2022 Plurinational Gathering in Argentina: A gathering Full of Diversity and Strength


16 December 2022

This past October, three colleagues from the UAF-LAC team traveled to San Luis, Argentina to accompany the Plurinational Gathering of Women, Lesbians, Trans, Travestis, Bisexuals, Intersex and Non-Binary People, a feminist social practice that has taken place annually in Argentina since 1986.

By attending the gathering as Urgent Action Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (UAF-LAC), we sought to better understand the needs and reflections of feminist movements and, at the same time, to broaden our panorama of the Argentinian context. We recognize that the feminist movement in Argentina has been at the forefront, especially in debates on sexual and reproductive rights. At the end of 2021, a “marea verde” green wave that began in Argentina engulfed the Latin America region and has not stopped since. We wanted to take the pulse of the movement and be inspired by that force – through active listening and a more personal view of those who fill these activisms with struggle, strength and life.

We seek to keep these reflections and everything we learned from this meeting alive as we support the struggles and demands of movements in the region.We want to better understand contexts across the region and strengthen our alliances so that organizations can respond in an organized and agile manner to the various crises they face in the current political context. We also accompany the security, protection and collective care strategies they implement, as well as the opportunities that defenders, activists and their movements have to advance their rights or avoid setbacks.

We wanted to deepen and hear the voices of those who contribute to the sustainability of the movement and are facing daily socio-environmental conflicts in Argentina and to accompany the defense and protection of the plurinational territory from an intersectional perspective, as well as the role of gender dissidents.

As a political commitment, we continue to recognize that we have a commitment to Sustainable Activism. Attending this gathering allowed us to hear how collective care is incorporated and experienced from the struggles and resistances of 130,000 Women, Lesbians, Trans, Travestis, Bisexuals, Intersex and Non-Binary People from a territory, that this gathering and we recognize as plurinational.

What did we experience?

The social and political crisis caused by Covid-19 stopped the gathering for a time, but after two years of not being able to hug each other, we were finally able to in 2022. "What a moment, what a moment, despite everything, we made the meeting happen” participants shouted in unison at the beginning of the gathering. After 36 years, the name of the gathering changed from the National Gathering of Women to the Plurinational Meeting of Women, Lesbians, Trans, Travestis, Bisexuals, Intersex and Non-Binary People in recognition of the struggles to name and put a face to what is usually invisible and should be named, together with indigenous women, lesbians, trans, travestis, intersex, bisexual and non-binary people. What an impressive achievement! Through their actions, the Argentineans teach us that trans people and the different identities beyond the borders that make up the territory cannot continue to be invisible, ever again.

We were deeply surprised by the level of organizing, the strength of the political discussions and the proposals, participation, self-management and convening power of the diversity of women and dissidents in the country. We let ourselves be carried away by its magic, by its power and the power in conspiring with others. We let ourselves be touched by the heartfelt stories and we vibrated to the sound of its drums and slogans. We saw the mixture of strength and tenderness in their fights, as well as the entropy in system of organizing, and no matter how intense and full of multiple actions at the same time, we saw the conviction of the importance of organizing and the diversity in the present struggle, and how this generated certainty of the paths to follow and melted into smiles, hugs and dances. Despite the challenges they face as a movement in the face of a capitalist, xenophobic and patriarchal system, they dream of feminisms free of racism and discrimination.

For us it was fundamental to feel the power of the feminist gathering and the multiplicity of options that arise from it. Each hug and complicit smile between participants were seeds of strength, unity and a forceful and loving lesson for us, for our work. We have no doubt that organizing, commitment, intergenerational exchange and dance are essential for the fight.

We share some collective reflections that emerged from this wonderful experience.

  1. The organizing capacity of the diversity of women and dissidents was impressive, as well as the horizontal self-management in the workshops. The discussions were carried out autonomously, some participants proposed to take notes or to be moderators, but they were offered freely and self-managed. It was a challenge for us to choose so few workshops from the more than 100 that were offered, but we did our best to be present consistently and at the same time rotate, divide and vary themes.
  2. The final result of the meeting is a series of conclusions that emanate from each one of the workshops, and that were read aloud at the end. These conclusions subsequently contribute to processes of advocacy, training and discussions that reach public opinion. It is living information.
  3. We started with the idea that Argentina has been a vanguard in current debates and we wanted to take the pulse. Well, we confirmed that it's real. They have a deep level of organization and reflection in thinking about feminisms and diversities within the framework of a patriarchal system that will not change. This gathering was a sample of the long road traveled by the diversity of organized women and dissidents in this country. Although the gathering has been held for 35 consecutive years, the organization of women's movements has fought for various causes for many more years, even in times of dictatorship.
  4. It is important to take into account that the gathering is a meeting space for the struggles of grassroots movements and Argentinean feminist organizations, as well as self-convened people. We perceived that the space is not occupied by large organizations, funds, or international agencies – this shows us a movement that proposes autonomy.
  5. Within the framework of the gathering, we were able to realize that art, culture and healing are not separate from the political, they are forms of living narratives that complement each other to give more power to their fight.
  6. We stress that the intergenerational aspect is key to the continuity of the movements and their strengthening. In this intergenerationally there are different levels and types of organizing. Dissidence is also given space and important recognition, which is highly valued.
  7. Abortion activism is very present and is a fundamental part of the feminist movement in Argentina. The strategy and articulation of this struggle arose in part from the organization of the women in these meetings. Since winning the decriminalization, they work with the objective that abortion be guaranteed in the territories.
  8. "Freedom, freedom to the machi for fighting" (in the group was the machi - ancestral authority - Betiana Colhuan). This was the urgent demand for the liberation of the Mapuche women violently detained a few days before the gathering. This was the message that resonated throughout the gathering and continues to echo today. Throughout the country there are multiple conflicts against monocultures, mining, livestock and against housing projects, tourism or land speculation, which continue to displace, violate and exterminate traditional towns, peasants and precarious populations. This is a reality throughout Argentina and was present at the gathering, with the presence of thousands of people and movements linked to territorial struggles.

Thus, the gathering now brings, as part of its name and its evocation, the perspective of Plurinationality, a political and practical commitment to incorporate others and other perspectives of nationalities at its center, in the face of colonization and appropriation of lands and cultures. The struggle of the Mapuche women was at the center of the gathering, as will it be in the next one and all those that follow.

Days before the gathering, seven Mapuche women were imprisoned and transferred to the capital for fighting for their territory. Far from their towns, some are still in prison and one woman who was pregnant gave birth while in prison. The Mapuches are an example of resistance and also an example of violence and disrespect for diversities and traditional peoples. We await the speedy release of the Mapuche women!

We hope to return to Argentina and to continue learning and sharing experiences with all those who live and resist there. You can find more information about the gathering and what happened there at this link.

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