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About this Episode

At 4am on December 30th 2020, as crowds gathered in front of Congress awaiting the final vote, Argentina legalized abortion, realizing the hopes and validating the hard work of organizers and lawyers, politicians and medical providers, veteran feminist leaders and newly engaged teenage activists. 

This effort to change the narrative on abortion and with it the law spanned decades. Its antecedents came from the feminist organizing after the fall of the military dictatorship in the 80s. The Ni Una Menos (Not One Fewer) protests against femicides helped accelerate its growth in 2015. And the unexpected intra-party alliance in Congress led to its first legislative success in 2018. 

Clearing the final hurdle – passage in the Senate – took two years of smart strategizing, tireless organizing and masterful messaging. From potent symbols like the handkerchief and the hanger to finely tuned persuasive approaches deployed via social media, the campaign demonstrated that disparate voices can come together to create a harmonious and victorious choir.

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Meet Our Interviewees

Paula Ávila-Guillén

Growing up in a small town affected by the Colombian conflict led to Paula dedicating herself to the fight for justice and equality. Paula has fourteen years of experience in designing and implementing advocacy and litigation strategies to address a variety of human rights issues. Her keen political judgment and ability to identify opportunities have led her to advance strategies that have created a long-lasting social impact.

As Executive Director of WEC, Paula serves as a principal strategist and leads WEC’s campaigns and operations. WEC’s campaigns include efforts to end the total abortion bans in El Salvador, ending the total emergency contraception ban in Honduras, and support the movement to legalize abortion and expand women’s rights in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico.

Through her women’s rights advocacy work she has been interviewed, published, and quoted by the New York Times, The Economist, The Miami Herald, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNN en Español, NTN24, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and others. Paula received her law degree from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and she received an LL.M. with a concentration in Human Rights Law from the Washington College of Law at American University. Paula was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2012.

Mariela Belski

Mariela Belski is an experienced feminist human rights lawyer, and an advocate in international human rights law. She has more than 20 years of work in issues of human rights, gender, justice and strategic litigation. She is the Executive Director of Amnesty International Argentina, an organization that has campaigned for and helped secure the decriminalization and legalization of abortion in Argentina. Mariela also is Argentine ambassador of She Decides, a global political movement that works to advance the right of girls and women everywhere to decide about their bodies and their lives.

Luciana Peker

Luciana Peker is a journalist and author specializing in gender. She’s the author of the books Sexteame, amor y sexo en la era de las mujeres deseantes (Sext Me: Love and Sex in the Era of Women’s Desires); La revolucion de la hijas (The Revolution of Daughters); Putita Golosa, por un feminismo del goce (Gluttonous Bitch: Toward a Feminism of Enjoyment); La revolución de las mujeres no era solo una píldora (The Women’s Revolution Wasn’t Just the Pill);  Mujeres ferroviarias, experiencias de vida sobre rieles (Railroad Women: Life Experiences on the Rails).

She’s currently a reporter for Infobae. For 20 years, she wrote the supplement Las/12 of Página 12. She has also been a columnist in the New York Times, Washington Post, El País, El Diario.Es, La Marea, Yo Donna y Anfibia y en Luna, Para Ti, Veintitrés and Crítica.

She’s the host of the program Lo intempestivo (The Untimely), on FM Nacional Rock with Darío Sztajnszrajber. Also with him, Luciana created the event Deconstruir el amor (Deconstructing Love). In addition, she’s a columnist in Pasaron cosas (Things Happened) on Radio con Vos and Encuentro nacional (National Encounter) on Radio Nacional.

She received honorable mention in Taller Escuela Agencia’s prize, won the Lola Mora prize from the Women’s Directive of the City of Buenos Aires, the Written Press Prize for “For the life of women, not one more death,” from ISIS International and supported by UNIFEM, and she received the Goethe Institute scholarship for Young Latinamerican Journalists.