(13th March 2017)
Mabel Bianco, President of FEIM and co-President of the Committee of NGOs on the Condition of Women of Latin America and the Caribbean (CoNGO CSW LAC), was honoured with the Woman of Distinction of the Year award. The award was given by the Committee of NGOs on the Condition of Women of New York (CoNGO CSW NY) “in recognition of her leadership in the fight for gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
On the 12th of March, the CoNGO CSW NY announced the award of distinction during the “NGO Consultation Day,” which traditionally takes place on the Sunday preceding the beginning of the CSW sessions. Bianco was the key speaker at the event and began her speech by expressing her gratitude for the distinction: “I am honoured and proud because I receive this award as recognition of all of the feminists of Latin America and the Caribbean and their years-long struggle.”
The Committee of NGOs CSW-NY considered that, “Dr. Mabel Bianco is an activist for the rights of women in Latin America and the world. She has introduced policies to save women’s lives, particularly related to breast cancer, violence against women, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive rights. Her work has built a stronger feminist movement in Latin America. Bianco’s work is transversal, encompassing medicine, public health, policymaking, the creation of feminist networks, and the gender reform of the UN.”
Bianco commemorated the Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, who was killed last year, and stated: “there are now many more women who died defending women’s rights all over the world. The most recent occurrence being the terrible killing of the teenage girls living in a shelter in Guatemala who were there to be looked after, who on the 8th of March were driven to report the sexual abuse they suffered and who protested against this. 39 girls burned to death. We don’t want any more dead girls,” she stressed.
“In order to reach equality we need, as already said by Phumzile (Mlambo-Ngcuka, Director of UN Women), for girls to receive an education. And I add to this, that they must also receive an integral sexual education; that way gender stereotypes get destroyed. Because sexual education is not there to encourage genitality, but instead to change the pattern of femininity and masculinity,” explained Bianco.
Then, the President of FEIM referred to Latin America as “that forgotten region where women increased access to work, but where 78 percent do so in unstable, unsafe and underpaid jobs.” She remarked, “Unpaid care work falls principally on women and for this reason we need not only laws, but also cultural changed, as the ambassador (Antonio) Patriota (from Brazil) has already said, and laws help to do this but by themselves they are not enough.”
As the 61st session of the CSW in the UN began, Bianco alerted the activists: “We as feminists in Latin America and the Caribbean must know that the conclusions of these international meetings allow us to subsequently monitor in these countries if the government is achieving what has been promised here, so that the words of these agreements are a reality for all women.”
“This CSW will be very difficult because the political context is hardly interested in human rights, and even less so in women’s rights. For this reason we need to be more united and secure alliances,” sustained the President of FEIM. “In Latin America and the Caribbean,” she acknowledged, “we have good allies in many countries and in ambassadors such as Ambassador Patriota from Brazil and Ambassador (Martín) García Moritán from Argentina, here with us today, and many more, but we must fight so that the document of agreed conclusions does not have setbacks and so that we can achieve progress.”
“For this reason, I invite you all to continue fighting more strongly,” she concluded.