In Seville, Spain, on March 8, 2018, a group of more than 100,000 people takes to the streets to march for International Women’s Day. Within this crowd are three women from three different generations who share stories about their experiences with gender discrimination, their plights, and their ideas on how to win this battle with male-dominated society and get the equality they deserve.
In Plaza Nueva in Seville at sunset, surrounded by dozens of palm trees that give the feeling of a much warmer evening than the one at hand, thousands of people, young and old, walk carrying hand-painted signs. The clouds obscure the sunlight, and although it is almost spring, there is a chill in the air; many people wear coats and jackets, wool scarves, and hats. There are fathers and mothers who are pushing their children in wagons or strollers, smiling simply because it is a day in which the entire family is together, and the cause of their union is an important one. The crowd advances toward La Alameda de Hércules slowly, but surely.
Today is March 8, 2018, a Thursday, returned to their houses to rest after this long day. Together, they have come out to accompany the almost 100,000 people who gather in the square, ready to march for International Women’s Day.
Celia Arcos, 22, is with her friends, her sister, and her dog. She doesn’t have a sign in hand, but she is looking at the spectacle in front of her through her favorite lens —her camera’s.
During the protest, Celia is in the heart of the people, taking photos of the elderly, young people, women, and men, who represent the full LGBTQ spectrum, are parents, grandparents, people who have never been to a march before today, and those who frequent them. With her eye for detail, Celia captures the diversity of the celebration dedicated to all women, all over the world.
“There is a very festive and welcoming atmosphere here,” explains Celia, with a small smile on her lips. “The amount of people surprised me. And it is beautiful.”
Also in the crowd, Marta Aguilar Adame, 42, marches with her coworkers, her friends, and her family. For her, the march is the beginning of something much bigger — a revolution.
Marta is a journalism and social justice professor, an activist, and a seasoned journalist. This protest is not her first, nor will it be her last. But, despite her experience — and she has quite a bit — this march is different in a radical way. “There are girls, very old women, immigrant women, lesbian women, women without attachments, women who are caretakers, women of all kinds,” Marta comments, while slowly shaking her head at the incredulity of this display. “And all of these women have come together for the same cause.”
Carrying her own sign, Marta moves forward, enjoying the demonstration of power, of sisterhood, and of love evident in the streets of Seville. While the distance between Plaza Nueva and La Alameda de Hercules is a little more than three kilometers, or about a 13-minute walk, the celebration of unity lasts the entire night, ending only in the early hours of the next morning.
In the middle of the crowd, though not for the entire night — her schedule does not allow it — is Rosa Guridi, 71, holding the hand of her granddaughter. They both look around while other marchers dance, sing, and cry out happily. Rosa is a veteran marcher and an honest but gentle advocate for women’s rights. For her, the word “feminist” does not mean anything radical; it only means that women are human beings, just like men.
Rosa grew up in Spain, living under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Because of this, she has memories of a time in which women had to ask for permission from their fathers or their husbands to do things like open a bank account, have a passport or a job — a time in which women had fewer rights than the women of today. Due to this, the march has double significance: it is a march for the women of today, and also for the women of the past, those who did not live to see this day in which so many women are out in the streets, celebrating their rights, and fighting for more.
Celia, Marta, and Rosa are fighting for equal treatment for women in all sectors, both private and public, in which men are dominant.
“It’s a sense of superiority, and a lack of empathy,” explains Celia, the frustration evident in her face. She pushes away a lock of dark hair, revealing a youthful face. Nevertheless, when she speaks, she does so with the gravity and inflection of someone much older, especially while talking about something that directly impacts her life. “There is not a woman in this world who is immune.”
One of the aspects of the patriarchy prevalent in Spain and across the world is that of machismo and the micromagressions called micromachismos that coincide with this phenomenon. According to Marta, micromachismos are acts that are not immediately apparent — like gender violence or blatant discrimination — but nonetheless are ways in which many men demonstrate their perceived superiority over women. Rosa believes micromachismos are a serious problem for women because, while they aren’t obvious acts, they occur on a daily basis and can influence the perception women have of themselves and of their worth.
“The problems are different if they affect, for example, a farm girl. It all depends on the place where you’re born,” explains Celia. “I have a lot more rights because I am a student who lives in the city, but some women can’t even leave their houses without permission. So we have to think about the nuances of these situations.”
This fight will not end when all the marchers go home at the end of the night — it will continue until there is equality between men and women. In regards to the next steps to achieve this, these three women have some ideas.
“We can ask for an equality pledge that ensures politicians follow through with the promise of parity in positions of power and in labor and social rights,” suggests Marta with a glint of passion in her eyes, knowing there are so many problems in this world and so little time to resolve them. “But, it is necessary that women breakthrough the male leadership and reclaim their space in society.”
Celia, on the other hand, adopts a much gentler strategy. For her, a way in which the girls of today can know their worth is through talking to the previous generations of women. “Grandmothers were born in a totally different time, and it’s important to think about these differences, both the good and bad, and to know that our generation is not the only one. Our grandmothers have experience and can teach us so much.”
Rosa, a grandmother herself, agrees with this plan of action. “We are involved in the lives of our granddaughters to teach them and to help them. Feminism might seem like a new concept, but to me, a feminist is simply a woman, because it is our responsibility to defend the rights of other women.”
Celia, Marta, and Rosa agree on one thing: this fight should be led by women, for women. “I think this fight is not only for women, but also for all of society,” explains Marta. “And if we want to win this war, we have to be the leaders. Now is not the time to be timid.”