‘Hats Off!’ to the 31st National Assembly of Women

Over 70,000 women contributed to the history of feminist struggles in Rosario, Argentina from 8 to 10 October.

1 November 2016 by Maria Elena Saludas

Photo Sebastián Pittavino (feeling moved at the end of the meeting)

The National Assembly of Women or ‘Encuentro Nacional de Mujere’s (ENM) is an annual event which has taken place in Argentina since 1986. It provides a space for women that is deeply democratic, pluralistic, self-financed, federal and fair. Women from all over Argentina and Latin America come together in order to share, debate and seek out answers to a multitude of issues, some of which have very serious consequences, which women often face on a daily basis.

The variety of workshops this year allowed us to tackle some of these struggles, which we encounter, among other places, at work and at home, in our neighbourhoods, in rural and urban areas, from school up to university. These workshops were held concurrently in different locations in the city of Rosario, over the course of the three-day event.

The opening of the ENM in front of Argentina’s National Flag Memorial – Photo by Sebastián Pittavino

This year it was Rosario, a city of contrasts situated on the banks of the Paraná River, that welcomed reflections and debates but also celebrations, filling the streets and squares with music, song, a sense of camaraderie and protest.

A brief overview of the ENM

In 1985 a group of Argentinian women participated in the closing of the UN Decade for Women in Kenya. When they returned, the women felt it was vital to meet up and discuss the specific problems faced by women in their country. As is true for other parts of the world, the women in Argentina suffered considerable discrimination with regard to roles in society.

This resulted in the first meeting in Argentina in 1986, an event which has continued ever since, each year growing in size and success. One thousand women united in 1986; this year over 70,000 comrades joined together in Rosario.


The workshops are at the heart of these meetings. All women take part in them. They are democratic and pluralistic. They disrupt the status quo which dictates that only certain people can express themselves whilst the rest listen in silence. The workshops make sovereign decisions , the topics discussed belong exclusively to the women present and they operate on the basis of consensus in order to guarantee that everyone has a say; they do not vote.

No less than 69 issues were tackled over the course of 100 workshops this year. In each workshop a Coordinator was tasked with overseeing the debate and ensuring that all voices were heard.

Appointed secretaries recorded the debates and released the conclusions to be published by the organising committee at the end of the meeting. These conclusions were read during the closing meeting and will be given to participants at the next meeting.

Fundamentally, the workshops help us realise that we are not alone, that we can unite to set aside our suffering and try to alter the reality in our country and in our world. [1]

ATTAC-CADTM Argentina took part in the workshop ‘Women and the Current Global Crisis’, which merged with the ‘Women and Public Debt’ workshop . Only a few minutes into the workshop and we had to split the group in two as there were too many people to fit in the class room which the school had allocated to us. This was the case for the majority of discussions. In fact, it was necessary to continue debates in the courtyard as there were so many women who were keen to share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. their suffering, their wisdom, their experiences, and their resistance.

Photo by Graciela Quiroga

Two important propositions were agreed on:

1) Raise awareness of the increase of debt caused by payments into vulture funds Vulture funds
Vulture fund
Investment funds who buy, on the secondary markets and at a significant discount, bonds once emitted by countries that are having repayment difficulties, from investors who prefer to cut their losses and take what price they can get in order to unload the risk from their books. The Vulture Funds then pursue the issuing country for the full amount of the debt they have purchased, not hesitating to seek decisions before, usually, British or US courts where the law is favourable to creditors.
, which was permitted by the Macri government with Argentina’s entry into the capital and issuance bond Bond A bond is a stake in a debt issued by a company or governmental body. The holder of the bond, the creditor, is entitled to interest and reimbursement of the principal. If the company is listed, the holder can also sell the bond on a stock-exchange. markets in dollars and euros.
Suspend payments of public debt and immediately carry out an integrated and participatory audit.

2) Participate in continental days to support democracy and stand against neo-liberalism. They are based on the fight against impunity of multinationals and the legal framework which protects them via all kinds of free trade agreements. These days will take place across the continent on 4 November, the anniversary of NO to the FTAA’s (Free Trade Area of the Americas) triumph.

Photo by Graciela Quiroga

The National Assembly of Women in Rosario exceeded expectations in terms of the number of participants, the workshop debates and the traditional march which was the meeting’s climax. Thousands of women from a range of organisation, social movements, labour movements, political movements and networks, such as ‘Ni Una Menos’ (‘Not One Less’) or ‘No a la Trata’ (‘No to Trafficking’) took over the city’s streets for hours on end; an experience that does not happen every day. The many flags and banners of this colourful march demanded an end to violence, calling on public policies as well as the enforcement of current laws and the legalisation of safe and free abortion. They rallied against austerity and current rising prices, which exacerbate female suffering in our country today. This year’s event took place at a time when the country is confronted with increasing levels of poverty, unemployment and precarious employment, against the backdrop of a ‘liberalized’ economy. A growing number of situations are having a knock-on effect on specific issues relating to violence, femicide, and marital problems.

The CADTM during the ENM final march – Rosario (Argentina)

Regrettably, attention from the mainstream media was mainly controlled by intervening law enforcement officers at the end of the demonstration. This repression has been condemned by the organising committee, declaring that ‘This historic march, which has attracted the greatest number of participants in the history of our meetings, is the result of great unity and the need for women to be able to express their demands and expectations.’

A powerful demonstration in the streets of Rosario, across more than 5 km to signal the end of the event

Mercedes Meier MP, also stated that ‘These incidents, which come from an unknown source, clearly have no part in the tremendous work that went into this meeting. They can conceal the historical nature by both the impact that exceeded all expectations and by the strength of participation and debate’.

On the morning of 10 October the conclusions and propositions were read in the rain and, as is the case every year, the choice was made, with strong public approval, for the location of the next meeting. It will take place in Chaco Province. The women who made the proposal explained the importance of highlighting poverty, female suffering and the triple oppression they face as poor indigenous women.


Thank you to the following photographers for their fantastic work:
Arq. Graciela Quiroga blog: fotosgraficaydisenios.blogspot.com.ar
Sebastián Pittavino (Journalist who was hit with a rubber bullet in front of the cathedral in Rosario)

Opening ceremony – Photo by Sebastián Pittavino

A beautiful woman is one who fights – Photo by Graciela Quiroga

Article: María Elena Saludas (ATTAC – CADTM Argentina)
Translated by Trommons


[1A list of this year’s workshops can be found at :

Maria Elena Saludas


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