In the face of deepening inequality, militarization, and conservative backlash, with hard-won gains being reversed, women’s human rights movements find themselves needing to innovate their strategies and actions. Women’s linking and organizing initiatives are critical not only as a means of building consensus, but also as a way of preserving and sustaining the women’s movements themselves.
Women’s gatherings, such as the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros, offer opportunities for the collective action needed to address the root causes of oppression, discrimination and violence against women. For many years, Global Fund for Women has provided significant support for these inter-regional and cross-region meetings.
More Than an Event
The Latin American Encuentros, as well as the national Encuentros, are spaces where women exchange ideas, discuss strategies, agree on common understandings of the issues they are trying to address and declare their political commitments to a wide gamut of social justice struggles. More than mere events in the life of the movement, the Encuentros foster processes of both solidarity and contention among the region’s feminists.
They constitute a sort of supranational platform where key issues confronting Latin American and Caribbean feminisms can be staged, debated and formulated. Among the most contentious axes of discussion have been: the autonomy of the movement, the diversity and inequality among women and among feminists, democracy and women’s political empowerment, globalization and feminization of poverty, and the impact of militarization on women, among others.
Standing on a Strong Foundation
Since the beginning of the 1980s, feminists and women’s rights activists have built networks of advocacy and activism, constructing regional identities and forms of solidarity through the Feminist Encuentros. These events have taken place about every two years since the First Encuentro was convened in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1981.
This past XII Feminist Encuentro was particularly crucial to the growth and sustainability of the Latin American and Caribbean feminist movement as a whole. The main goal of the XII Encuentro was to promote interaction among different women’s movements—dialogue, reflection and exchange—contributing to the construction of the women’s movements political agenda in the region.By Erika Guevara-Rosas, Program Director for the Americas.