8M, or March 8th, is International Women's Day. On this day especially, we honor all those who are not men, who struggle, laugh, live and fight everyday for rights in a patriarchal society. Intersectional feminism is an ongoing movement that we participate in everyday, not just 8M. But nonetheless, we want to recognize this special day. And say that we support unequivocally migrant women, and those who leave homelands behind in search of a better future. Migrant rights are human rights, and Solidary Wheels sees working in migration as an integral part of feminist action.
We leave you here a recompilation of some of the ways this organization chose to celebrate 8M 2021:
Webinar, 5 March 2021:
Women, Borders and Trajectories of Justice: Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands
With interventions from Fany Errady Zarhouni (Ceuta), Pempox / Ahlam Dris (Melilla) and Koldobi Velasquez (Canary Islands)
This 1 hour webinar is posted on our youtube channel! View here:
The webinar audio is in Spanish, and as well there is sign language interpretation and both English and Spanish subtitles available. Special thanks to Elisa Floristán Millán for moderating and Carmen Serván Pulido for sign language interpretation.
Fany shared with us the political situation in Ceuta from the perspective of her family´s lived experiences. Fany also explained her fight so that her mother can come and live with her in Madrid, where they have a job offer. Fatima, Fany´s mother, is an undocumented trans-border worker, and Fany, while of Moroccan origins, has a Spanish passport and was born in Spain. However, despite having Spanish nationality, Fany has not been able to transfer legal residency to her mother. Therefore, they are both living in Ceuta at the moment, with her mother unable to cross to mainland Spain until receiving Spanish papers. Below is a testimony that Fany wrote, describing her and her mother´s experiences:
“I am a Spanish woman of Moroccan origin, I was born in the neighboring city of Castillejos and I came to Ceuta when I was 15 years old. I have my documentation in order and I have been Spanish for 4 years. The problem is that my mother is a cross-border woman who worked in Ceuta in domestic service and was never legally hired in any of the times that she worked in private homes for 18 years. After being in Ceuta for years, I went to Madrid and then I moved to Barcelona. In Barcelona I worked for 10 years as a caregiver for the elderly and then returned to Madrid, where I saw that there were more opportunities. I was working in Madrid doing several contract jobs so I had my residence in order for another 10 years after that. I have to go back to Ceuta because my mother got sick and since she hadn't contributed to social security in any of her jobs she couldn't access health care. (without a contract there is not the social security deposit, and without an empadron you cannot get a public health card) They only treated her in the emergency room, a place she then had to return to, for not having outpatient treatment.
My mother is a woman who for 18 years worked without rights. She was mistreated by her employers because she was beginning to be older and they no longer considered her useful for continuing to work. She is one of the victims of precariousness in Spain, because as a foreigner she cannot maintain a decent quality of life. Ceuta is now drowned due to the closure of the border and I want to take my mother with me to the Peninsula because now I have an opportunity to work in Madrid. But being illegal and a foreigner in this country does not allow you to be able to cross to the other side to have a good life."
Pempox shared with us her experience as a young hijabi Muslim women in Melilla, and the reactions of her classmates and school community as they began to wear the hijab in August of 2020. Pempox also reflected on what it´s like to start a career as a musician while being visibly Muslim, and how they navigate life with the hyphenated identity of being Spanish-Riffian.
“And as an artist, the truth is that, how can I say it, here in Melilla there are few female artists. It was already rare to see a woman singer, it was already rare to see a woman making music, and if you put the hijab on top of that, it's even rarer. In fact, before I put on the hijab, I looked up how many artists there were with hijab in Spain and so far there are only two of us.”
“People in my own family, for having a slightly darker skin tone, have been labelled as Moorish, in the sense of "how disgusting"; I call you Moorish because you disgust me. These are things that my little sister has said to me, that at school that she has been told.”
Pempox also shared how people have perceived her decision to wear the hijab, and how there is sometimes a perception within feminist circles that to wear the hijab is contrary to feminist ideals and an imposition from men (rather than a choice a woman can make):
“Many people thought that I would never wear the hijab, and when I did wear it, they even asked me if I had been forced to, they asked "what had gotten into me"? What had happened to me to make me wear the hijab? And although I explained that I wore it because I wanted to, because it is a choice that I can have, some people are left with that little thing, and I notice that they don't seem to take me seriously as a Muslim woman or believe that I have decided to wear this garment as my own choice. And, that at least is my personal experience, as a Muslim woman in my environment.”
Koldobi shared with us an analysis of borders and securitization of society that framed militaries and Frontex as part of a system of mili-patriarcalization. Advocating for mutual aid and co-organizing with migrant women, workers and non-binary folks, Koldobi shared a vision of transformative feminist organizing that can break down borders and forge community bonds between peoples of all geographic origins.
“All violence and all oppressions are highly interrelated. For this reason, when we do an anti-racist struggle it is also an anti-fascist struggle, an anti-capitalist struggle, it is a feminist, environmentalist, anti-militarist struggle.”
“I would say that feminisms that do not question all the inequalities we live with and all the unjust policies and laws is a feminism that is not transformative. That if feminism does not serve to propose the eradication of all forms of violence, it is not transformative either, and also that if the feminism that we take to the streets is not aimed at changing this world and moving towards justice, towards respect for our planet, towards equality, towards peace, and if we do not put the common good, the public good, the good of all, of everyone, at the centre, then it is really a feminism of posing, it is a use of feminism for make-up, so that everything stays the same. But, in my very humble opinion, I believe that there are many people and organisations that are trying to build other feminisms that are truly transformative and emancipatory. And I think that this is a really beautiful task, to continue trying to change our feminisms, our way of understanding this reality...I believe in a type of feminism that aspires, as we say, not to a piece of the cake of this system but to change the recipe, to change this way of seeing life.”
Koldobi is active in groups supporting migrants on the island of Gran Canaria. You can follow one of these groups on Twitter, or find them on instagram @noviolentasaccion
Article: Trans Rights Are Human Rights, 7 March 2021:
On the Solidary Wheels blog, one of our compañeres broke down the draft trans law in Spain, analyzing its impact on trans communities. Read more here about intersectional feminism, the draft trans rights law in Spain, and building a more inclusive world for trans migrants.
Direct Action, 8 March 2021:
Bearing a banner reading “Feministas Contra Fronteras,” (English: “Feminists Against Borders”), we, a group of non-binary and women activists, both from Melilla and from afar, demonstrated at the border fence, the port, and the beach of Melilla. We leave you below our manifesto from this 8M against borders, which explains the painful significance of these three locations in the context of Melilla:
We are feminists against borders.
We fight for a world where unjust laws do not separate families and discriminate based on place of origin.
We dream of a world without CIEs, where the goals of abolition are realized and all prisons fall.
We imagine a world where structural and everyday racism is no more and people of all skin colors, cultures and ways of being can live freely.
We ask for liberation from gender binaries and the freedom to exist far from the violence of patriarchy.
We long for reparations for colonialism and an end to euro-imperialism.
We want a world where everyone can breathe freely, find happiness and have a place to call home.
On today, 8M, an international day of commemoration for intersectional feminist struggle, we displayed our message at the border wall, the port and the sea in Melilla.
These three locations hold painful significance at Europe's #SouthernBorder.
THE WALL divides this territory of Spain from the Rif and greater Morocco, tearing a scar through the land and its people, a giant fascist extractavist structure that has constricted the lives of so many and which screams "we do not want you here" to those fleeing war, political turmoil or migrating in search of a better life. The wall is a travesty and as feminists we hope to see all walls, abstract and physical, internal and external, fall.
THE PORT is where, night after night, youth gather to do "risky," trying to escape the prison that is Melilla, in hopes of starting anew in mainland Spain or greater Europe. It is a frontier within the frontier, a place of dashed dreams, daily police beatings & injuries from the architecture of exclusion.
THE SEA, with its rolling waves and calming hue, is also a graveyard. It swallows boats loaded w/ babies, families, grandmothers and youngsters leaving everything behind. It offers new beginnings, a route to a better future and death in the same sweeping motion. The public beach in Melilla is where so many bodies have washed ashore, victims of a lack of safe and legal pathways to life in Europe.
We are feminists against borders and we honor the memory of all lives lost at the wall, the port and the sea.
Dignity & human rights for all.
Happy 8M comrades 🖤