In considering the development of individual rights, especially anti-discrimination laws, we have to also look towards the social movements that reinforce these laws or in some case dismantle them. On July 28th, I attended a panel presentation on Afro-Ecuadorian feminism hosted by FLACSO University’s Women and Gender Studies program. The panel consisted of two presenters Olivia Cortez and Sonia Viveros. Olivia Cortez is a professor at San Fransisco University and well-established leader & consultant among women’s organizations in Quito y Guayaquil. The second presenter, Sonia Viveros, is a professor at the University of Guayaquil. Francia Jenny Moreno, a graduate student from the Women and Gender Studies department, moderated the panel. The event was to serve as a space of reflection and analysis on the status of what is black or Afro-Ecuadorian feminism, and whether it can be considered a movement here in Ecuador.
Both presenters began their speech by identifying as Black women and asserting the value of that statement over other terms like mulata or Afro-descendant which serve to dissimulate and distance women from their blackness. They each affirmed that black women’s issues include the issues that are most commonly associated with feminism, such as sexual and reproductive freedom, and then when on to expose how racism and questions of poor women’s basic survival need to be more thoroughly incorporated into the mainstream feminist agenda. Black women have participated in a number of struggles in the coast, urban regions, and rural outskirts and have held leadership positions in these struggles, yet often find issues specific to Afro-Ecuadorian women unmentioned. Olivia Cortez spoke of the influence of black feminists in the US as a prime influence for her political development as a black feminist in Ecuador.
Claudia Garriga-Lopez PhD Candidate in American Studies Dept. of Social and Cultural Analysis of New York University