a very bad time economically. Because the recipes they bring from LLA we already lived in Argentina and now they double their bets and perfect their machines of hate, cruelty and contempt,” she analyzed. And he added: “Reducing the presence of the State to its minimum expression will have immediate consequences on those of us who most use State services such as public health and education, service subsidies, and access to housing. The sustainability of life with everything privatized is going to be much more difficult. Taking care of children and the elderly will require more time and more work.”