Paraguay: Peasant and Indigenous women call for justice, dignity, and freedom for all

    This March 8, International Working Women’s Day, Articulación Feminista from Paraguay is organizing its eighth march. The strength and struggles of all the women who came before us come with us. Women also stand up every 8M to seek recognition as workers and to stop violence. The feminist movement was historically built by all of us, for those of us who are here today and for those to come.

    As in every march, we raise our voices in a joint call for justice, equity, equality, and respect for human, social, cultural, political, and economic rights. And we make it clear: NOT WITH OUR RIGHTS!

    Today, we march united—cis women, trans women, gender-diverse women, indigenous women, women from Bañada, recyclers, peasant women, Afro-Paraguayan women, racialized women, adolescents, politicians, women with disabilities, neurodiverse and elderly women, sex workers, self-convened women, educators, students, girls, and young women, artists, communicators, journalists, lesbians, bisexuals, asexual women, and all diversities. We understand that our strength lies in our unity of action and in the celebration of our diversity.

    We are at a critical moment, due to the prevailing capitalist, narco-mafioso, and racist system in our country. This system attacks with impunity and force the working-class families, violating the rights gained with our historical struggles. They impose labor precariousness, usurping the funds of the retirement funds, minimizing feminicides, ignoring the protection laws for maternity and breastfeeding, and caring policy systems, supporting the bosses who do not respect equal pay for equal work, and implementing policies to favor and enrich the soy landowners, ranchers, and real estate sectors, usurping and preventing access to land for the peasant, urban, and indigenous women’s families.

    Feminicide in Paraguay is on the rise. In 2023, 45 cases of women were reported murdered, and another 42 were victims of attempted murders. In 2024, there were 7 cases, and 18 children were orphaned. To date, Santiago Peña, President of the Republic, has not signed the bill for the Emergency Law in cases of Feminicide, demonstrating the government’s unwillingness to protect girls and women.

    Women have a double and even triple working day, dedicating an average of 27 hours a week to unpaid work. To make matters worse, besides the care work and household chores, we receive starvation wages, even below the minimum wage. And even in worse conditions are recycler women, who are paid less and less by companies for recycled materials, negatively impacting the family economy. Only 60% of women have access to paid work, and we earn 12.7% less for equal work performed by men.

    We suffer day by day from roads in poor condition, the lack of inclusive routes and roads for people with disabilities, the deficient and costly service of “public” transportation that remains in the hands of speculative business sectors. As a result, women are more affected because we are exposed to harassment at bus stops and buses permanently.

    Peasant, indigenous, and women from Bañada are being dispossessed of our lands and face limitations in access to drinking water, hindering our ability to grow crops and worsening the economic crisis. In addition to this, it is the impact of climate change, the result of destructive policies towards nature. We are violently dispossessed of our territories to benefit soy businessmen, many of whom are not legal owners of the lands they claim, while continuing to pollute the environment with toxic agrochemicals with impunity.

    The right to food of the popular sectors’ families is in crisis. Law 6945 on public kitchens and community centers is becoming bureaucratized, preventing access to the already scarce supplies provided by the Ministry of Social Development. Peasant, indigenous, and women from Bañada do not have the necessary elements to guarantee a portion of food for thousands of families. On the other hand, the school feeding program only reaches 200,000 children out of 1,200,000, without including adolescents in the third cycle and middle school, who are still denied the right to food. This means that the already insufficient public resources allocated to food are being embezzled and used for the private enrichment of politicians and others.

    We demand an end to discrimination and the violation of the right to decent work for women, including those with disabilities, lesbians, transgender, and other marginalized groups, who often lack employment guarantees even when they manage to get jobs. We demand a law that prohibits any form of discrimination and the implementation of a labor quota for transgender people. Furthermore, we demand compliance with the 5% of jobs in the civil service reserved for women with disabilities.

    Trans women denounce that, after being discriminated against for assuming our identity, we are often expelled from our homes during adolescence, which forces us to survive on the streets where we are systematically victims of child abuse.

    We repudiate the exclusion and lack of public policies by the State for the Afro-Paraguayan population, demonstrated once again in the exclusion of the 2022 Census. The community already faces racist practices and discrimination in various areas on a daily basis.

    Women sex workers denounce once again all forms of violence to which we are exposed day after day: we are denied comprehensive medical care, we are not provided with preventive supplies to exercise our work safely, and our serological status is exposed, violating our right to confidentiality. In addition, our rights are violated by obsolete ordinances. We need this government to recognize our rights as citizens. We demand that the Ministry of Labor finally rule in favor of and recognize the Union of Women Sex Workers. Enough of this violence!

    We would like to highlight our concern about the workplace harassment faced by female high school students during their internships.

    In addition, we cannot forget our courageous fellow journalists and communicators of the Alba Visión group, who denounced the sexual and labor harassment they suffered in the company. We demand justice for all of them, including the conviction of Carlos Granada, as well as justice for Angie Prieto, who has been unscrupulously persecuted by the same company.

    We are immersed in what is called a theoretically democracy; however, students, trade unionists, and workers fighting for their rights continue to be persecuted and criminalized.

    We strongly denounce the criminalization of the protest of students who were simply demanding the guarantee of the right to health at the most critical moment of the pandemic. We demand justice for Vivían Genes.

    Thirty-five years have passed since the overthrow of the Stronista dictatorship, yet its successors and allies who still hold positions of power in government have intensified and expanded authoritarian practices that violate human rights. They disguise themselves under a false guise of democracy while imposing conditions that force families to subsist as 71% of our population is forced to work in informal jobs with incomes below even the paltry minimum wage.

    Obstetric violence in hospitals, shortages of medication for women fighting against cancer, medical negligence, and difficulties in obtaining medical appointments constitute criminal acts that affect women’s mental health and endanger their lives.

    Sexual and reproductive education in educational institutions is prohibited, and the Ministry of Education minimizes this fact, despite the knowledge of the high incidence of femicides, transvesticides, and sexual abuse against children. In addition, we denounce the ongoing application of the Riera law and the use of the “12 Anticiencias” books, which promote anti-scientific and sexist content, further distancing education from promoting equity and equality for girls and women.

    We demand the fulfillment of women’s right to plan their lives, to be able to decide how many, when, and with whom they want to have children or if they do not want to have them, as currently many women suffer violence from healthcare personnel, who based on misinformation and prejudices, deny them access to contraceptive methods such as copper IUD or tubal ligation, even though free access to them is a right.

    Added to this is the hate speech of the Minister of Agriculture, who emits homophobic expressions, as well as the attempt of a certain parliamentarian to repeal Law 5777 “On the Integral Protection of Women”. It is clear that Cartismo is the heir of Stronismo. We will not back down and will continue defending our rights, as we have always done.

    We repudiate the decision of the Chamber of Deputies to eliminate the word “gender” from a commission, showing a fanatical and mediocre stance by not understanding its importance as a research category to address the inequalities we girls and women face in Paraguay. Through policies with a gender perspective, we could work to eliminate these inequalities that we denounce year after year.

    Another concern is forced migration, which is a result of the inequalities faced by women who migrate in search of work to provide a future for their families. We see how compatriots are forced to migrate from the countryside to the city or even to other countries. We also receive women from other countries who arrive in search of opportunities.

    Seventy years after Stronismo took over, we raise our voice to denounce and demand justice for the girls raped and murdered by the tyrant Stroessner and his entourage.

    Unfortunately, this violence against girls continues today, with cases of rape, forced childbirth, murder, and disappearances, such as those of the two girls murdered by the Joint Task Force and the forced disappearance of Lichita. We demand her appearance alive!

    In the face of so many abuses, the prosecution and sentencing of the stronista torturer and criminal against humanity, Eusebio Torres, to 30 years in prison represents a victory for the struggle of hundreds of women and men who were tortured, disappeared, and murdered for their ideals of a new homeland. We demand Memory, Truth, and Justice! And the recovery of what was stolen! Dictatorship never again!

    Today we express our solidarity with all women, especially those who experience injustice and oppression in all their forms, as well as with the families of the workers of the Ochsi Company who have died or are hospitalized. This case exemplifies, regrettably, the non-compliance with Occupational Safety laws by companies, with the complicity and negligence of the Ministry of Labor.

    We condemn the attempt to defund education and research areas, which seeks to exclude even more working youth from the educational system. We demand supporting laws that guarantee Zero Tariff funding for public universities and colleges and that the systemic barriers we face as women students in our universities are recognized and addressed.

    We stand in solidarity with Palestinian women and condemn the genocide by Zionism with the support of the US and other countries. We demand a ceasefire and a reparation of Palestinian sovereignty. Free and sovereign Palestine!

    We reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for justice, dignity, equal rights, and full freedom for all rural and urban working women. We strongly repudiate the violation of the National Constitution by this pro-Cartista government that stripped Senator Kattya González of her investiture. We understand that her removal is part of a broader pattern of abuse and concentration of power by Santiago Peña’s puppet government, which seeks to criminalize and repress political opposition and implements state terrorism to continue imposing one single way of thinking, where dissidents are persecuted, willing to silence their voices and hide their struggles.

    We strongly condemn any attempt to use political power to intimidate, persecute, and silence women who fight for justice, equality, and better conditions for a dignified life.

    We will continue to struggle together, recognizing the strength that lies in our diversity, to build a new society. For our rights and against all violence!”