2nd National Encounter of Movement Women in Struggle (MML) gathers over a thousand working class’ and young women
Several different categories in struggle throughout the country were present
“Building a path of resistance and struggle of the working class women against oppression and exploitation!“. That was the sign of the 2nd National Encounter of the MML, which took place on April 21 and 22, in São Paulo, Brazil. It was two days of intense political debate and exchange of important experiences to strengthen working and young women.
An encounter highlighted by the struggles and challenges of several segments, with a spotlight on the presence of the most exploited and oppressed sectors of the working class and on the necessity to advance even more in the organization of women, to unify the struggles of industrial women with the ones from urban and rural occupied territories, retired, students, black women, trans women, lesbians, indigenous women, and all suffering categories in struggle in the country.
To build the encounter, women from several regions met, discussed politics, made financial activities such as yard sales, asking for donations on traffic lights and parties – all to guarantee the financial independence of the event and to send their delegations. This way, they strengthened the rank-and-file work in their categories to continue a classist struggle against male-chauvinism. They filled up the Metro Workers Union, the location of the encounter, in São Paulo, and they were divided into groups, debating 19 different topics.
The political participation of working women was also guaranteed in the event with a day-care available for the children of the ones who could not leave their kids at home.
The opening debate, on Saturday, brought an important discussion to the plenary about the general political scenario, “Economic crisis and the development of male-chauvinism and all forms of oppression: the challenges and tasks of the women’s movement in the face of the political situation in Brazil and the world“. The discussion was set by the comrades Marcela Azevedo, member of the MML’s Executive, and Dayse Oliveira, black movement and education activist in Rio de Janeiro. There was time for interventions, and afterward, women had lunch and took part in the Work Groups (GTs), where they could have more specific debates about a number of topics.
On Sunday, there was a debate about rank-and-file work, and right after, it was the voting of the resolutions written in the Work Groups, and the announcement of the names that are now members of the new Executive Leadership of the MML, all approved by the plenary.
There were also many cultural presentations throughout the event, with poetic performances and thematic activities that wrapped-up the event.
Women’s place is in the struggle, with race and class!
There were many times in history that working women gathered to face the economic, political, social and cultural problems of their times. Women’s lives under capitalism demand this organization at all times, and the new reality of the struggles brings out the importance of collectively facing the day-by-day problems on our work and study places. The 2nd Encounter of the MML came from that necessity and it exposed the great challenges ahead, but also showed how women’s disposition and courage are even greater.
Driven by the necessity of fighting against the extermination of quilombola communities (historical places of black resistance against slavery and racism) that already have no rights, Zilmar Pinto Mendes, leadership of the Maranhão Quilombola Movement (Moquibom), was present in the 2nd MML Encounter: “Our flag in struggle is free territory and living quality, which means housing, water, health, education. But the governments deny all of our rights and have been exterminating the quilombola communities,” explains Zilmar, who highlighted, when telling about the attacks from governments, farmers and gunmen, female protagonism in the struggle and the importance of organizing to confront the enemies of the quilombola people: “We, quilombola women, indigenous women, and all working women, have to be united and fight to defend our territory and our rights”.
The situation of working women in Brazil was never easy. Especially for black women, who occupy the most precarious and rotating sectors in the market, in addition to suffering the nefarious combination of male-chauvinism and racism.
Even with a woman in the presidential office, the official statistics for domestic violence, deaths by clandestine abortions, unequal wage in the same jobs, unemployment, and precarious jobs did not reduce. All of it developed even further with the economic crisis and the governments’ solutions, now with a man as the leader, trying at all costs to make the workers carry the weight of maintaining the profits of bankers and businessmen. The economic, political and social situation of the country was a central topic in the encounter, not only during the opening debate and interventions but also in the Work Groups.
First time participant, Lucimara de Souza, outsourced worker in the cleaning department of the post office in Porto Alegre, came with her two-year-old daughter, interested in knowing how to organize and show her friends a way to face the degrading situation of the outsourced sector and the sexist violence they go through in their workplace: “I came to get to know the movement and I will engage in the struggle. I have already shared through SMS with my colleagues from Porto Alegre and my family everything that I saw here, and I will tell them all about it when I get back“.
Indigenous women were also present in the encounter to debate their organization to fight the violence they suffer. They live under precarious living conditions and, unfortunately, share the same perverse combination of exploitation and oppression that falls on black women. They were transformed into “folkloric figures” and many are exploited by tourism and prostitution industries, with no access to health, education or justice.
Laura came as a representative of the Guarani inhabitants of the indigenous territory Morro dos Cavalos, in Palhoça, 30 kilometers away from Florianópolis. In her opinion, it is important to highlight the way that women from the village face the attacks they suffer: “We came here to show everything we go through and that the Guarani women are fighters, warriors“.
A homage to the comrade Maria Aurora, a dedicated militant of PSTU in Natal, who was one more fatal victim of transphobia, touched the participants. A video with her and Marielle, both killed for expressing their struggles, brought silence to the place, which soon after heard the shouts of several trans women, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals, from the back of the room towards the stage: “I did not get out: I exploded the closet. I’m LGBT, I’m revolutionary!”.
The debates on LGBTphobia and gender identity were highly present throughout the encounter and along the interventions. Cris Fenix highlights her pride in making part of the encounter: “I also participated of the 1st Encounter and I’m very happy to be here in the 2nd because I always thought that the women’s movement lacked something more. And that “something more” is brought here now by the MML along with the CSP-Conlutas. The debates and resolutions about us, trans women, give us a lot of strength to organize and fight against everything and everyone who attacks us“.
Women from the industrial sector were present in a high number, debating their demands and the necessity of an active participation in the category’s struggles for dignified working conditions and against sexist violence and harassment that they suffer.
10 years of MML
The Movement Women in Struggle completed 10 years of existence during the weekend of the Encounter. A history of many struggles and organization of working women in defense of their rights, fighting male-chauvinism and exploitation.
The PT government is included in the trajectory of the MML. It was a difficult moment when a large part of the working women’s movement believe that it was their government. Patiently, the comrades from our movement organized activities and debates in many places to explain that it was not enough to have a woman as president, because Dilma did not defend the interests of the working class women. The MML always denounced the low investments in policies against male-chauvinism and the insufficiency of the victims support network. The MML also carried a strong campaign against sexual tourism, harassment, groping in public transport, and it built, along with several categories, the women’s encounters, as well as female secretariats and departments inside unions.
During that time, the cases of domestic violence, rapes and feminicide increased, and also the inequality for women in the labor market and in the society, as a reflection of the economic crisis’ development.
Nevertheless, women showed all their bravery and strength and did not hesitate to fight in defense of their lives, their jobs, their rights. And they are still fulfilling an important role in the working class’ struggle, facing the attacks and reforms of the Temer government, as well as the projects from the conservative wing of the Congress attacking democratic rights, like through the criminalization of abortion.
A women’s movement that is stronger every day
Considering the current economic and political scenery, contributing to the organization of working-class women to advance in the struggle for living conditions, rights, and against the offensive of governments and employers, as well as to fight against capitalism and male-chauvinism, is essential to every political organization that claims to be left-wing. Therefore, the organizations present in the Encounter played an important role in their areas of militancy in making it possible for those working women to make part of the event.
The Movimento Luta Socialista (Socialist Struggle Movement), a political organization from Rio Grande do Sul, was present, after the recent announcement that they are joining the MML, already showing important results in the strengthening of such struggle. The organization broke with the CUT (Unified Workers Central) a few years ago and joined the CSP-Conlutas, and now takes part in the construction of a classist fight against male-chauvinism and exploitation.
Also, the Angela Davis Collective, from Rio Grande, was present making the encounter more black, contributing to the debates and strengthening the struggle of black women.
The Movement Women in Struggle is strengthened by the entrance of new comrades, and it consolidates as an alternative of organization for working women.