Education International’s Argentinian affiliates, together with their trade union centres, were part of a women’s cross-sectoral/political/social network, which actively campaigned for the national Parliament to adopt a law legalising abortion.
On 30 December, Argentina became only the third country in South America to permit elective abortions after its Senate approved a legislative change by 38 votes in favour to 29 against with one abstention.
Education unionists affiliated to the Confederación de Educadores Argentinos (CEA), the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA), and the Federación Nacional de Docentes Universitarios (CONADU) were among pro-choice campaigners who had been keeping a vigil outside Buenos Aires’s congressional palace.
CTERA: Voluntary termination of pregnancy is the law; a step for social justice
“Today we took a key step in building a fairer Argentina,” said Sonia Alesso, CTERA General Secretary and member of Education International’s Executive Board, and Roxana Rogalski, CTERA Secretary for Gender Issues and Equal Opportunities.
“We paid off an historic debt. It is an Inalienable right! Our country is at the vanguard in terms of social rights in Latin America, and much of this is thanks to the unwavering struggle of national and popular feminism. The green – the colour worn by advocates of the law – tide of collective building of which CTERA within the framework of the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA) and the Bloque Intersindical de Généro is proud to be a protagonist and a pioneer!”
They concluded by declaring: “Today, we made history!”
CONADU: Huge support for the pro-abortion movement built over the years
Echoing her unionist colleagues, Yamile Socolovsky, CONADU Secretary of International Relations, said: “Workers organised in the unions had enormous expectations that this time it would be law. For many years, we have campaigned to demand legal, safe, and free abortion. We have built a huge support movement at social level, a movement at the centre of popular feminism and which we have built over the years and in which trade unionists have played and still play an important role.”
Socolovsky is also the CTA Secretary for Training and is in charge of coordinating the CTA Secretariat for Gender Issues. She stressed the support of the abortion law by a wide range of women trade unionists, social movements and feminism.
This victory is the result of five years of mass protest marches by Argentina’s grassroots women’s movement. It began as a Twitter campaign against gender violence, using the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (“Not one more” – meaning no more women lost to gender violence).
The first spontaneous march on 3 June 2015 was in response to the murder of pregnant 14-year-old Chiara Páez, who was found buried underneath her boyfriend’s house after being beaten to death by him.
It was this dramatic and outrageous event that helped to bring trade union and other women activists together on a range of women’s rights issues, including the right to abortion.