By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Tomorrow, March 8th, from 4PM, women will gather outside Rio de Janeiro’s Candelária church in Centro to commemorate International Women’s Day. This year’s event calls special attention not just to violence committed against women, but also to society’s dependence on unpaid domestic labour that women do.
“The biggest challenge for women today in Rio de Janeiro is just to survive,” said Flávia Prata, a member of 8M Mulheres (8 Million Women) and one of the march’s organisers. “You don’t know if you will when you wake up, you don’t know if you will return when you leave the house. It’s important to bring these points to the front of people’s minds.”
Brazil has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world: according to Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), femicide kills one woman is killed every two hours. The Map of Violence against Women, put together by Agência Patrícia Galvão, also shows that a woman is raped every eleven minutes in Brazil, and that approximately 179 assaults are reported every day.
“Even with things that are supposed to be about joy – like Carnival – are bloodier for women,” Prata said, referring to this annual rise in crimes related to violence against women during Carnival. This year, 14 percent of all crimes attended to by police during Rio Carnival were related to violence against women.
But unlike last year, organizers behind this year’s march are also asking women to strike for the day, forgoing both paid and unpaid labor.
“Domestic chores are the worst form of labor,” said Prata. “In a capitalist society, the absolute minimum should be that you share the unpaid labor fairly. But that doesn’t happen here: women are responsible for caring for the children, cooking, cleaning, as well as doing their paid work.”
One of the march’s main talking points this year is the upcoming pension reforms proposed by Brazil’s federal government. 8M Mulheres maintains that the attempt to match men’s and women’s time contributions is unfair, as it discounts unpaid domestic labour. Additionally, the group says that recent austerity measures make women more vulnerable to both unemployment and gender-based violence.
Although Rio’s march will wear the signature deep purple of International Women’s Day, similar women’s strike movements in the U.S. planned for the same day are asking women to wear red.
Participants in the Rio march will gather from 4PM and the march will start from 6PM. Similar protests will take place in dozens of cities across 35 countries, including the U.S., UK, Argentina, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Russia.