Three-way conversations on community feminism in Guerrero

Received: October 22, 2018

Acceptance: August 29, 2019

It has been a long time since in our Abya Yala territories and elsewhere, women who have fought against the patriarchy that oppresses us were seen as uncomfortable for the system. Our grandmothers not only resisted, but also proposed and made their lives and bodies dangerous autonomies for the patriarchal Incas and Mallkus. They did not write books, but they wrote in everyday life that today we can intuit about what remains after so many colonial invasions. Open eyes that can no longer be closed because it would be disloyalty to ourselves, to our sisters and our ancestors.

Julieta Paredes and the Community of Women Creating Community (2014: 37).

From Bolivian lands, the proposal of community feminism put forward by Julieta Paredes and the Community of Women Creating Community (2014)1 has been spreading and finding resonances in multiple groups, in organizational processes of women not only in indigenous, rural or community settings, but also in urban and popular reflection groups, of students and researchers, and in general within various sectors. who, in dialogue with this proposal, recognize themselves as community feminists. One of the places where it has found an echo is in the state of Guerrero, in southern Mexico. From the regions of the Mountain, the Costa Chica and the Central area, indigenous and Afro-Mexican women have started to call themselves “community feminists” for several years. On various occasions they have been able to share spaces for reflection with Julieta Paredes in their communities, articulating this dialogue with their own searches, local organizational processes and collective constructions on the role of women in the community spaces of which they are part.

The Costa Chica de Guerrero is a region full of stories of struggle and community organizing processes for many decades. In addition to the guerrilla conflicts of the 60s, led by Genaro Vásquez, later experiences of coffee producing organizations, the Community Police, together with the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (crack), and more recently the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (upoeg). Women have been a fundamental part of these movements, building both within mixed organizations and in their own spaces for reflection and strengthening. Among others, the network of justice promoters and the regional coordinators within the Community Police, the House of Indigenous Women Nellys Palomo (cami), the participants in the women's working groups in the meetings of the crack, and more recently the network of community feminists that has a presence in the Coast, the Mountain and the Central region of the state of Guerrero.

For many years I have worked in some municipalities of the Costa Chica promoting issues of sexual and reproductive health, gender and women's rights, and also accompanying some organizational processes of midwives and health promoters in the region, from a dual role as activist and academic. This has allowed me to observe many of these local processes in which women Na Saavi, Me'phaa, Ñomndaá and Afro-Mexican women have been actively linked, promoting the participation of women in traditional community spaces, always with great force, but at the same time facing difficulties in opening these new gaps.

In July 2018, while doing field work in the Costa Chica-Montaña de Guerrero, one of the Me'phaa, member of the cami, organization with which she was, invited me to accompany her to a meeting of the community feminists of Guerrero, to be held in another nearby municipality. I was delighted with the invitation, because although I had heard a lot about “those of community feminism” as they are sometimes named by the comrades of the region, only once had we managed to agree, and I was extremely curious to know a little more about them, since several of the fellow leaders and health promoters with whom I collaborate had previously participated in various spaces organized by this group of feminists.

Throughout the days that the meeting lasted, my deep appreciation for the work they do could only grow, and I gradually looked at the complexity of their stories in each region. In the reconstruction of their routes, there were moments of important achievements that they had collectively had, spaces of force when they got together from time to time, moments of tension in which they had experienced questions or open rejection on the part of their communities and other feminist groups; stories told to many voices about the outreach materials they had produced to share their thinking. The voices of younger women who were their own daughters also emerged and narrated in their words what community feminism was meaning to them. All this was woven during two days, placing the word next to the sea, guaranteeing areas of collective care for the young sons and daughters who accompanied them, fostering spaces of care for each other at night, including that of therapeutic laughter.

Upon returning to our place, after the meeting ended, we spoke with two colleagues from the Mountain region who had been present about what it meant in their experience as indigenous women from Guerrero to be community feminists. In the middle of a morning coffee full of many laughs, questions, answers and joint reflections were woven about what this meant.

Below are some fragments of that dialogue between two women Me'phaa, community feminists from the Guerrero mountain, and a feminist anthropologist interested in better understanding this proposal. Tranquilina Morales, community health promoter, member of the Nellys Palomo Indigenous Women's House, and currently a midwifery student at the professional midwifery school in Tlapa, along with María del Carmen Mejía, a teacher for several years in an elementary school in the region, and both local leaders, are the protagonists of this interview. It is not about “the spokespersons” or an “official” position on what community feminism is, but rather what this proposal means for them in their lives and how it relates to their own identity.

"Women are half of each town." Thinking about community feminism ...

This phrase that begins the book of Spinning fine (Walls et al., 2014), was pronounced on multiple occasions by the participants in the meeting. It stood out as one of the key points of confluence between what Bolivia proposes as a political commitment to community feminism, and its experience of struggle in the space of each people so that it is recognized. The question that started our conversation was precisely that: What is community feminism for you?

Carmen: In particular, for me, community feminism is working with men and with women, where there is equity, because sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes as women we say: "we are the same." No, we are equal with no one, and we must be equitable, there must be equity to be able to help us, both men and women help us. Because sometimes as women we complain and say: it is that the man is an abuser, that the man hits, that he is violent; But what I like about here is that we can be fair and we can help each other, men and women. Community feminism is working as a team all: men, women, children, adolescents, and teaching children not how they have to be, but how they have to do; that they are different things, because how do you want to do it, because the decision is in them, but we are doing our little job of working with them. Community feminism is working as a team, rescuing what we have, rescuing what our grandmothers have taught us. For example, as Tlapanecas, we have many traditions; Nobody wears our wardrobe anymore, and that is something I would like: to wear our dress again.

Calm: For me, community feminism is a space where we women meet and talk about what we live, that is, it is a space where you vent, where they actually listen to you and share feelings, share emotions, feel. For example, with other women who have participated, I have realized that we have so many things that we cannot take out at home, because we are always in the house, or we have other things to do, but we never talk about “look, I need this ”,“ I feel bad ”,“ this is happening to me ”; So as there are no such spaces, and in this feminism yes, because we listen to each other, we talk about how are you? How is your heart? Do you feel good or what is happening? And well, this is a space to open our feelings, of opening our hearts and knowing that we are not alone, because we are from different regions and we all live in different moments, but knowing that there are other companions and that they are moving forward, that also gives you encouragement. "Ah, well, that's happening to you, but cheer up"; and when you know that, you realize that not only you suffer and then you can see in another way: "oh then I can also make you want to, because we have heard much stronger stories, and yes it hurts." For me, community feminism is like brotherhood, and we always call ourselves “sisters”; It is not because we are against men, but rather to walk together, neither more nor less, but rather to walk together shoulder to shoulder. That is the way, because they have always told us: “it is that they are feminists, feminazis”, as well as a bad concept, but we are community feminists and we are not against men, on the contrary, we must be twinned with them, because This is the reason for life, only women, no; Only men, neither, and so both they and we have to walk shoulder to shoulder and teach the young people, the children, the grandchildren, who they come. For me that is community feminism, it is a space for listening.

Lina.: It seems that there is a very important emotional and affective dimension in the way you value or construct these spaces of community feminism.

T.: Yes, here in the mountains most of us have seen ourselves as quiet; when we meet those in the center and the coast, they are more open, but it also has to do with our context, because here in the mountains there is still a lot of “don't do this, don't do that”; But for example those of the Coast, since they are already a little more liberated, then they are like that, but that does not mean that they are advanced and we are behind, but that each one in their context is catching the wave, and that It makes us twin, because somehow they also experience violence, the fact that they defend themselves and everything, but they are also women and they experience violence, they experience abuse and it is complicated, but when we are together we say: “Yes we can!”. So this is how the situation is, yes it is complicated, but when we are all together we say “yes we can”, from where we are, yes we can! And we have to continue in this of continuing to listen to each other.

L.: In Julieta Paredes' proposal and in what you mentioned in the meeting, great importance was given to the fact that women are half of everything. In this region there have been community systems for a long time and women have always been part of the community systems; there have been women leaders in these systems. What do they propose from community feminism, acknowledging that history but at the same time building another? Would the view be in any way different from community feminism?

C.: Yes it is true, there has been the participation of women, but one or two; the men keep them silent, and when a woman hears that they are speaking ill of her, she refuses to continue attending. How to get several women to attend? there comes the work of talking with men; Those of us who are living community feminism have to talk with our brothers, with our parents, with our uncles. The family itself says: "daughter, but they are not going to let you participate there, I alone cannot defend you." Sure, but there are several of us and then what we do is work at home, do other activities such as ointments and so on, and we talk with women how we should not allow ourselves to be violated, we are too intelligent, that we must look for different ways of walking, and that's it. They can participate without fear, and it is that part that we are working on, doing things without creating conflict, and that is also what Acatlán is doing.2 We have started from home, growing little by little; Before it was me alone, and now in the town those who went and those who stayed ... we are already a lot.

Walking the steps

When they remember the path they have traveled, they take stock of the companions they have promoted and important moments in their history.

T.: This story has also been a great contribution, a lot of help from the companions of the Ecumenical Center (EC), because there was no financing to begin with; Long before it has been the CE, which sought resources and organized us: “Let's see, colleagues from the mountain, we are going to attend a workshop; or what do you think, we do it in the cami ”,3 And that's how we were getting organized: that comrades from the Center will come, comrades from Costa. As they are very involved in community organizations, they are looking for women who have been at the forefront of a struggle, and also the compas of the EC They have put that that we must not judge, that we must listen to each other, because we have all been women, we have all been discriminated against and all those things on the woman's body relapse.

Above all, for us what Julieta Paredes has taught us has been very important; she is our inspiration in our journey, because through her that has been seen; What she says here we do, only perhaps we have not given it the name that is community feminism, because the women's struggles were already there, and Julieta Paredes came to tell us: "You are already doing it, keep doing it!" , and that is why we follow that path; So we just needed someone to come and tell us that it was something we were already doing.

L.: How is this community feminism read in the communities? Because at the same time that they said that Julieta has given them strength, when they have gone to communities like Cruz Grande or Ayutla, some people also read it as a threat, or as something that can be very confrontational. How do they move in that tension?

T.: Many say and have told us: “why feminism? Why aren't women fighting? Because feminism sounds very ugly, very against men ”. And they were scared by the name, they are scared, but what we tell them is that we do not want to kill men, but on the contrary, we see that men are very important, and then we cannot live without them. Men and men cannot live without women, and in this feminism we are not going against them, and some, not all, get scared and say: "why don't they change their name?" And we say that feminism is the name, but also that of women's struggles has been before and in all communities it has been very difficult for a woman to be there making decisions, because she is always attacked, sometimes by the same women, that if a single mother attends the assemblies and they give her a position, then they themselves are there gossiping that she will not do anything at the police station but that she is going to be happy, that she is going to be a lover with those who they are there. That is very strong, how we women classify the others, and it is a challenge in the community because it is not easy, but it is always to start it that way little by little.

L.: You are in a space in which, on the one hand, you are looked at with reserve at the community level and at the same time, from other feminisms, you have also felt questioned ...

C.: Yes, some people tell us why do we work that way, or why do we work in equity or with men. But ... who makes men violent? If I don't let him participate, that also at the time when my daughter makes a mistake, I call his attention, but he also has to do it. If I do not allow him to participate, then I am also taking away a right. It is about giving ourselves permission that the other person also has to support in that part. But that doubt came to us to think: are we doing it very badly? We talked about it with our colleagues and they told us: they are not doing badly, they are doing their work well, they are doing their walk well, only that they (other feminist organizations), as they have something more grounded, more organized, and how we accompany them in the marches in Chilpancingo took part, but not the whole essence of who we are. If you take only one part of what is community feminism, you are not working with community feminism, because in reality you only took what interested you, and by taking what interested you you make the other person look bad, because it seems to be the same, But this is not the case, because we make this walk also inclusive of men. If our parents were violent with us, we must not let our husbands be violent against us, but look for that way of how we can work. There is a part that we like about community feminism and that is that they teach us to be good human beings.

Dialogues and disagreements with other feminisms

Feminism is the struggle and the political life proposal of any woman anywhere in the world, at any stage in history that has rebelled against the patriarchy that oppresses her. This definition allows us to recognize ourselves as the daughters and granddaughters of our own rebellious and anti-patriarchal Aymara, Quechua and Guarani great-great-great-grandmothers. It also places us as sisters of other feminists in the world and positions us politically against hegemonic Western feminism.

Julieta Paredes and the Community of Women Creating Community (2014: 76)

Julieta Paredes makes strong questions about liberal feminism and raises an epistemological break between said feminism and community feminism. The second chapter of Spinning fine points out a number of differences with Western feminism, appealing to the complementary pair of community feminism.

In the West, feminism meant for women to position themselves as individuals before men. We are referring to the two great aspects of feminism, that of equality and that of difference; that is, a woman is the same as a man, or a woman different from a man, but this cannot be understood within our ways of life here in Bolivia, with strong community conceptions, that is why we have proposed as Bolivian feminists to make our own feminism, to think of ourselves as starting from the reality in which we live. We do not want to think of ourselves in relation to men, but rather to think of ourselves as women and men in relation to the community.

Julieta Paredes and the Community of Women Creating Community (2014: 79)

L.: You have talked about the routes, the dialogues, the tensions. In what ways would they coincide with other feminisms and how would they differ? For community feminism it is very important to work hand in hand with men. On what other issues do they coincide with other feminisms?

C.: In that women should be respected, in that we agree with her; that there should be no such thing as girls being raped or murdered, in that we are 100 percent in supporting women. We are with them in continuing to support, but not in insults, although sometimes some are needed. I believe that we coincide in the struggle of women.

We started not knowing how to do things, but little by little, but other feminists questioned us or made us look ugly, and that's when we as partners said: "oh, well this happened", and since then we decided that what is done in community feminism that is not published as much, because other feminists began to use our work and then asked for interviews, they wanted to publish a book, but they did not share our ideas. Our struggle is from the community, how we are living, and that is a path that we have to travel because it is a long path. Perhaps in our communities where we come from, they do not talk about your sexuality, your body, that is hidden, and then that is where it complicates, either in the communities me'phaa or you have a saviThat you don't talk about your sexual health, you don't talk about your body, don't say that, and then for that part it is a challenge that we have to follow because that is hidden, when you have to talk about your body, because since There begins how we educate boys and girls, how they have to see each other, because boys can do things, wash, do everything, and girls too. Maybe we are not equal in physical strength, but we can do other things and then go teaching the children, changing that that you are a girl you are only going to play with dolls and you are a boy you are only going to play cars. We are thinking, we are working on all of that from a different education, but as a process, it is still a long road and we are learning as the companions say, learning to learn.

Does community feminism imply being part of a community?

L.: Can you be a community feminist without living in a community?

C.: Yes you can be a community feminist without living in a community, because for example here we are a community, not just because we live in a small town or population does not mean that that is why we cannot be feminists, we can be community feminists without being living in a town, and several are community feminists without living in a town or on a ranch.

L.: So it is not defined exclusively by being part of a community or a community system.

T.: For us a colleague who has a position and is doing a job can be a community feminist, she is living a moment of doing service, community positions and for us if she is a woman, she is a community feminist, and it would be to approach her to give her the value that she already has it and that she has to continue doing it, because that is what we have been seeing and that of community feminism as we take it, but in reality we were already doing things, we are already doing things, perhaps we did not name it as it is But when it came to community feminism, we kind of fit in there, "we're from here," we said. And for many women who are from the community, they are doing things that perhaps they still don't have a name for, but they say: "no, I'm in the fight." So for us it is wide, it is not only because you are here, only because you do service, but feminism is lived in any place where you can be and the fight, well what do I tell you? It is thus very complicated in the communities, but it is a follow up. For example, in Pascala (a community), the midwife who went, she says “I have not attended many workshops on this, but I liked it and I will continue to attend”, but she already identified herself: “I am from here; I'm doing things in the community, I just didn't see it, but I'm not alone there in Pascala, but many women get together and talk about other things ”. She identified a lot because she saw that there was another woman who said that she was also experiencing violence, and she liked that part, that people talked about it, so that is what feminism is bringing you closer to, it is telling you: “Oh yes, this is what that I live, this is what happens and before I didn't defend myself and I think I'm from here ”. But right now she came, but in Pascala there are many women that I have invited and they have not been able to come, they are midwives, they are healers and so many women in the communities who are healers, and who have not realized where they are from, perhaps , or that they are not yet in an organization, but in my community that is how we are identifying with them, and for us that is community feminism, although they are not called that. And well that is part of our journey, that we always say that women are half of each town and that we are weaving ourselves in each community.

L.: What do you feel that something constructed from a reality like the Bolivian or the Andean one clicked with this one here? Where did two such different environments meet, two regions, two stories?

T.: I think we clicked because both countries are like native peoples and each native people does have its culture, its way of seeing things, in the case of us me'phaa We see the world but not as a thing, not as an object, but as another person who cares for us and protects us, because that is how we see our hill, that we are asking for rain, we call it the Tata Bengo, and for us they are not hills or stones that we are going to pray to, but it is someone, it is like a person who is there and we bring him offerings and we ask him to take care of us, to protect us from bad rains, we feel that he listens to us and he it's going to protect, and then we don't see it as an object; If I see dirt, gravel or wood, I will sell it, but this is something that takes care of us, feeds us, protects us, and that is what we see. So listen to the Bolivian woman that she talks a lot about Aymara, talks a lot about Abya Yala and it is something that they too from their culture, from their roots, have been taking care of, treating their hills and their waters, then the way they live , taking care, because they have also experienced a threat of mining, of defense of the territory, all that they have also experienced and so have we, so that is something that is true, we have to defend it. They are here and the women are there, they have achieved it, and we have been here too (defending the territory) but we have not seen it that way, and it is something that attracted us: we have to get together, we are the same, we fit in, we have to be sisters.

The body-territory

L.: Another of the things that you work on and mention a lot is the idea of the territory body. How do you imagine it? How do they build it?

T.: For example, what has remained for me is our body as women, how we see things, because something they have taught us is also to look at mother earth, water, air, fire, all that and from there we left too. And that we also in our body there are things that are sown and reap when we give birth to babies, but also through our bodies that have been raped, discriminated against, mistreated, murdered, many things happen through our body and all that is There, as piled up, in some way our bodies are used as women and more so if you are indigenous, and that is what has opened our eyes, what Julieta Paredes talks about, that we have many things in our body, and that we are important and therefore we have to see them to continue sowing, but now from knowing all that we are living, to continue with our body to sow different things, to give different things, but always making awareness that it is something very complicated but it is not impossible, because that is our walk. And we said, ah, yes it is true, we saw our grandmothers and mothers who lived all that, but we can change that, because we have rights, because we are women and we have to continue enjoying and seeing that part of our body in a different, that we give life, and that calls us (of community feminism) because you give life, and the man sows a seed in you but the one who cultivates it is you, the one who takes care of it and makes it be born and grow is you. So that's something that calls you, connects you. But we had not seen it that way because we think that women were made to give birth to children, just like that, as one thing, but no! Julieta made us see many of those things and in some way, some of our grandmothers did know that but they have not defended it as it is. But they already had it, and sometimes when we return, we do interviews with the midwives and we say, "oh well, it's already here," and we hadn't seen it, and that is also the memory of our ancestors, because in them there is knowledge and that which is saved, which has not been left or has not been written as they do, as Julieta does there with feminists, because they already write books and do many things. We don't, but we have everything we do there protected in our memory, only that it is protected and that light was turned on to us so that we could go looking for what is in our memories so much you have a savi, me'phaa which is what we have, and if there are many that we have that have not been left, they have not been written. We also saw the women of important struggles, the biographies, and there are many biographies of women who have fought and that are hardly said; They are there but they cannot be seen, and why are men and women not? So we also have to give them their place, but since we have not gone looking for these things, these memories are like they are hidden, but we say, we must continue, we must search, because there is, and also an exercise in that we all record ourselves and do an exercise that I interview her and I am going to write her life and she mine, and we already do a biography, because we are all important. And that is what has made us talk about our body, our memory, our territories that we make and that in our territory there are many systems and we are encompassed there, because nothing is separate, we are all involved in almost all systems, because our system is not static, but is in constant motion. It is transforming and that is how we are forming ourselves, and that is what was left to me and well, yes, that's why I say, "it's that I'm from here, it's that here I connected."

L.: How is the relationship that you are building between the knowledge of the grandmothers and and community feminism? It seems like it has nothing to do with it, but that is a relationship that you are building.

T.: Yes, we are from community feminism but from Guerrero, from Guerrero, we are working collectively, we are working well because we are in support of others, we do not make books or we are going to interview mengano perengano, we are learning, we are not editors or writers, but we do what we can, and in the newsletter we put out, women express themselves as best they can.

C.: Yes, it is their way of expressing themselves about them and we do not change what they say, we cannot change what they say. Those of us who are 30 to 35 are not the same as the generation who are 40 or over. Or the same for those of 25, each generation is different, and we have to respect those processes. Sometimes I go to schools and tell them: hey, I give you a workshop for your children, and some directors send me flying, but I say: someday they will call me. And recently I went to Tierra Colorada to give a workshop that I wanted to give at my daughter's school and they sent me to fly, and I gave it to another school, and the children were asking when I would return to continue working, that they liked to talk of other subjects, the books. And I told the teachers why don't they take a workshop too.

T.: So we go, we are several, we have companions from Oaxaca of those who are from community feminism and there are videos; Julieta was also in Oaxaca in 2015, we did that activity and we were there, so I remembered and said: when am I going to return to Oaxaca?

C.: Yes, we are learning together. For example, we made a video for Seeds of what is community feminism,4 what it is for, and now we see the results of women learning to see ourselves first. Learn to take care of yourself, learn to take care of your health and that is the part that when we start the workshops we always tell them: “love yourself because if you do not take care of yourself it means that you do not love the people who are around. "

We must heal our wounds, which are difficult, of course they do, they leave us scars, they always leave us scars, but you turn to see it and say: they are memories that you have left, but you no longer do them like that but in another way, and that. It is part of what I talk with the women in my town and they come by themselves to talk too. Those wounds need to be healed, but for one to help heal those wounds we need that space for ourselves, and that's what we have here.

With this invitation to heal and with many ideas hovering in our heads, we closed our conversation with laughter and thanks. Echoes, resonances and a call to broaden listening is part of what emerges in these dialogues, never finished and always so necessary.


Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos (2015, 11 de diciembre). ¿Por qué soy feminista comunitaria? (archivo de video). Disponible en:, consultado el 15 de agosto de 2019.

Julieta Paredes y la Comunidad de Mujeres Creando Comunidad (2014). Hilando fino desde el feminismo comunitario. México: El Rebozo, Zapateándole, Lente Flotante, En cortito que’ s palargo, AliFern AC., 2ª edición.

Gasparello, Giovanna (2009). “Policía Comunitaria de Guerrero, investigación y autonomía”, Política y Cultura, núm. 32, pp. 61-78.

PhillyCAM (2018, 8 de mayo). Julieta Paredes (archivo de video). Disponible en:, consultado el 15 de agosto de 2019.

Sierra, María Teresa (2017). “Autonomías indígenas y justicia de género: las mujeres de la Policía Comunitaria frente a la seguridad, las costumbres y los derechos”, en R. Sieder (coord.), Exigiendo justicia y seguridad. Mujeres indígenas y pluralidades legales en América Latina. México: ciesas.


Inline Feedbacks
Ver todos los comentarios


ISSN: 2594-2999.

Unless expressly mentioned, all content on this site is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Download legal provisions complete

EncartesVol. 7, No. 13, March 2024-September 2024, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434, and El Colegio de San Luis, A. C., Parque de Macul, No. 155, Fracc. Colinas del Parque, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Tel. (444) 811 01 01. Contact: Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: March 25, 2024.