In places where access to information isn’t reliable, support groups and networks can play a hugely important role.
In Mexico, as has been highlighted in previous posts, there is a gender-based problem that needs to be addressed. Among many things, such as security, access to education, sexual rights and health, access to information is one of the biggest problems for Mexico’s female population. It is inevitable to address religion when talking about women’s access to information here in Mexico – it’s the second largest Catholic population in the world, and although religion has proven to aid many people through personal or community issues, it definitely has an impact on the county’s public policy.
Although Mexico claims to be a Lay State, it has been proven in the past that the reality is quite different. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, often when more progressive policies have been pursued the conservative population has demonstrated their rejection. So, it is normal to expect that conservative opinions have influenced a lot of the institutions that should be safe spaces for women, men, the LGBTTI community and non-binaries. In no way am I trying to attack the conservative community, I am simply stating the facts.
Fortunately, we have each other. I know that around the world there are many support groups on all sorts of issues and Mexico is no exception. A lot of NGOs exist to inform women or the LGBTTI community about their rights and options to acquire safe and up-to-date information, but often these organisations don’t have a communications strategy to reach as many women as they want to.
We also have social networks, which have allowed the creation of closed and private groups that require the authorization of moderators. I find these groups to be extremely helpful in securing the safe space everyone needs from time to time.
Among many things, these groups have made me a better woman and a better feminist. From sharing memes, art or music, we also share articles, opinions, stories or information we know might help each other. Yes, we come from many different backgrounds and tend to have very different opinions, but we always respect each other and if mistaken, we forgive or ask for forgiveness because we are chingonas. And the strangest and most wonderful thing is, we don’t even know each other in real life!
Many of the groups’ members have expressed their desire to collaborate in art exhibitions, some of them have had picnics together, and some of us have collaborated on projects like Girls Globe. Many of the experiences have been very enriching, but for me, the highlights of these groups is that they remind you that you are not alone.
The latest initiative we came up with was to fill this Buzzfeed Mexico’s post with positive comments, and one of the members came up with the idea to rephrase the question from: “what is the worst you have done to another woman” to “what is the best thing you have done to another woman or has been done to you by another woman”.
Information and support is shared frequently on safe sex, clinics, organizations, reproductive rights, reporting violence, getting out of abusive relationships, safe and legal abortions (it is believed in Mexico the only place where to get an abortion in Mexico City, but in other cities you can get a legal and safe procedure), among many other things . Discussions and debate often follows, but in a very constructive way.
Surrounding myself with feminists has made me realize that a lot of other people are fighting the same fights, struggling with the same issues, and enduring the same injustices that I am. It has also showed me my position of privilege and made me understand other perspectives from Latin American women.
It has definitely made my mornings easier, since my social networks feeds are full of positive articles and information, and it has motivated me to continue on working to achieve gender equality in Mexico.
I am certain that in your country there will be a group similar to ours, but if there isn’t I strongly encourage you to create one. If you want information on how to moderate a group like this, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and reach out to me.
Cover photo credit: Hugo Martínez Toledo, Instagram