Women Who Embroider Against Femicides: "We Turn What Was Used To Keep Us Still"

Over time, embroidery has been considered an undervalued hobby with which generations of women entertained themselves in housework, doing “women’s things.” However, in recent years women from different countries have used the same activity to claim their rights and denounce sexist violence.

In 2019, the Argentine collective Weaving Feminisms it was proposed to weave the largest feminist flag in the world to make violence against women visible in the country. “We weave together, for the ones we are here for, the ones who are not and the sisters who will come,” they said. They ended up exceeding their expectations and receiving embroidered fabrics even from other countries. The flag was present in the demonstrations that fought for the legalization of abortion, finally conquered in 2020.


In Montevideo, this year, the balconies have been filled with feminist messages with the fabrics made by the women of the Union of the Aguja de Uruguay, as part of the actions for 8M. And Spain has not been left behind either, with the Valencian association Spinning Lives using collaborative art to make visible and vindicate the value of women, especially in rural areas.

One of the groups that has been creating feminist embroidery for a decade is Embroidering Femicides. This initiative arose in Mexico during the six-year term (2006-2012) of President Felipe Calderón. As the coordinator of the project, Minerva Valenzuela, explains, at that time it was happening in the country “he called it the war against drugs, where many people were murdered and disappeared.”

Valenzuela s ays that it was there when embroidery groups emerged to embroider the cases of murders and disappearances. “Some of us participated in those groups and we realized that there were cases that were being embroidered that were femicides but that they were not being seen as such,” he says. Hence the idea of ​​separating those that had been femicides from those that had not, “all the deaths of the Felipe Calderón Administration were tragic but it is different, they kill us differently than men than women.”

At first, the objective of the project was to show the femicides that occurred within the “misnamed” war against drugs, but, explains Valenzuela, that has changed according to the moment Mexico is going through and according to the personal objectives of the embroiderers. The coordinator of the group tells how there are embroiderers whose objective is merely to denounce, others seek to be close to more women who embroider, and others to get closer to being able to talk about violence and what is said to be love. “For many it is a first approach about what violence is, what they have told us love is and why would I have to take care of someone who tells me they love me”.

According to her account, there have been women who, after seeing the embroidery on display, which tells how men treated women they later murdered, have realized that they are in a dangerous situation. He also mentions cases of small boys and girls who cannot read and ask their mothers what the embroidery says. “That is a very particular situation and they will have to have some conversation later. [con sus hijos] about why they killed her, “says Valenzuela.

It is estimated that 10 women are murdered every 24 hours in Mexico, according to statistics provided by UN Women. The most extreme manifestation of violence against women, femicide, “is only the tip of the iceberg of an even bigger problem in the country”, where 66% of women have suffered at least one incident of emotional, economic, or social violence. physical, sexual or discrimination throughout his life, according to the Mexican branch of the body.

The coordinator of Bordando Feminismos does not consider weaving itself to be a feminist act. “There is no implicit relationship between embroidery and feminism, there may be feminicide embroiderers who are not feminists.” But for her this initiative does manage to “turn around an activity that has historically been used for women to be quiet and doing women’s things, such as flowers, tablecloths, things for your family.” Women remained like this in the domestic sphere, “not being seen, not being public.”

“Embroidering a femicide turns this idea around because we are using the same activity with which our grandmothers were probably punished but to denounce, express or meet other women,” says Valenzuela. “I don’t know if she is a feminist, but she is quite daring.”

In addition, he emphasizes that the act of embroidery “is a lot like life.” “We give the woman we are embroidering a physical space that was taken from her, time, which was taken from her, and color, which was taken from her.”

Ten years after the project began, the coordinator says that “fortunately” she is not aware of its full impact. For example, she indicates, she cannot tell how a mother felt when she saw an embroidery on her daughter. But, for her, the greatest achievement is maintaining contact between the women “who are still alive.” “Are getting closer [al colectivo] very diverse women. And, probably, in other kinds of circumstances, those kinds of women would not be together. “



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