By Sarah Lander
Ecuador is a progressive and politically engaged country, with many social justice movements taking place all over the nation every year. Compared to its Latin American counterparts, Ecuador has a significantly higher rate of political action from women, and a higher rate of social movements run for and by women or with women involvement. The 2008 Constitution includes many amendments to the gender gap (among other issues) that exists in the nation at both the societal and political level. Several civil groups have organized to fight for women’s rights and freedoms in the country over time. Many of the major protests and social movements in Ecuador, even if not directly for women’s rights, hold substantial weight for the status of women in Ecuador today. Indigenous people, particularly indigenous women have played a significant role in social movements over the years.
Although not to discredit smaller movements, there will be a focus on larger key women’s movements which have brought Ecuador to the place it sits at currently in terms of gender equality and recognition. Women’s movements in Ecuador stem from all walks of life, representing the immense diversity within the nation. The overall women’s movement in Ecuador is comprised of several small and large women’s groups from all different facets of society throughout history. Each group, regardless of size, has made a significant difference for the future of Ecuador. It is important to note though, that although groups have mobilized from every region and every socioeconomic background, not all voices are being heard equally as some face more inherent challenges than others.
Ecuador was the first country in the region to allow for women to vote in 1929, putting it ahead of its regional counterparts in terms of progressive policies surrounding gender equality. Following this, several women’s groups congregated and fight for issues ranging from political representation to harsh gender roles, abortion access, the oil industry and more. The Glorious May Revolution was a significant turning point in feminist history in Ecuador. This was when the people of Ecuador successfully overthrew their government in a time when fascism was the global norm. Ecuador’s resilience was due in large part to the many feminist activists who refused to back down. A notable feminist from this movement and in Ecuador’s feminist movement in general is ‘Dolores Cacuango’ or ‘Mama Doloreyuk’. Cacuango was a major part of the 1944 May Revolution and created the Indigenous Federation of Ecuador.
There have been several protests led by indigenous women throughout Ecuador’s history. These movements hold particular importance as we attempt to navigate a world where these voices often get left behind. Most recently, on October 12th 2019 during a nationwide lockdown, several peaceful anti-state violence protests erupted, mainly led and organized by indigenous women. This women’s movement was a part of a larger protest against harsh austerity measures in the nation. This movement continues today and is incredibly powerful given that it was largely led by afro-indigenous Ecuadorian women whose voices are often unheard. Social movements led by women persist in Ecuador and have made great strides toward a more egalitarian society through peaceful means. The women’s movement in Ecuador attempts to oppose and calls out years of harmful residual practices leftover from colonialism and beyond.
Amor, Bani. “What Ecuador’s Feminist History Can Teach Us All” 2017. Teen Vogue. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-ecuadors-feminist-history-can-teach-us-all
“Ecuador Unrest: Amazonian Women denounce ‘state violence’” Al Jazeera. 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2019/10/12/ecuador-unrest-amazonian-women-denounce-state-violence/
“Helping Advance Women’s Political Rights in Ecuador” 2020. UNDPPA. http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/03/helping-advance-womens-political-rights-ecuador/
Paley, Dawn Marie. “Women Rise Against Violence in Ecuador” 2020. Toward Freedom. https://towardfreedom.org/story/women-rise-against-violence-in-ecuador/
Poor, Hannah. “The Historical and Contemporary Role of Women in Ecuadorian Society”. Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Brown University. https://library.brown.edu/create/modernlatinamerica/chapters/chapter-15-culture-and-society/essays-on-culture-and-society/the-historical-and-contemporary-role-of-women-in-ecuadorian-society/
“The Life of Dolores Cacuango and her Struggle for Justice” 25 October 2018. Telsur. https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/The-Life-of-Dolores-Cacuango-And-Her-Struggle-For-Justice--20181025-0029.html