By PT Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, we have identified a general regression in our country’s women’s movement as a result of a decrease in the international movement for the struggle for women’s rights. This is also due to the defeat of the PAC (Partido de Acción Ciudadana, Citizens’ Action Party) and progressivism in general in the previous electoral process, which can be combined with a general segregation of the women’s movement in the country, since the leftist organizations and feminist collectives that had grown in the previous period have shrunk.
With Rodrigo Chaves’s rise to power, the women’s movement generally is on the defensive. Chaves has entered into agreement with the churches and conservative sectors to attack the technical standard for therapeutic abortion. The legitimization of violence against women has also been seen in the figure of the president himself, in the form of a speech defending his performance at the World Bank, even making the presidency of INAMU (National Women’s Institute, “Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres”) defend him against public accusations.
Not only does the government have no concrete policy to guarantee women access to decent jobs, but it also promotes laws such as the 4-13 Workday Law (increasing to 13-hour workdays, 4 days a week) that places women workers with caregiving duties in a vulnerable situation and at risk of possible job loss. Furthermore, the government has enacted a public employment law with a regulation that affects public workers, also freezing their salaries.
The government also denies land access to peasant and indigenous women, while attacking migrants who come to the country to seek refuge from poverty and dictatorships in the region.
Tens of thousands of women have been thrown into poverty and unemployment. This has also generated a very significant increase in cases of violence against women and femicides, with a generalized increase in domestic violence and sexual assaults.
Meanwhile, a greater number of women have been killed in confrontations between drug gangs, who have used women as cannon fodder in drug trafficking and territorial disputes.
Slow economic recovery places working-class women in a desperate situation of unemployment as they suffer a huge setback in their participation in the labor market. Many are forced to retreat to care work and unemployment, while hundreds of thousands of others are forced to endure conditions of casual employment and labor precarity.
At the same time, the previous year’s increase in inflation had a much greater impact on women, who on average receive much lower salaries than men. This situation is even worse for young women and immigrants.
Young women have also seen their living conditions greatly affected, not only facing a high degree of violence in public and private spaces, but also at the economic level. Capitalism places them into the sectors that suffer the most from unemployment and job insecurity, while the educational system suffers a lack of funding that prevents them from accessing public universities. In many cases, young women do not even finish high school.
In January 2023, unemployment affected 25.2% of men and 39.6% of women under the age of 25.
For its part, the legislature has proposed bills that go against women’s right to autonomy over their own bodies. Typically this is done by placing legal barriers against the possibility of accessing even therapeutic abortion, such as Bill 21.239, Law on the Rights of Human Beings in Gestation. At the end of January, 35 deputies gave the bill a four-year term on the agenda, a project promoted by the churches and sectors of anti-abortion doctors. Another case is the project of Deputy Johana Obando of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on the possibility of carrying out adoptions from the maternal womb, which opens the door even to the legalization of surrogate wombs.
Even though Rodrigo Chaves’s government has enormous popular support, this 8M, we must endeavor to explain why the current state is an enemy of poor and working women, and that we have many reasons to confront the government.
But also, we must be forceful in discussing the need to organize women and men of the working class to confront the government that attacks the living conditions of our class to guarantee the wealth of big businessmen – the same system that guarantees exploitation and misery for the majority.
We must establish the need to organize the struggle in the work place, like the women of Dos Pinos and Selime, as well as the struggle for land and housing, like the peasant women of the Alianza and the indigenous reclamations. These efforts are only the beginning: we need to organize the revolutionary party to organize the struggle for socialist revolution as the only alternative, in order to guarantee respect for the dignity of working-class women and put an end to poverty, unemployment and violence.