It is not strange that France MarquezVice President-elect of Colombia, has been domestic worker. The vast majority of those who dedicate themselves to this work in Mexico, in her country and the rest of the continent, are women crossed by migration, poverty and racialization, like her. But it is not strange that she has reached that position.
“What is thought of Afro-descendant, Raizal, Palenquera and indigenous people is what is thought of women: that we cannot, that we do not know, that we are incapable. That we have to be well placed women in our place, who obey, keep silent and do not question. And I’m not that,” said the lawyer in an interview with Semana Magazine last March.
For the first time in the history of Colombia, a black woman, with a history of social, environmental and political struggle representing various sectors of the population, will be vice president, and that gives hope. They say it from Mexico Marcelina Bautista Bautistaone of the most important leaders of the domestic workers movement, and Maria Celeste Sanchez Sugiathe first Afro-Mexican senator.
“I am very pleased, as a domestic worker and as a woman, that she occupies a space of power. It is a hope and an example for many others”, says Marcelina Bautista.
However, the director of the Care and Training Center for Domestic Workers (CACEH) does not romanticize the achievement: “It does not mean that it will be easy now to get a position, or that our labor rights will be fulfilled immediately by your promotion. But she has a different vision, that of the Work from homeand that will make a difference” for Latin America.
Who is Francia Marquez? If they didn’t know her, now many people will. She “she began her fight from a very young age, she was domestic worker, he looked for the means to study and he did. That fills us with joy and hope,” says María Celeste Sánchez, doctor in Biomedical Sciences and Afro-descendant activist.
It’s not just that she’s a black woman, “but she truly represents many Afro-descendant women of Latin America and it is symbolic that an activist woman who has fought for the defense of her territory, of her people, is in that place”, she adds.
This time it wasn’t about fill out a quotaas other parties did in Colombia and as it is done in Mexico, says the young woman.
Shared bonds of racism
Francia Márquez (December 1, 1981) was born in Suárez, a municipality in the department of Cauca, in eastern Colombia and near the Pacific coast. The Cauca area is one of the most affected by the armed conflict of more than six decades.
She is a lawyer, feminist, human rights defender and environmental activist. She was mining and domestic worker. She received the Goldman prize for the environment and the Joan Alsina prize for human rights and presided over the National Council for Peace and Coexistence in 2020, after the 2016 peace accords. Before joining Gustavo Petro’s formula, she was a candidate for the presidency.
Mexico shares with Colombia, among many things, a history of “racism, discrimination, xenophobia and all those scourges of which people of African descent have been victims”, shares Celeste Sánchez, alternate senator for Citlalli Hernández (Morena) and who was able to legislate from 2020 to the beginning of 2022.
The dark skinned women in this country they are 60% less likely to reach the top wealth quintile than a fair-skinned person, according to the report For my race inequality will speakfrom Oxfam.
21% of light-skinned people work in low-skilled jobs, while 31% of the dark-skinned population is employed in these positions. A quarter (26%) of white people are employers and only 13% of brown and black people can provide employment.
“I was the first Afro-Mexican senator, I entered through the substitution of Citlalli, not through affirmative action. For more than seven years I have worked an agenda of rights of Afro-descendantsI recognize myself as Afro-Mexican.”
And there is nothing wrong with affirmative action or quotas, he clarifies. But in Mexico, many people have taken advantage of those places to position themselves. Currently, only Deputy Sergio Peñaloza (Morena) remains in Congress as a representative of the Afro population. Quotas in the private or public sector “are not a favor, it is the result of a historic struggle that we have given.”
Who’s turn is it?
In interviews with different media, Francia Márquez has mentioned that it hurt the right that a person who is assigned a place in the kitchen, serving dishes, working a house someone else, run a country, recalls Celeste Sánchez.
One of the families for whom the Colombian lawyer worked paid her 300,000 Colombian pesos a month with breaks every 15 days. That would be less than 1,600 Mexican pesos or 80 dollars. “I only had enough to buy soap, milk, diapers and for tickets,” he told Semana last February.
On one occasion, Francia’s son got sick, so he asked his employer for the payment in advance. The woman refused, instead, she gave her daughter the same amount, 300,000 Colombian pesos, so that she could go to a concert. “That seemed very painful to me.”
The Household employees in Colombia they have the Union of Afro-Colombian Domestic Service Workers, a union formed in 2013. And now with its vice president.
“But it is not that easy, sometimes people believe that we can change everything and we find many barriers. It is a fact that she is connected to the most excluded part of society, but she cannot move an entire system”, she says. Marcelina Bautistafounder of the National Union of Workers and Domestic Workers (Sinactraho) in Mexico.
“It is an opportunity to at least lay the foundations and do important things, like changes in laws. I hope that the people who follow her now will always do so, because when we do not achieve the goals that they endorse us, sometimes they reject you and that is unfair, ”she says.
In Mexico, organized domestic workers achieved recognition of their rights in the Federal Labor Law (LFT).
We already did what we had to do, says Marcelina Bautista, including the government, “now it’s up to the employers become aware of how they want to establish the relationship at home, how they are going to look at us from now on. Democracy, respect for human rights and the construction of dialogue begin in the home”.