LIMA – Working women came together with those of African origin and Venezuelan immigrants on Saturday for a march organized in Lima by feminist groups to demand their rights and protest against gender-based violence and abuse on the eve of the International Women’s Day.
Women of all ages, students, artists, activists and members of some political parties marched on the streets of central Lima chanting slogans and holding placards denouncing gender violence, discrimination and labor exploitation.
Former congressional candidate and Lima sanitation workers’ union representative Isabel Cortez attended the demonstration with a delegation of the union that recently won a Supreme Court case for getting formal contracts from the city’s municipality.
Cortez told EFE that 70 percent of the public sanitation workers in the capital were women.
“At the national level, the rights of female public sanitation workers are violated, we are not respected by our authorities,” she said.
“We are constantly suppressed by third parties, also by the municipal government, because it does not prioritize our health, better working conditions and salaries.”
Speaking at the march, Cortez demanded that the Lima city council implement the Supreme Court decision and improve the working conditions for women, the “backbone of our families.”
A collective of Afro-Peruvian women also attended the gathering with the slogan: “We are the granddaughters of the slaves you could not kill.”
Rocio Munoz, spokesperson of the group “Presencia y Palabra,” (presence and voice) told EFE that it aimed to make the state address “structural racism affecting women of African descent and the Afro-Peruvian population” and generate public policies needed to ensure a stop to violence and racism against the community.
“In the case of black women of African descent, we have to consider how racial violence could be a cause or even aggravate situations of violence…which is not always visible on the (public) agenda.”
She insisted that exclusion and neglect of these women needed to be addressed and their access to higher education, equal employment opportunities and adequate healthcare had to be ensured.
The Venezuelan immigrant population, which numbers around a million in Peru, was represented at the march by the association of immigrant and refugee women Pasos Firmes (Firm Steps), which is based in the crowded Comas district.
Pasos Firmes President Yoani Gonzalez, a Venezuelan herself, told EFE that “reaching Peru is not easy.”
“Most of us come from situations of depression and this adds to the vulnerability and inability to adapt to this country, to being vulnerable to trafficking, abuse, workplace exploitation.”
The organization is working to provide information over the procedure to obtain refugee status and establishing small enterprises to the immigrant women, many of whom are single mothers forced to work up to16 hours a day while leaving their children alone.
At the march, the group urged the government to issue refugee cards to the women seeking asylum, and recognize the document for accessing jobs and other benefits.