OPINION: Lessons from the Latin American feminist movement

Before the school year comes to a close and Walker Beach is wiped clean, Arianne O’Hara PZ ‘25, Sara Garza González PO ‘25, Katherine Shepherd PO ‘23 and Mariana Duran PO ‘24 contextualize a mural painted by Latin American students earlier this spring. (Sasha Matthews • The Student Life)

As the 2022-2023 school year comes to a close, Walker Beach will soon get a clean slate. Before that happens, we wanted to commemorate the messages behind a mural that we and other Latin American students painted on March 8, as a tribute to the feminist marches taking place that day in our countries.

In Claremont and throughout the United States, March 8th (8M) is a celebration for International Womxn’s Day; in Latin America and the Caribbean, however, we commemorate the femicides that plague our countries and rally against gender-based violence and discrimination with the hopes of creating awareness. 

Womxn in Latin America are in constant fear of becoming another femicide figure, another name that protestors immortalize on walls during a 8M march, that, in the eyes of authorities barricading monuments and public spaces, are more important than our lives. 

In 2015, “Ni Una Menos, Ni Una Mas” started in Argentina as a social media movement to protest against femicides, as well as gender and racial-based violence targeting womxn. Since then, the movement has grown to a transnational protest and has expanded to address other patriarchal systemic oppressions, such as the lack of reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights and disability rights. 

Studying at the 5Cs as Latin American womxn, there’s a strange kind of dissonance that arises in us. Even though we carry our hurt and the hurt of our Latin American sisters, here we could go about 8M as if it were any other day. Claremont doesn’t vibrantly shake with chants denouncing femicides.

Many of us came to study here partially because the privileges we were born with allowed us to move to a space where it is relatively easier to exist as womxn. But this hurt — the names of femicide victims that we remember, this desire to make things better for all of us in Latin America, to keep pushing for more rights and for justice — are things we still carry and that we want to fiercely acknowledge.

This year, a group of us decided to commemorate the day like we would if we were back home. Reflecting the way feminist marches in Latin America have become synonymous with painted and graffitied walls, we decided we would make a mural in Walker Wall, as a tribute to the movement and all the womxn the movement keeps fighting for. 

Students use paint bought with funds from the Women’s Union. (Mariana Duran • The Student Life)

Illuminated by our phones’ flashlights and hiking headlamps, we created our tribute, blasting Spanish rock as we made our mural using paint bought with funds from the Women’s Union. Between brushstrokes, we talked about our friends back home who had made it to the marches and traded stories and experiences with the movement as well as our own experiences with the rampant misogyny that exists back home. 

The mural is composed of a womxn bearing the green bandana, a famous symbol for reproductive rights in Latin America. Her clothing is marked “8M ’23” for the 2023 International Womxn’s Day, as well as the female glyph with a held-up fist in the middle, a recurrent symbol of resistance used in Latin America. She is enveloped in raging red and pink flames, representing the pure flames of rage, spirit and fury. From the tips of the fire rise cruces rosas (pink crosses), common symbols of deceased womxn that commemorate their lives. 

Together with these cruces are purple handprints of the participants in the mural, permanently solidifying our contribution as collective artists. Written on each of the handprints are names of womxn who have fallen victim to femicides in the past, defying their disappearance and removal from history. For each name is an entire family and community that continues to mourn their losses, so let their identities remain on our consciousnesses eternally. In bold black letters atop the fire are “NI UNA MÁS, NI UNA MENOS.”

Students illuminate the mural using their phones’ flashlights and hiking headlamps.
(Mariana Duran • The Student Life)

This phrase translates to “not one more, not one less,” and it has banded together a trans-continental alliance. An alliance that has been bonded by sacrifice, loss, grief, passion and anger. The many colors used in this mural are all extremely important to the feminist movement we have grown up with. Purple, green, pink and red are all colors that symbolize bodily autonomy, legal abortion, femicides, gender violence, LGBTQ+ and menstruation rights. 

In the years since the fourth wave of the Latin American feminist movement ignited, many countries in our region have begun enacting laws to increase protections from gender-based discrimination and sexual violence, increased reproductive rights and passed laws to push for representation. Still, there is much work to be done, which is why, every March 8, thousands of womxn across Latin America keep marching and fighting.

As we continue to write about 8M, we want to acknowledge how our privileges allowed us to escape the dangers that womxn in LATAM face every day, especially girls and womxn who are Afrolatinas, Indigenous, poor, queer, disabled and/or immigrants. Additionally, we want to emphasize the different positionalities we each have that grant us access to these private institutions — privileges such as being white, wealthy, abled, straight and/or a United States citizen. 

We all hold different locations in the intersections of privileges, yet they do not blur the hurt we carry from the violence we experienced before arriving at the 5Cs or disregard the acts of violence and oppression that are also present in the United States. Our purpose is not to paint the United States as a safe haven but to share how 8M is commemorated in Latin America, communicating insights that could be useful for social movements in the United States. 

We painted the mural and we write this piece because we are united by the same cause of making femicides in LATAM a matter that is discussed transnationally — it already is a matter that is experienced transnationally. We seek to bring our marea verde to the United States, not to Americanize the movement but to illustrate how a community-based, global fight can yield more successful outcomes for everyone involved.

Lastly, we share the song that we chanted the night we created this mural. It is one that has been blasted on speakers at every protest and every movement since its creation; it is the hymn of the feminist movement in LATAM. Written by Viviana Monserrat Quintana Rodríguez (Vivir Quintana), it is called “Canción Sin Miedo” (Song Without Fear). 

Cantamos sin miedo, pedimos justicia

We sing without fear, we ask for justice

Gritamos por cada desaparecida

We shout for every womxn who has disappeared

Que resuene fuerte: ¡Nos queremos vivas!

Let it resonate loudly: We want us alive!

¡Que caiga con fuerza el feminicida!

Let the feminicide fall strongly


Arianne O’Hara PZ ’25 is a sophomore at Pitzer. She grew up in Mexico City.

Katherine Shepherd PO ’23 is a senior at Pomona. She grew up in Guatemala City and Houston, Texas.

Sara Garza González PO ’25 is a sophomore at Pomona from Tampico, Mexico. 

Mariana Duran PO ’24  is a junior at Pomona from Guadalajara, Mexico.

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