Thousands stay at home in Mexico to protest against violence against women

On Calle 53, a homeowner promotes the planting of more trees in the Centro. Photo Imagine Merida

Thousands of women across Mexico have stayed home from work and school as part of a strike billed as “A Day Without Women”, hours after an unprecedented number filled the streets to protest against rising gender violence on International Women’s Day.

Central streets in the capital were eerily empty of women and girls throughout the day. Mostly men could be seen walking to offices, getting off buses or lining up to buy coffee.

Some metro ticket stations were closed, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s morning press conference was dotted with empty seats as female journalists joined the strike.

The idea was to become invisible for a day so that co-workers, bosses, boyfriends, husbands and in some cases children reflect on the absence of each participating woman.

Mexico International Women’s Day Strike
A line of red shoes representing murdered women (Fernando Llano/AP)

The back-to-back protests mark an intensification of the struggle by Mexican women against violence and impunity in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for females.

Women in Argentina and Chile have staged strikes in previous years and did so again on Monday.

Some women could be seen jogging or working at taco stands, coffee shops or other jobs in Mexico City. At a central junction, a female traffic officer waved cars through, but overall, the relative absence of women in public spaces was striking.

Government data says 3,825 women met violent deaths last year, 7% more than in 2018. That works out to about 10 women each day. Thousands more have gone missing without a trace in recent years.

Authorities seem incapable of preventing or properly investigating the crimes, very few of which result in convictions.

“In Mexico it’s like we’re in a state of war; we’re in a humanitarian crisis because of the quantity of women that have disappeared or been killed,” said Maria de la Luz Estrada, co-ordinator of the National Citizen’s Observatory of Femicide.

Associated Press