Radio Internacional Feminista - FIRE


X Encuentro Feminista Latinoamericano y del Caribe

São Paulo,  Brasil, Octubre 2005


Sierra Negra, October 10, 2005
Ana María Pizarro
Movimiento Autonomo de Mujeres/ Si Mujer, Nicaragua

Radicalization of feminism, radicalization of democracy

With that central theme, the Tenth Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentro began its debates this morning in Sierra Negra, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

The Hotel Vale do Sol, an immense tourist complex, has hosted the more than 1,250 feminists from 26 countries in the region and some from the United States and Europe. Brazilians from all social and feminist movements amount to 720 participants, followed by 90 feminists that come from Chile, Nicaragua and México. Other in smaller amounts comes from Central and South America and the Caribbean islands, such as Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominica Republic. 

During the first day of the event a panel entitled “Feminism and Democracy” addressed the main challenges regarding the central topic of the event. All three panelists were afro-descendent feminists.

Ochy Curiel, from the Dominican Republic, stated that formal democracy has not made a contribution to the elimination of the main inequalities and discriminations in the region; democracy is liberal and it is patriarchal, it is installed in the structures of power that are male, white and heterosexual. “It has not put end with the racism, sexism and heterosexism that dominates our societies.”  She also affirmed that the word “democracy” is an estranged concept that now forms part of the discourse of the World Bank and patriarchs in our countries.

Radicalism allows us to dream with a libertarian world in construction. Being black, mestiza, lesbian is not an issue of identity, they are political stances - we need to affirm our political, ideological and financial autonomy, and we need to join each other beyond frontiers in light of globalization. “That is the main challenge of feminism.”  

Curiel called on all feminists to challenge patriarchy from the margins, to challenge marriage and the nuclear family, to stop believing in the States and in political parties. “Feminism is a political movement, a category that joins us together. We should highlight our feminist ethics, creativity, autonomous organization, and to walk on our own feet, not the steps of the United Nations Conferences”.   

María Betania Avila from the host country warned that her analysis was going to combine the tension between joy and anguish. “If we define democracy as it was originally defined, as the government and the power of the people, we see that peoples have never governed, and that women were never considered part of the power of the people.” She explained how politics has been a male space over women in the private sphere. “Feminism denounces the confrontation between public liberty and private oppression because feminism is political action and critical thinking; for feminist theory, the construction of the political subject is crucial.”  

Radical feminism is a form of organizations that challenges the contradictions that women face in daily life: access by women to spaces of struggle is crucial in order to deconstruct the division between the public and private and to challenge the mercantilization of our bodies and the canalization (entertainment) of sexual exploitation, the industry that produces crazy forms of alienation, while religious and fundamentalist institutions speak of supposed principles. 

Racism, homophobia, and the poverty of our indigenous peoples persists throughout our history though the domination of Church and State. Women’s disproportionate impoverishment has to be a feminist issue, otherwise feminism cannot be radicalized.
Land ownership and the right to control our bodies have to be faced in the same perspective. Millions of women are raped by the by those that call themselves their “partners”, on a daily basis. 

We have to ask: What is the form of democracy we want: representative, participatory, direct? “We have to recognize all daily forms of struggle that women are undertaking in institutions, in their communities, as we strengthen the women’s movement in direct relationship with feminism. But we also have to challenge in ourselves the authoritarian traditional ways of doing politics.  Radical democracy demands the recognitions of conflict and new political culture within the construction of autonomy within and outside of the movement in every space that we take part in.

Ávila called on all feminists to socialize knowledge, to develop critical awareness, to take part in political training and to share experiences. She also called for the construction of a critical internationalism that can challenge fundamentalisms and militarism.


Form ore information about the Encuentro, go to:
This article, originally in Spanish, was translated by FIRE, Feminist International Radio Endeavour to share with the Women´s Media Pool.