Radio Internacional Feminista

ABRIL 2007

Nobel Women’s Initiative:

Statement of Solidarity with the Women of Oaxaca  


April 27, 2007


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 peace.


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 region.


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.


Nobel Women's Initiative
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