The first elections held in Honduras after the coup present opportunities and risks for the country. What do these elections mean for women’s rights?
Women defenders differ on what can be expected from the political parties in this process—whether they serve the women’s emancipation struggle or pose an obstacle to it. In some aspects, they see possibilities for advancement and in others, no.
On one point, however, they coincide: The political parties and the electoral process in general are not enough. They don’t have the ability to break the control of the powers that be; they’ve made no progress in defending the land, and in many ways end up reproducing discrimination. Women defenders argue that grassroots organizations must be continually strengthened in order to guarantee true democracy.
Here they share their thoughts on the elections:
It must be said that it is important for a woman to be running for office, a woman who fought in the streets, who waged a huge battle, who is really brave, who has been developing as a politician, as a person who has opted to contend for political power in this country in a way. I say ‘in a way’ because, even if the LIBRE party wins, the real power in this country will continue to be held by the de facto powers that rule by imposition.
It must also be said that the simple fact that she’s a woman doesn’t guarantee that she will lead a fight against patriarchy, although I believe it can be an opportunity for this to happen. And we, as women, should always push towards this proactively, critically and autonomously as social movements that struggle against all forms of domination—patriarchy, capitalism, racism, colonialism, or whatever we face.
I believe that for her (Xiomara Castro) as a woman, emancipation must be a challenge, just as it’s an ongoing challenge for all women. She must already feel the challenge to transform; it’s important that she do this now, with the awareness that it won’t come about by making statements. It’s a daily battle that she’ll have to wage from the bed to the presidential palace.
“Day after day they seize our belongings and our territories even though we wage a daily struggle to keep them from doing it. They say they’ll respond, but in practice, to live in our communities is to struggle, resist and defend our territories.”
We women are holding up the world, the planet itself. We’re holding up an economy that makes it possible for us to keep on living the way we do. We’re magical, incredible. We have the magic to make sure our families are fed. As women, we don’t hope for anything from the political parties. They have power over everything. They control the territory.
We continue to experience discrimination against women, in particular for those who are candidates in the race. We think this process should begin with the commitments made by the parties. There are communities like my own where we have an agenda we must put into practice in order to make any progress in the attainment of women’s rights.
For us, these elections represent a total setback. Fewer women are running for positions with decision-making power, and many of our rights have been taken away.