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#NiUnaMenos and the Poetry of Gender Equality

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Maria Clara Medina | 11 March 2019

Text and translation of the poem to English by Maria Clara Medina. Original available in Spanish.

Social movements like the Latin American #NiUNaMenos are ruptures in the dominant culture from which symbolic codes, frameworks, institutions and counter-hegemonic values can be constructed. These movements appropriate, remix, re-signify, and recirculate shared cultural resources. In that sense, this specific case shows how a civic narrative of equality “speaks” more directly to Latin American societies than State and top-down driven regionalist narratives, appealing to the sense of belonging under a common precariousness and violent everyday reality.

In the same way, poetry has always been a battle field where the conflict between widespread social perceptions, attitudes, prejudices and beliefs have been beautifully outlined as essential parts of our human condition in all its complexity. Gender inequality has been a topic of Latin American poetry since Spanish Colonial Times, when Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1695) called attention to the injustice of traditional gender roles and the social blaming of the “fallen woman” in her poetry. She contrasted this with the public admiration for the sexually aggressive male when affirming,

You foolish men who lay

The guilt on women,

Not seeing you’re the cause

Of the very thing you blame.

As a part of this long-term Latin American poetic tradition, the contemporary Argentinean art collective Poesía a Mano Alzada - “Freehand poetry” – presents its blog as a virtual library where "the other poetry" is lived as an art-work non-canonized by official cultural or academic circles. As a space for writers and thinkers very aware that any step towards social justice begins first in the cultural arena, this blog has almost naturally become a virtual amphitheatre for artistic expressions within and about the #NiUnaMenos movement.

A theme commonly explored in contemporary poetry on gender injustice is turning one's gendered life story into a call to action. Born in Chaco, Argentina during the violent 1970s, poet María Marta Liébana always reminds us about her conviction that “The best poems are the stories written from the soul (…) Poetry is an inexhaustible source of feelings and, best of all, is that it transcends the paper and the letters, because it touches the heart of the reader.”

Liébana feels, and she feels very deeply for the women victims of gender-based violence, for the murdered, for the abused, for the disappeared, for the sorrow of their families and beloved, and for all the black days when this violence arises. Here it’s just one sample of her nearly 2,000 artistic pieces:

“Not One Less”, by María Marta Liébana © 2015

Not one less

has to walk the sidewalk

shaking her hair

shaking her hips

settling the heels

of her golden stilettos

distilling with pride

The aroma of woman and respect.

Not one less

be without that smile

red carmine on her lips

breaking a sharp scream

pitifully hidden

in the blankets of the past

in the silence of the room

that she shares with her beloved.

Not one less

her children left without a mother

her friends and family

leaving a rose on the bench

dedicating beautiful prose

with tears in their eyes

claiming from her absence

the rights of all women.

Not one less

the unfulfilled promises

words that the wind carries

stripping of her dreams

to be happy and loved,

that there is not one less

that she stays in the memory

of a black day in history.

Check out María Marta Liébana’s blog and a reading of her poem in Spanish.


Maria Clara Medina is an assistant professor and the International Coordinator at the School of Global Studies. Originally from the academic disciplines of history and social anthropology, she considers herself a gender researcher, a football connoisseur, and a result of multiple migrations. She has been publishing since 1989 including a number of scientific and popular scientific texts on, among other issues, Latin American agrarian history; ethnic, class and gender identity building in postcolonial situations; cultural history and the building of national myths; Swedish colonial ambitions in Latin America during the wars of independence; and intellectual history. Her current research is in the field of Human Rights with focus on reproductive rights and identity public policies, both in high- and low-income lands.



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