Last weekend, women followed the Marea Verde and took over the streets of Mexico. Our goal? To demand laws that respect and protect our reproductive rights.
What is the Marea Verde?
‘Marea Verde’ literally means ‘green wave’, but that doesn’t explain the full meaning. There is much more behind those two words. Marea Verde is a feminist movement advocating for the decriminalization of abortion. Women deserve the right to choose if and when they want to become mothers – and to make that choice without fear.
First, it is important to understand that in Mexico, not all women have access to sex education. Furthermore, many women live in fear of violence, and then there are the women who do not feel ready, or simply do not desire motherhood.
Supporters of the Marea Verde movement carry green scarves tied on bags, purses, backpacks, etc. as a symbol of change. Each time women mobilize for this cause, wrists, necks, heads, walls and whole streets turn green.
In Latin America, like the rest of the world, lawmakers have historically been mostly men – so we continue to live in systems created by and for them. In many countries, women have begun to win equality in representation and decision-making. Systems should belong to both men and women, but still there is a long way to go.
The background of the Green Wave is extensive, but it has received more attention since 2018 when huge movements to decriminalize abortion took place in Argentina. Although it came close to becoming a reality, the Senate eventually voted against changes in the law. The news was heartbreaking for all of us who followed the Argentinian fight. The disappointment hurt our pride, fueled our anger and led the Green Wave to spread all over Latin America.
September 28 is the Day of Global Action for Legal and Safe Abortion, otherwise known as the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion. The goal is to make the problem visible and demand the recognition of abortion as a right. #GritoGlobalPorAbortoLegal (Global Shoutout for Legal Abortion) gathers Latin American feminists, collectives and allies in an annual march to demand laws in favor of women’s reproductive rights.
Lawmakers need to add our needs to their agenda. All women need the freedom to choose to become mothers and the freedom to choose not to. Abortions happen even when there are laws against it. Are we willing to accept that the only option is to be forced to be a mother? The outcomes of this include abandoned and neglected children, women dying because of unsafe abortions or women going to jail.
The World Health Organization supports the important impact that laws have on women’s lives:
“(…) Legal restrictions, together with other barriers, mean many women induce abortion themselves or seek abortion from unskilled providers. The legal status of abortion has no effect on a woman’s need for an abortion, but it dramatically affects her access to safe abortion.”
This matters because worldwide, an estimated 25 million unsafe abortions occur each year. 97% of these occur in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We are protesting a global public health issue.
We need to break the myths that limit and hurt women’s freedom. It is not okay to impose moral rules and religious beliefs over what should be a human right. Safe abortions do not kill women. In the contrary, they empower women through their independence and autonomy.
What’s happening in Mexico?
The Marea Verde took over Mexico last weekend. There are many reasons why we need a movement to raise women’s voices and put pressure on our legislators here. For the past 12 years, Mexico City was the only place where women could access a legal and safe abortion. Recently, Oaxaca decriminalized abortion too, which is a step forward.
In Puebla, there are lawmakers who support the pro-choice cause, but Congress keeps delaying the votes. In the past few years, at least 1183 women from this state travelled to Mexico City to get an abortion. The situation, including teenage pregnancy and violence against women, is challenging and complex, but we keep moving for change.
Women are complete human beings, whether they are mothers or not. Motherhood should be a personal decision. It is our right to choose what happens to our bodies. This is why we are turning our cities green and asking for sex education, contraception, and legal abortion.
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can join the ‘Marea Verde’ movement. Being pro-choice means being pro-women. We can achieve change, step by step, by informing ourselves, choosing representatives who are truly advocates for human rights, supporting each other as women and by proactively promoting a society governed with a gender perspective.
Diana Meneses took over the Girls’ Globe instagram Stories on September 28 from Puebla, Mexico. Watch her takeover here.