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Historic march in Chile on International Women's Day

12 March, 2020Unions, feminist and migrant groups in Chile marked this year’s International Women’s Day with a mass march in Santiago, raising awareness of  inequality, gender based violence and pushing for a gender equality agenda.

Many protesters gathered in the Plaza Italia, which has become Santiago’s ground zero for the social unrest that began on 18 October last year. 

Horacio Fuentes, Industrial Chile-Constramet president, says: 

“Nearly 2 million people, mostly women, gathered for the demonstration. Protestors demanded that those responsible for violating protestors’ human rights be punished, and that a police force to serve the people be created. It was a successful demonstration, with a show of strength by the feminist movement.”

During the demonstrations, there were artistic displays and chants condemning the patriarchy and the violations of women’s rights in Chile. Protestors sang the iconic feminist anthem "Un violador en tu camino" (A Rapist in your Path), which was created by the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis. The song and the choreography have become popular in other countries, and versions now exist in a number of other languages as well.

In addition to the mass demonstration, unions and civil society organizations held a general strike on 9 march. Unions affiliated to the central organization CUT have committed to fight for greater recognition of women's roles and the value of both paid and unpaid work.

As part of their commitment, CUT unions also called on the Government of Chile to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work.

On 2 March, more than a dozen union leaders delivered a letter to the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Isabel Plá. The letter condemns the government’s silence and inaction over the hundreds of reports of human rights violations since social unrest began in October last year. The unions urge the government to respond and ensure justice for the women and girls who have suffered abuse at the hands of public agents during the protests.

They also demand that the minister take steps to speed up ratification of ILO Convention 190. Once ratified, the Convention can be incorporated into Chilean legislation, making violence and harassment in the workplace punishable by law.