Hondurans mobilized for the National Day of Honduran Women and to protest against the government, which has been accused electoral fraud, on Thursday. January 25th marks Honduran Women’s Day — commemorating the day in 1955 when Honduran women won the right to vote and engage in political activity in the country.
Every year Honduran women gather to march together in a festive and rebellious act to demand concrete measures to counter the rising number of femicides in the country, economic policies and to ease the burden of poverty that many women in Honduras face.
This year, however, the march for the National Day of Honduran Women coincided with a protest against the "fraudulent" re-election of Juan Orlando Hernandez, JOH, organized by the Opposition Alliance. Women have played an essential role in the 2-month-long demonstrations against Hernandez's re-election.
A public statement by over 20 women's rights organizations published Thursday condemned violence against women and state's inaction. According to them, 5,605 women have been murdered between 2003 and 2017, and the impunity rate for femicide and sexual violence cases exceeds 95 percent, an alarming figure. The group also continues to condemn the laws against women in Honduras, including the criminalization of abortion, under which women can face up to six years in prison.
The women's movement announced their political agenda last November. The issues it raises for policymakers include violence and femicide, the feminization of poverty, institutionality and budgets for programs for women, a non-sexist education system, reproductive health, political participation, and indigenous rights.
According to feminist organizations, gender inequality and the subordination of women also manifests itself in disparities between men and women in political life. For example, female legislators account for only 21 percent of total legislators while female mayors account for only 7 percent.
Women organizations demanded Thursday that "military and police forces stop repression against the women who demonstrate against the political crisis." In an individual statement, one of the organizations rejected "the acts of barbarism, repression, and violence committed by the fascist dictatorship against the people who peacefully protest the electoral fraud perpetrated by the religious, political and economic elites."
Since the contested presidential elections of November 2017 massive demonstrations have been organized, against what many Hondurans see as a violation of their right to freely elect their leaders. Since the protests began, at least 30 people have been killed, and hundreds have sustained injuries.
Earlier this month United Nations spokesperson Elizabeth Throsell urged the Honduran government, led by Hernandez, to adhere to international human rights law in policing demonstrations against electoral fraud planned for this weekend. Throsell confirmed "we have verified information that 13 of these deaths were at the hands of security forces," and reiterated a call on the Honduran authorities to "avoid using the military police and the armed forces to police demonstrations."