The XXXIII Women's National Meeting in Argentina

25 images Created 18 Sep 2019

Since 1986, the Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres (National Women's Meeting - ENM) is an event that gathers tens of thousands of women from all over the country once a year, in revolving cities. With a growing number of 50,000 women and non-binary identities attending yearly, the ENM has become a major event for feminists living in Argentina. The historical context of how these meetings came to be is broadly recognized first in the United Nation World Conference on Women which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985, despite the many Latin American and Caribbean Feminist “Encuentros” that were organized in different Latin American cities since 1981 (Alma and Lorenzo, Mujeres que se encuentran, 2009). Nevertheless, the idea of women-only meetings arose earlier: it emerged during the late 1960s in the United States with links to the second wave feminist movement, giving birth to the Consciousness Raising (CR) groups. Consciousness-raising was born as a mass-organizing tool for the liberation of women at that time, in that it exposed the reality and diversity of women’s experiences and lives. As it was said in a 1975 text from the Women’s Action Alliance: “These groups should not be thought of as therapy or encounter sessions, but as forums for mutual self-discovery. In them, away from the influences of home, work or traditional social settings, we have found ourselves freer than ever to explore our roles and our lives.” Due to the weight given to women’s voices, CR groups were adopted by several movements during the 1980s and has turned into a crucial element in the consolidation of the ENM as a national event.
The ENM takes the form of a three-day meeting with more than 60 thematic workshops, cultural activities taking place in public squares, as well as a final demonstration that goes through the city and covers around 5 kilometers. Every year, a group of women and non-binary identities compose what is known as the Comisión Organizadora (organizing committee), some of them belonging to political parties or grassroot organizations, while others join as individuals and without institutional representation. The Comisión Organizadora undertakes everything needed for the event to happen: to list a few, they make the necessary agreements with local authorities, obtain permissions to use public spaces such as parks and schools, manage the online and on-site registrations, as well as organize social media announcements and publications in regional and national newspapers. The Comisión Organizadora changes every year because the meetings never happen in the same place. Indeed this decision of changing cities is of accessibility: it presents the opportunity for women from different cities to not only host the event, but also make localized struggles visible. The cities are also chosen in recognition of the political and social issues that have been important for the country in the former year.
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