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Participating in Ella 2017 – Latin American feminist encounter in Cali

What is Ella 2017?

Ella was first started in Brasil in 2014 as an initiative to discuss all sorts of topics that has to do with women and feminism in Latin America. In 2015 it was continued in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where more people joined. This year 12-15 of December in Cali, Colombia, we had the 3rd version of Ella with participants from 26 countries. A group of dedicated women and a couple of guys had organized an amazing program with many different meetings and topics. The idea behind the encounter is to connect women from all over Latin America, network, learn and get inspired. Together we are stronger than by ourselves.

HIV violence, abortion, trans issues and much more

In the program, there were so many interesting discussions to participate in. I decided to participate in the ones most relevant to the work here in Cali. The first discussion I participated in was about legal abortion. In the different Latin American countries there are different laws regarding abortion. Some more strict than others. It was definitely important an inspiring to hear how some of the girls are fighting for the right to decide about their bodies. One specific thing we could all agree on was that abortion will keep happening if it is legal or not. Therefore, the mission is to make it as secure and informed as possible while still fighting for the right to legal and secure abortions in the region.

Another very giving discussion was regarding the invisible violence that HIV positive women experience every single day in the region. It is everything from small everyday issues to even bigger violent issues. It was inspiring to hear the HIV positive young women tell their stories and discuss what could be done about the issue.

Feminism was a theme throughout the encounter making it all come together. Probably one of the discussions that made the most impression on me was about trans women in Latin America. A couple of strong and very inspiring trans women told us about their world, exclusion, dilemmas etc. I think as a society, we can learn a lot from many of them. Feminism has historically been exclusively for white cis-women, but that is ridiculous. If we cannot include everybody, no matter what sexual orientation, gender, colour etc. we will not be able to change anything. This is something these inspirational trans women really managed to emphasize.

Networking and inspiration

It has been some intense days with many very interesting and giving discussions with women from all over the region. I got to meet and connect with women who are working with similar issues in their respective countries. I am sure that some of these connections will not only be valuable during Ella 2017. We will try and keep in touch and inspire each other and work together as much as possible.

What now?

There are many battles and many different topics to keep working on. The goal is to make Latin America a better and more secure place to be a girl and woman. We will all keep up our part of the work, and we take a lot of inspiration and new knowledge with us from Ella 2017. Also we all agreed on the fact that together we are stronger. Therefore we have to make more activities together, strikes, protests etc. in collaboration all over Latin America. Myself and Mi Cuerpo/Min Krop will do ours to be part of this continuos fight here in Colombia.

- Salka


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