Big Women’s Day marches are peaceful across the country as labor unions plan March 14 protests

Mar 9, 2023 | 11 comments

The largest International Women’s Day protest marches in the event’s history came off peacefully Wednesday in Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil and other major cities. The number of marchers was bolstered by indigenous and labor organizations that pledged solidarity with women but also demanded the ouster of President Guillermo Lasso.

In Quito, there was no repeat of incidents in the 2022 march in which police used tear gas against protesters in the historic district. On Tuesday, the police command announced there would be no police presence at the march.

Part of the International Women’s Day protest in Cuenca on Wednesday. (El Mercurio)

In Cuenca an estimated one thousand protesters marched up Calle Simon Bolivar, many carrying signs demanded an end to the Lasso presidency.

In addition to demanding equality for women, Women’s Day organizers also expressed their support for the dismissal of Lasso. “First we want the oppression and violence against women to end but we also insist that the president leave office,” said media director Caroline Ávila. “The government has been unresponsive to our needs and has cut budgets related to promoting women’s rights and stopping violence. It is time for Lasso to go.”

Ávila thanked the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) and the United Workers Front (FUT) for joining the marches. “They are our brothers and sisters and we welcome their support and the fact that they bolstered our numbers. We will support them in return when they take to the streets in the coming weeks and months.”

Marcela Arellano, FUT president, said workers would “always be on the side of women’s rights,” claiming that only 27% of Ecuador’s working women have adequate employment. “This is a fight that must continue until fairness is achieved.”

On Monday, FUT announced it would begin a “permanent mobilization” against the government on March 14. In a statement, it listed its top issues as the Social Security pension and health care programs, corruption, legal protections for labor unions and public education. “Nothing has been done about these things,” Arellano said. “IESS is in a shambles with no plan to fix it and budgets have been cut for education. We will also demand that protections be increased for the workers of Ecuador.”

On Wednesday, the National Union of Educators (UNE) announced it will join the FUT protests in major cities.

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