In Argentina, huge crowds take to the streets to celebrate the legalisation of abortion. In India, hundreds of thousands of farmers protest against new legislation, while millions take action in support. 2020 might have been a terrible, virus-ravaged year, but it ended with glimmers of new possibilities.
Argentina has become only the third South American nation, after Uruguay and Guyana, to permit elective abortion, a victory founded on decades of activism by women. In 2005, a number of groups came together to create the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion. A decade later came mass mobilisation against violence against women, a campaign that expanded to demand abortion rights, too. In 2018, parliament’s lower house approved an abortion bill but church opposition persuaded the Senate to block it. It took two more years of pressure to change the Senate’s mind.
Meanwhile, what has been called “the largest-ever mobilisation of the peasantry in independent India” is challenging three new laws that seek to deregulate the agricultural market, remove price guarantees and invite large corporations to muscle in. Last November, up to 300,000 famers and rural workers came to New Delhi, blocking roads and setting up makeshift camps. India’s BJP government assumed the protest would soon fracture and dissolve. But the farmers are still there, having resisted police brutality, tear gas and water cannons. It’s the government whose resolve is beginning to fracture.
In a year that saw the consolidation of authoritarianism across the globe, events from Argentina to India revealed the potency of collective action. Signs of hope for 2021.