What the Women’s March was really about in Costa Rica

March 12, 2018

By now you probably already know that hundreds of women took to the streets of San José to march for our rights on March 8, International Women’s Day. And let me tell you: it was amazing.

Here’s the thing. To my dismay, because I’m a journalism student, most of the talk has only portrayed one side of it all: the vandalism. You probably read or heard about it, or saw some Facebook posts. Maybe you even fought with somebody about it. It’s the only thing people are highlighting, and I honestly don’t understand why.

The sign reads: "Women for the right to decide." Via Twitter / @marimodoavion

Isn’t it more important to highlight the fact that so many women came out, some of them with their daughters, their brothers, boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, pets, to ask for a better life? They went out there in remembrance of the more than 300 girls who have been the victims of femicide in the last decade. Yes, that’s only in Costa Rica.

They marched for the girls who were raped, abused, bullied, hit, or threatened. And for the ones who, unfortunately, will suffer through that in the future. Girls like you, girls like me. Girls who just want to live every day without worrying about what’s going to happen to them next.

The sign reads: "On my way home I want to be free, not courageous." Via Twitter / @en_velcro

Nobody seems to say that this march was about love and support. Nobody talks about how people who had never met before were hugging, talking and dancing together, posing for pictures. Why don’t people care about these wonderful things? At a time like this, it’s just what we need: love. Lots and lots and lots of love.

And before you even think of coming at me because of what I said about the vandalism: I was raised Catholic. I am a Catholic. I pray and go to church. In no way am I supporting this tiny group – because it really was tiny, just five people – that thought putting graffiti on churches and other buildings was the best way to act. It wasn’t. But those scribbles in those walls do not define the movement. They don’t define the rest of us.

We don’t want to spread hate. We want love to rule the world.

Women dressed as the characters from "The Handmaid's Tale," Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel that is now a popular TV series. Via Twitter / @marimodoavion

I’ll give you an easy example: there have been four femicides in 2018, according to data from the Observatory on Gender Violence against Women and Access to Justice. Imagine if someone said those four men who killed those women defined the rest of the male Costa Rican population. It makes absolutely no sense, right? That’s exactly why that group of five people does not define the rest of us.

Let me tell you what does define us: The fight for love, first of all. The fight for fundamental rights. The fight to have a choice over our mind and bodies. The fight to be able to follow our dreams. The fight for our daughters, nieces or cousins to be born into a world where girls don’t have to be scared anymore. The fight for equality. The fight for life – for a good life.

The gathering of people around the Legislative Assembly at the Women's March on March 8. Via Twitter / @MongePapauli

To all those who think we’re lazy, ridiculous or overreacting: I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not sorry about our movement. We will keep going until we get what we want. That’s what girls do. We couldn’t care less about how you feel about it.

To our supporters: thank you. Thank you for all you do. The fight is far from over, but love and justice will always prevail.

The sign reads: "We are the cry of the women who are not here." Via Twitter / @en_velcro
Paula Alvarez is a journalism student in San José, Costa Rica. She thanks the Twitter users @en_velcro, @MongePapauli and @marimodoavion, who shared their images of the march with her for this op-ed.

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