women's work

to create (ourselves)
A couple of weeks back, I got an email inviting me to meet Maria Galindo of the Bolivian women's organization, Mujeres Creando (Women Creating). Seven of us gathered Sunday evening in the elegant yet welcoming apartment of two of the women. Over coffee and occasionally distracted by the antics of a small black cat, we discussed support for prostitutes, anarchist graffiti, neoliberalism and it's impact on Bolivian migration, art exhibitions in Madrid, Evo Morales, radio access and more. This group were not afraid to work in new ways, to push boundaries and overturn ideas. In response to the sometimes forceful re-emergence of aymaran identity, Maria told us a phrase used by some women activists in Bolivia,'We are not original peoples, we are originals.'

to make truth
A few days later I found myself translating (after a fashion) for four North American visitors at the centre of Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo). Small, neat and silver-haired, Grandmother Alba talked with us about the thirty year search for four hundred children, taken with, or born in captivity to their 'disappeared' children. Imagine all your beliefs, your plans and dreams changing, in one moment of terror and grief. Imagine becoming detective, activist, court room witness, social organizer and economic protester. Imagine hearing about a strange, new technology that could prove links between grandchild and grandmother; and imagine orchestrating the use of pioneering DNA identification in trials to prove a child's true identity. Imagine finding 87 grandchildren, "unwrapping the bandages of lies formed around them". Imagine still searching for your own grandchild, thirty years on.

to survive
Last week I accompanied two workers from MEDH, the Ecumenical Human Rights Movement of Argentina, to the second meeting of a group of women in a poor district of the city. The women talked about survival despite lack of basic health care, uncollected rubbish, pollution from the disused lead factory, dealers and police positioning for control. They talked about control over their bodies, and violence endured, challenged, resisted.

A woman's work is never done.

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