In International Women’s Day demonstrations, an icon’s legacy endures

Women took to the streets in Santiago and around the world to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8, known as 8M. Feminist groups organized marches, concerts, and even football games to promote equal rights and societal power for women. Many demonstrators in Santiago showed up to honor and continue the work of feminist dissident leader Gladys Marín.

Stretching down the Alameda from Plaza Dignidad, thousands of women marched to advocate for women’s rights, safety, and power. Demonstrators sported green and purple, the ubiquitous colors of the worldwide feminist movement. Live music played from the terrace of the Alameda Art Center, and songs and chants rang out through the streets.

Feminist, dissident football

The evening before the march, The Gladys Marín Sports Club taped out a football pitch on the Plaza de Armas. Partnering with the Clubs Foundation, they organized pickup games, called “pichangas,” and invited any women and dissidents to join in. The event, titled “Nothing Stops us, Santiaguinas for 8M,” served as a kickoff for the celebration of International Women’s Day.

In attendance was Irací Hassler, mayor of the Municipality of Santiago. She performed a ceremonial kickoff and congratulated the club for reclaiming this public space. “If these places are safe for women, if these places are safe for dissidents, they also will be for children,” said the mayor, gesturing at a young toddler who had wandered onto the pitch, “and for society as a whole … because we have the right to live well.”

Club member Javiera Díaz, who scored the evening’s first goal, explained how the club carries on Former Chilean Communist Party leader Gladys Marín’s legacy: “More than anything, being visible, always participating, without discrimination towards anybody. Everybody is always invited; getting together with more people is great.” Díaz planned to march on Wednesday with fellow members of the club.

Continuing the fight

Women in Chile have battled for social and political rights for generations. Marín, who passed away 18 years ago this week, was not only a tireless advocate for the working class and against the Pinochet dictatorship, but an outspoken feminist. Many of Wednesday’s demonstrators see themselves as continuing her work.

Standing in front of the Gabriela Mistral Center amid the demonstrations, Paula Castillo reflected on Marín’s legacy: “I believe that, more than anything, she is an inspiration to all women who have political ideas and want to express them.” Castillo acknowledged that, while not everybody at today’s protest has Marín in their thoughts, “her fighter’s spirit is with many who are here.”

Some, indeed, came to the march with Marín in their hearts and minds. Gloria Salina Espinoza, who considers herself a Communist Party sympathizer, sported a t-shirt with Marín’s image on the front. “In the time when Gladys was alive,” she recalled, “we participated — and, well, I’m still participating — in all the marches where she was, because she was the woman who reflected power.”

Salina echoed the sentiments of Marín’s contemporaries who honored her this past Sunday, March 5, describing her as “a consequential woman.” She explained that, in Marín’s case, “consequence” meant “she doesn’t compromise with anyone, she will always be at the front, she will always be with the truth, and she will always be fighting alongside the grassroots.”

Communist Party honors Gladys Marín and her legacy

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