• Cultural Practices

Diarias globales by Lorena Wolffer: Reconnecting during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic sent most of the world population to their homes. In many countries in Latin America, it seemed to stop the strength the feminist movement acquired during recent years. At the same time, levels of violence against women increased, and gender gaps grew. With this in mind, some feminists created virtual platforms to help women reconnect. In this article, Natalia Stengel Peña explores Mexican artist Lorena Wolffer’s platform Diarias global.

In 2020, the strength of the feminist movement shook Mexico. On March 8, the streets were painted purple, the colour women use to call for an end to gender-based violence. On March 9, a national strike was organised under the slogan ‘The 9th no women move’; over 22 million women stayed at home (Expansión política, 2020), stopped their daily activities showing what the country would be like without female participation. However, a few days later, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to stop the movement’s strength when it sent everyone home and prevented public gatherings. Faced with this, the Mexican artist, Lorena Wolffer, created a platform in which women could share images during the lockdown. This action of digital art allows to reconnect the feminisms that did not disappear; they were only confined.


Lorena Wolffer (Mexico City, 2020) Diarias global. twitter.com/diariasglobal

Wolffer called this project Diarias Global [Global Journals]. Even if they are mostly individual images on the site, the action of uploading a picture and sharing various realities reflects an act of sororidad. Wolffer created the platform for women worldwide to upload photographs (up to four) and share how they have lived through confinement. One of the positive effects of this action is that it could increase sororidad among women. Marcela Lagarde defined the sororidad as ‘a political pact between women’. This sorority pact is taking place outside the system, far from the institutional arrangements. The word has no translation to English, but it is similar to Kate Millet’s concept of sisterhood. It is an agreement to confront patriarchy. However, each woman copes with her from where she is. While deconstructing patriarchy is a collective action, there is a need to understand and empathise with how each women deals daily with patriarchy. In that sense, Diarias Global introduces fragments of the reality of the others; it is an invitation to seek, identify or understand the diversity of contexts in which women live.


On the other hand, Diarias Global offers a way to denounce the various violences that some face in their homes. Wolffer insists on keeping the term in the plural, violences, as there are different manifestations of violence (Cerrucha, 2020). The idea that if everyone is at home, violence decreases was never a reality for women. The most common place where a woman suffers violence in her home at the hands of her partner. During the health emergency, emergency calls for gender-based violence increased by 21.3% and 946 suspected femicides were recorded (García, 2021). However, other forms of violence and inequalities in the patriarchal system have become more visible during the health emergency. As several of the images uploaded to Diarias Global show, staying at home has meant that women must take over their jobs, household chores and childcare. The uneven effects of the pandemic between women and men have added 36 years to the time needed to reduce gender gaps (World Economic Forum, 2020). The poor distribution of household chores and the effects of gender roles are not a crime, so they cannot be officially reported. Faced with this, Darias Global allows a form of denunciation in which, in addition, one can find others going through the same situations.



Police do not protect me. ENEAS (Mexico City, 22 August 2019) Photography after the demonstration against police brutality, feminist collectives intervened the Monument for Independence. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Detalle_del_Monumento_a_la_Independencia_con_las_

Diarias Global manifests a truth shouted in various feminist protests around the world: 'the police do not protect me; my friends take care of me'. Police abuses, the lack of gender-sensitive public officials and gender-based institutional violence encourage the female population to distrust the authorities. Instead, the encounter between women fighting for rights has become a space of security and empathy. Amongst the shared images, one reflects a widely discussed issue in Mexico. The photograph shows some of the protest activities in Mexico City during November 25, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women. After feminist groups and collectives demanded that governments ensure women's safety, the government deployed a major security operation. However, the aim was not to protect women, but monuments, statues and public administration buildings. The plinth of Mexico City woke up with several areas behind barriers or black metal or wood. Female police were deployed in front of these buildings to prevent feminist groups from painting or damaging them. Of course, these fences ended up filled with women's names, victims of feminicides in Mexico. While Diarias Global is filled with images denouncing system failures, situations of abuse and violence, the authorities invest in protecting inert buildings and statues.


In conclusion, Diarias Global offers the possibility of continuing with the feminist movement even in times of pandemic. Wolffer enables a way to share images and reconnect with those who at some point protested together. It's not the first time Wolffer has created platforms where women can amplify their voices. However, like many during confinement, Lorena Wolffer had to figure out how to keep these platforms without organising gatherings. The virtual collage of images, in a way, conveys the feeling that women are not alone, and that silence is no longer an option. The pictures, still available on the platform, offer an intimate look at the sorora community that inhabits the streets and that, from virtuality, refuses to remain silent in the face of gender violence.


References


Cerrucha. (2020, 4 August). Arte: arma de construcción masiva. Entrevista a Lorena Wolffer. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDfQurzF6O1/


Expansión Política. (2021, 02 March). ‘#9M: por segundo año, organizaciones feministas convocan a un paro de mujeres’. Expansión política. https://politica.expansion.mx/sociedad/2021/03/02/9m-por-segundo-ano-organizaciones-feministas-convocan-a-un-paro-de-mujeres


García, A.K. (2021, 25 May). ‘El 2020 nos puso la desigualdad de género en la cara y es urgente actuar para erradicarla: GIRE’. El economista. https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/politica/El-2020-nos-puso-la-desigualdad-de-genero-en-la-cara-y-es-urgente-actuar-para-erradicarla-GIRE-20210525-0085.html


Lagarde, M. (2009). La política feminista de la sororidad. Mujeres en Red, el periódico feminista, 11, 1-5.


Wolffer, L. (2020). Diarias Globales. http://www.diariasglobal.com/inicio


World Economic Forum. (2021). Global Gender Gap Report 2020. https://www.weforum.org/reports/gender-gap-2020-report-100-years-pay-equality




Natalia Stengel Peña is studying a PhD in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at King’s College London. In Mexico, where she is from, she studied a B.A. in Sociology and a master’s in Modern and Contemporary Art.