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Carolina och Madeleine från RFSU står framför en banderoll som det står 15 EFLAC på och håller upp sina nävar.

RFSU was present when Latin American feminists finally reunited

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, 1,500 Latin American feminists were able to have a meeting and plan together. What were the key issues and what could be agreed? RFSU was there and can now report.

At the end of last year, the big feminist conference EFLAC took place in El Salvador. Latin American activists gathered for the first time since COVID-19 to share knowledge and discuss plans. Among the 1,500 participants were Carolina Poggio and Madeleine Karlsson, International Programme Managers for Latin America at RFSU.

"After a six-year gap, urgent conversations, context analysis, insights, and strategies were needed. One notable aspect of this year's conference was the large representation of young participants and LGBTQI community members", says Carolina.

A more transgender-inclusive conference 

Historically, the feminist movement in Latin America has been divided between those who accept transgender people as belonging to the movement and those who do not. Slowly but surely, however, the prejudices have begun to break down and the level of acceptance has increased.

"It has been recognised that despite our different identities, we have a lot in common. We all have a body and we all face patriarchal oppression."


Anti-racism, climate and backlash on SRHR 

Some of the key themes discussed during the conference were the following: 

  • Democracy. The conference reached a common position to work within the democratic structures that exist in the countries, even in cases where these might be problematic. 
    Democracy within feminism was also discussed, and it was self-critically noted that feminism has been good at fighting for abortion rights in South America, for example, but not so good at including everyone in the debate. The voices of rural women in Central America also need to be heard.
  • The climate. This issue is mainly about indigenous land rights and protests against governments and big business. Is it a good thing to integrate a feminist perspective into the environmental movement, so-called eco-feminism, or should the issues be kept separate? For the younger participants, cooperation between the two movements is a given. The older participants worried that the different movements might cancel each other off.
  • Anti-racism. Many indigenous people in countries such as Haiti, Peru and Guatemala feel that their interpretation of feminism is invisible. There may be cultural aspects that prevent girls from having self-determination, such as for a Mayan Indian. Finding ways to combat poverty may be more important than taking to the streets and demonstrating for a change in abortion laws.
  • Opposition to sexual and reproductive rights. Conference participants agreed that there is a strong backlash against sex education. In Mexico, sex education is part of the school curriculum, but it is still not implemented everywhere. Meanwhile, in several countries, the extreme right has managed to introduce other themes into sexuality education, such as abstinence and saying that women are responsible for not getting pregnant. In Argentina, where the content of sex education is very good, the new government has announced that it will no longer be compulsory. What took ten years to achieve took less than a year to remove.

Feminism a transnational movement

Despite the setbacks and the heavy topics of discussion, both Carolina Poggio and Madeleine Karlsson felt very uplifted after the conference.

"It was impossible not to be affected by the incredible power and force that the feminists carry. While there are various subgroups within the movement, there is also a strong sense of unity among countries in the region and between different factions", says Madeleine.

"Feminism has become a transnational movement. It is the most attacked movement in terms of politics, religion and culture. But it represents a radical change for many people and a new distribution of power that favours liberal values. Many young activists think constructively. This is incredibly encouraging," says Carolina.

The next EFLAC will be held in Haiti in 2026.

The film below captures the strong spirit of the conference: