of Solidarity with the Women of Oaxaca
As women Nobel Laureates, we express our firm solidarity with the
women of Oaxaca as they are joined by hundreds of women who have traveled
from across Mexico and the world for a Gathering of Women in Resistance
(April 26-28). They gather against the threat of violence and with the
silent support of many Mexicans concerned about the state of their country
to boldly speak out against state-sponsored repression in their city and
affirm their collective commitment to democracy, gender equality and
Following months of massive protests in late 2006 for the ouster of
Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Governor of the state of Oaxaca—protests often
accompanied by extreme police violence and state repression—Oaxaca is
now largely absent from international media coverage.
Yet we know that the struggle for open, transparent democracy and
human rights persists; as do the concerns about continued budget cuts to
education and basic services and increasing poverty that initially drove
thousands of Mexican women and men to the streets late last year. After
refusing to meet with members of the teachers union or respond to their
demands, Ulises Ruiz sent in state riot police on June 14, 2006, resulting
in scores of injuries. Thousands took to the streets to support the
protestors. Women were actively organizing over the following months,
culminating in a women-only Pots and Pans March on August 1, 2006. That
march concluded with a take-over by women of the state-owned television
station, Channel 9. Frustrated with the lack of accurate media coverage of
the June protests and ensuing state repression, the women were able to go
on the air—radio and television—to tell their story. We are inspired
by women’s courageous and powerful role in the growing citizen
mobilization for democracy and wellbeing.
We express grave concern for the response by the Mexican government
to the peaceful actions and demands expressed by its citizens,
particularly in light of the highly contested presidential elections,
which mobilized millions of Mexicans in the streets to demand fair and
transparent vote counting. A widely-reported deepening culture of
corruption and impunity among public officials threatens the fragile
democracy of this important country.
We find these trends particularly worrisome in a context where forms
of violence against women are growing more crude, extreme and pervasive.
Violence that was, at one time, seemingly a series of isolated, sensationalized incidents, is now becoming so
common place as to be labeled femicide.
Such widespread and systematic murder of women is not just in
Ciudad Juarez, but in other parts of Mexico and other countries of the
The repression against women in Oaxaca was on the heels of the
violence perpetrated against women of the community San Salvador Atenco.
There, 190 people (43 of them women) were detained by the police following
a conflict between local flower vendors and municipal authorities in a
nearby community. Detainees faced severe beatings from police, however the
women were specifically targeted for rape, and other forms of sexual
assault and threats.
We renounce violence—in particular violence that targets women as
women. We want to hold up the everyday actions that women take to lead
their lives with dignity and security, and to help ensure that their
rights and the rights of their communities are respected and upheld. We
recognize and stand with the women activists who suffer threats and
persecution for their work to build a more just and equitable society.
We are inspired by the extraordinary levels of organization and
leadership among Mexican women who have come together to support their
Oaxacan sisters in a painful struggle.
We applaud the important victories of our Mexican sisters in our
collective efforts for peace and against private and public violence. We
also congratulate our sisters on the recent legislative victories:
December 19th, 2006 was the passage of the General
Law of Access by Women to a Life Free of Violence, and on April 24th
of a critical change to the Criminal Code of Mexico City that disallows
the prosectution of women who have an abortion during the first 12 weeks
of pregnancy. These advances are the product of their collective
commitment and courageous mobilization.
When across the Americas, we have seen severe setbacks for
women’s rights, their persistence and their achievements give us hope
and energy to continue our own struggles.
We stand with you today.
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