We will not go back to normality, because normality was the problem: the global feminist and trans-feminist movement, confronted with this new global health, economic, food, and ecological crisis, will not surrender to isolation and will not silence its struggles in the face of the restrictive measures undertaken in our territories to deal with the coronavirus. All over the world, women and LGBTQI* people are refusing to submit to the multiple forms of violence that are exacerbated by the global pandemic and are beginning to organize by intertwining ourrebellious practices, empowered by the strength of the recent years of global feminist strikes.
This crisis reveals and intensifies the violence, the hierarchies, and the structural roots of oppression, exploitation, and inequality of the colonial capitalist patriarchy, against which we have always fought and will continue to fight. It is precisely in the tensions and fissures opened up by this crisis that the new forms of resistance and solidarity to which we belong are emerging. Those are forms of resistance that we want to join and want to make resonate at the global level through our collective voice, so that we can emerge together from isolation and undermine dominant paradigms by affirming feminist, trans-feminist and anti-patriarchal knowledge and practices.
The coronavirus affects all of us, but the effects of the pandemic are differentiated, especially if we look at it from a cross-border perspective, starting from our position as women and LGBTQI* people.
They told us to stay home, without considering that home is not a safe place for many of us and that there are people who are homeless. Femicides and violence against women and LGBTQI* people have been increasing since this crisis began, and quarantine measures have made it even more difficult for us to rebel against male and gender violence and assert our will for freedom and self-determination.
The crisis is attacking the different material conditions of reproduction, intensifying and making more precarious women’s and LGBTQI* people’s productive and reproductive labor: while they have always been invisible and exploited, now the need for them is becoming visible, making clear the political centrality we have and which we have always claimed.
On the one hand, the patriarchal system assigns the care of the most vulnerable, the elders, and the children, to women, increasing the burden of domestic work. On the other hand, many women – nurses, doctors, janitors, cashiers, workers, pharmacists – have to be at the frontline in this emergency, working in hazardous conditions for their health, for long hours, and often for miserable wages.
Domestic and care work, as well as many precarious or informal jobs, are often carried out by migrant, Afro-descendant, Black, or indigenous women who are now not only dismissed, with no possibility of supporting themselves or paying medical expenses, but also find themselves without residence permits, more vulnerable to racist attacks, and more exposed to the health and economic consequences of infection, as they often live in the most populated and poorest areas.
Thus, on the one hand, our lives are sacrificed to sustain this crisis, while on the other hand, bodies that are not considered productive, as well as those of people with disabilities, are totally invisible, precarious and unprotected.
In indigenous communities and native peoples’ communities, women are intensifying their care and life-support work while, at the same time, they continue to produce the food needed to support the cities. They are emphasizing their central role in mobilizing and producing food and developing mutual support measures to deal with the pandemic.
Some countries open their borders to migrants only when their work is considered necessary to ensure food stability in times of pandemic, while other countries close their borders not only to migrants, but also to their inhabitants, leaving them in refugee camps and violating their right to health and to return to their territory.
On the multiple fronts of war and territories in rebellion, such as what is happening to Kurdish and Palestinian people, the patriarchal and imperialist invasion of territories is ongoing. This complicates the possibilities of receiving adequate treatment, thus intensifying the attack on the revolution of Kurdish women and the struggle of all women who want to be free from colonial and patriarchal domination.
While today, more than ever, health and life are becoming established as collective and politically central matters, years of neoliberal policies have imposed a burden of individual responsibility, with different degrees of intensity: in several countries, cuts have been made to the health and social protection system, leaving thousands of people without medications and forcing them to confront the absence of state support by establishing networks of solidarity and mutual care; in other countries, by contrast, a public health and social protection system never existed and the situation got worse with the widespread implementation of economic austerity and adjustment plans. Moreover, in many cases the crisis is being used to further restrict sexual and reproductive rights of women and LGBTI* people.
From another perspective, neoliberalism is showing its most brutal face in the militarization and over-policing of urban and rural environments and of indigenous territories carried out by armed forces who are taking advantage of the emergency and of the already existing democratic fragility of governments to silence all traces of revolt, to criminalize the solidarity networks that are emerging and to ensure the chain of command of the state, which is becoming more and more authoritarian and repressive.
And, finally, it has become even more evident that we cannot accept the environmental and ecological devastation that subordinates all living species and natural resources to the needs of capital. This favors the same imbalances that have allowed the spread of the coronavirus. Widespread extraction of natural resources, industrial and large-scale production of food, single-crop farming and pollution are condemning millions of people to a new, unprecedented food crisis.
We believe that the responses of governments are completely insufficient, and we reject all policies that continue to finance companies instead of health care and to take advantage of the pandemic to consolidate extractive projects. Although state measures are heterogeneous, the capitalist response to the crisis follows the same logic everywhere in the world: putting profits before our lives, unloading on us the costs of this crisis and producing effects that will not be temporary. We do not want to exit this “emergency” with even more debt and poverty! We want a cross-border feminist way out of the crisis, so that we will not return to a normality structured by inequality and violence.
In every working-class neighborhood, people are organizing to protest and denounce the increase of femicides and domestic violence. Worldwide, domestic workers are denouncing their extreme insecurity and lack of rights. Nurses and doctors are protesting the lack of protective equipment, declaring that their lives are not expendable. Thousands of workers in warehouses and factories are going on strike, because they refuse to sacrifice their health for corporate profits. In their communities, indigenous women continue to fight against the implementation of extractive projects and the privatization of community territories and resources. In every jail, the detained are decrying inhumane prison conditions in an extremely racist military-industrial complex. Everywhere, Afro-descendants and Black people are denouncing institutional racism in the management of the pandemic and migrants are claiming their visas in order to no longer be subjected to conditions that intensify exploitation and violence. Sex workers continue to demand the decriminalization of their jobs so that they are no longer excluded from the social buffers and stigmatized by the patriarchal colonial capitalist system. In Rojava, Kurdish women in the midst of an historic resistance to war, are responding to the pandemic by cross-border strengthening of their confederal self-organization, as well as community health and expanded networks of self-managed and ecological economies.
Coming from different material conditions, and speaking from our plurality of languages, practices, and discourses, we join together to support, strengthen, and interweave our struggles and our forms of rebellion and solidarity, as those that are emerging spontaneously at the global level and are central for boosting our future initiative. What the global feminist strike has taught us during the past four years is that when we are united, we have more power to rebel against the patriarchal and oppressive “normality.” Now more than ever, we must raise our thousands of voices in the same direction, to avoid the fragmentation that the pandemic imposes on us. At this moment, we cannot flood the streets with our feminist power, but we will continue to raise our voices in rage against the violence of a system that exploits, oppresses, and kills us; and we will continue to denounce the guilty, so that when we return to the streets on the front lines, our numbers will be even greater.
We will continue this process of cross-border feminist liberation that we are collectively and expansively weaving. We will continue fighting to build the life that we want and we desire.
We call on everyone who rejects the patriarchal, exploitative, colonial, and racist violence to mobilize and join together to enrich and strengthen the global feminist struggle, because if we unite we can not only emerge from the pandemic, but we can change everything.
Long live the women and the people who struggle!