On International Women's Day, March 8, thousands of women, including journalists, took to the streets in the main cities of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
In Mexico, in a massive unprecedented protest according to the press in that country, female journalists from various media, and many who are part of the collective Periodistas Unidas Mexicanas (PUM), joined the March 8 march to protest against "the macho media,” because of the work and sexual harassment they face in their jobs, according to the Mexican magazine Proceso.
“Today, #8M2020, we women journalists protest against the violence that is exerted against us every day for the simple fact of being women. And, in particular, against #MediosMachos who discriminate against us within their newsrooms and through their content,” PUM published on its Twitter account.
In its statement released via Twitter, the PUM collective demanded equal wages from their employers for jobs of equal value, parity in coverage and on editorial boards, and immediate attention to sexual and work harassment they face in the exercise of their profession as female journalists in Mexico.
During the march, some journalists present were attacked. According to the Spanish news agency EFE, unknown men sprayed fire extinguisher powder and an unidentified gas in the faces of two journalists, respectively, in Mexico City.
According to EFE, the March 8 protest brought together more than 80,000 people. Most of the women wore lilac clothing as a representation of their gender and to demand justice for the women murdered in that country in the face of the growing wave of femicides. According to official figures, during 2019 more than a thousand women were murdered, Telemundo published.
A large number of women journalists also observed the national strike for women proposed for March 9, such as # UnDíaSinEllas (A Day Without Them) or #UnDíaSinMujeres (A Day Without Women). Social networks showed newsrooms that were almost empty due to the absence of female journalists that day.
Chile, Brazil, Argentina, among other countries in the region, also participated in #UnDíaSinMujeres, although in smaller numbers. For some, like Argentina, March 9 was a second day of protests.
In Argentina, the March 8 protests were largely led by the #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) movement against gender violence and around the demand for the legalization of abortion and the inclusion of a gender perspective, according to El País of Spain.
The massive march had two colors, lilac that characterizes feminist movements and green for the fight for independence of the woman's body.
Several journalists' unions among other human rights groups signed a statement published on the Argentine site Página 12.
“We demand sick leave for gender violence in our jobs and specialized personnel to implement it without blockages. Also the ratification of Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), against violence in the working world, ”the statement said in one of its extracts. "Stop sexual harassment and gender violence."
The marches in Brazil were also numerous and in various parts of the country, but especially in large cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, according to national media.
According to the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj for its acronym in Portuguese) of Brazil, the main problems faced by women journalists in Brazil are moral and sexual harassment on social networks.
Since the beginning of March, according to Fenaj, the federation's women's commission has called on all women journalists in Brazil to participate in a series of activities scheduled on March 8 in their states and municipalities.
"In the face of the recent sexist, machista and misogynistic attacks, we decided to call March 9 the Day of Struggle for Women Journalists, calling on the workers to wear lilac and join in the fight for dignity and respect," said Samira de Castro, vice president of Fenaj, on March 8.
According to a Fenaj report published in January 2020, attacks on journalists and the media in Brazil increased by 54 percent in 2019 compared to 2018. More than half of the attacks came from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
On March 10, the women’s collective Jornalistas Contra o Assédio (Journalists Against Harassment) did a Tweetstorm against sexual harassment, with the hashtag #MulheresJornalistasEmLuta (#WomenJournalistsInTheFight), as reported by Catraca Livre. It was a day of tweets in favor of gender equality rights and against harassment of women journalists.
“The attack against them, as observed more and more violently in recent months and also endorsed by public agents with mandates, represents an attempt to silence that is not only harmful to press freedom, guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution, but, above all, for the citizen's right to information,” the collective warned regarding aggressions against women journalists.
One million people took to the streets in the main cities of Chile on March 8, although the protests suffered strong police repression, as reported by Perfil.
In the framework of the march for women's rights, the Colegio de Periodistas de Chile (Chilean Journalists Association) spoke about the wage gap, gender violence and harassment experienced by women journalists in the country, as published by Edición Cero.
The protest of many Chilean journalistic unions, such as the Red Periodistas Feministas de Chile (Network of Feminist Journalists of Chile), Mujeres En el Medio (Women in the Media), among others, marched to demand #MediosNoSexistas (Non-Sexist Media). The journalists demanded better journalistic practices without discrimination or gender stereotypes and violence, according to statements they published via Twitter.
According to the most recent report of the Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), "Women journalists and freedom of expression," murders and violence against women journalists worldwide have increased. This manifests itself in different ways, "from murder, sexual violence, including sexual harassment to intimidation, abuse of power and gender-based threats," the report states.
"Violence against women is perpetrated by different actors, such as state officials, sources of information or colleagues and takes place in various contexts and spaces, including the street, the workplace and state offices or institutions," it said.