From the housewives’ trade union Santa Fe, Argentina
Off Our Backs, Mar/Apr 2002
The people of Argentina have undergone severe economic and political shocks in the past few months. The government has frozen all bank accounts and people cannot withdraw their money. This is particularly severe in Argentina because people don’t tend to use credit cards.
There have been popular protests in response. Two governments resigned because of the protests and Argentina had three presidents within one week. However, bank accounts are still frozen. In addition, the government has said that the money in the accounts, when people can withdraw it, will be available only in pesos, which are worth less than dollars, even though many people had saved the money in dollars.
In the face of the increasingly serious situation of our people, we feel we have the responsibility and also the renewed hope for our voices to be heard. Here is our proposal.
-Sindicato de Amas de Casa
Santa Fe, Argentina
January 17, 2002
We are the women who work outside of the home and get the lowest wages, and those who work only in the home and get no wages.
We are the women who have to send our daughters and sons to the soup kitchens because we have nothing to give them to eat, and those who still have something but don’t know for how long.
We are the mothers whose children have had to leave school, and those whose children stayed in school but now are leaving the country because the education they got doesn’t help them to get a job.
We are the women in the hospital queues early in the morning waiting to be seen, and the older people and the pensioners who may have social security but this has been bankrupted by successive governments.
We are the women who emigrated from the interior or from other Latin American countries because we had nothing to eat, and who ended up, more discriminated, in slums.
We are the teenagers who don’t want to be mothers so young but are deprived of that choice.
We are the adult women who want a better present for ourselves and a better future for our daughters. And we are the older women discarded because of age who today have to support our grandchildren because their parents can’t.
We are the women farmers who since childhood have worked the land that today is up for auction.
We are the women who have never had anything, and those who had life savings in the bank which today they want to steal from us.
We are the women who suffer violence inside and outside our homes.
We are the women discriminated against because of the color of our skin, because we are domestic workers, because we are sex workers, or because of our sexual preference. We are each and every woman in Santa Fe, Argentina, Latin America…
We women are already building a better present and a better future! We want a different life for ourselves and our families where the priorities are: the welfare of the people rather than the pockets of the usual capitalists, the dignity of the people and social justice rather than charity given for political advantage, accountability rather than corruption. We know that this is possible.
Therefore we demand that:
- The money collected from oil export rights must not be used to save the banks, nor is the country to be further indebted to international creditors for that purpose.
- The banks, major supermarkets and privatised companies,,must be made to pay employers’ contributions, to be used to reactivate the country’s economy.
- Taxes must be imposed not on essentials but on non-essential luxury goods.
With these resources, and with what can be counted on from the suspension of the external debt:
- An employment benefit must be introduced for.unemployed heads of households, women and men.
- Women must be prioritized for benefits distributed through employment plans without doing community work as a condition for receiving them, so that mothers in the greatest poverty with five, six or more children, are not prevented from taking care of them.
- A wage must be paid for caring work since the care of people by women and.girls is a priority activity which must be recognised and paid for.
- The social and productive value of housewives must be recognised through a pension.
- A benefit must be paid for each child, and to ensure it is spent on the children, it must be paid to the mother.
We also demand that:
Small savers’ deposits be refunded: these savings are often compensation for redundancy. Their loss has made the situation of those who have nothing to live on even more desperate.
- The auction of small farmers’ land be suspended: they have become indebted through high-interest banks loans and the loss of value of their produce.
To ensure accountability, it is essential that:
- The Supreme Court of Justice, which has shielded the corrupt and violated the most elementary constitutional rights of the citizen, be put on trial.
- The families of the 35 people who were murdered in the events of 19th and 20th of December get justice.
- The employment plans be submitted to social audits by women in each neighborhood to prevent them from being used politically by those who negotiate with the needs of the poorest.
We put forward these ideas for the consideration of all women and invite each of you to express your views, to discuss, dissent, propose, and not to allow others to decide for or against us any more. Let us meet in the neighborhoods, in the organizations to which we belong or with which we are active, to discuss alternatives and proposals, and circulate them, using all the means at our disposal: by post, media, telephones, word of mouth.
Although women have always been involved in the popular struggle, from the Indigenous and slave rebellions at the time of the Conquest, to the movement of the mothers during the dictatorship, to today’s “cacerolazo, “we have not been listened to and our demands have been postponed in the name of “more urgent” needs. Other women in Latin America and in the world are banging their pots not only in support of the Argentinian people but on their own behalf, because beyond national realities, we women have needs and demands which bring us together as sisters.
We will all together find the ways to build a country and a world which starts with people’s needs rather than corporate greed Let us defend with all the energy, intelligence and passion of which we women are capable, the dignity and the future that we deserve. Join this call and invite other women to join. Tell us what you are doing, proposing, how you are organizing.
Sindicato de Amas de Casa, Francia 3036, 3000 Santa Fe, Argentina, Tel: 0342-4530216; 0342– 49600868 (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the U.S., contact WinWages, PO Box 11795, Philadelphia, PA, 19101, Tel: 215-848-1120, http:// womenstrike8m.server101.com