Fearless Cities opened on Saturday with a plenary session of leaders from Barcelona en Comú. It was held in the basilica of the Universitat de Barcelona, with the speakers taking their place far from the pews, behind a table that had been set up in front of the altar. The deputy mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, joked that it was unfortunate that the panel was seated in such a high place, but that, perhaps, it was just, and just about time—time for women to take their place in such institutions.
The plenary session was entitled The Feminization of Politics. For Barcelona en Comú, this concept is more than a commitment to feminist issues. It represents an entire reconfiguration of political practice. Barcelona’s Councilor for Feminisms, Laura Pérez Castaño, spoke about four of the key practices necessary for realizing this concept.
- Parity between women and men, between the masculine and the feminine. Not content with the mere legal equality inherited from liberal traditions of the past, Castaño envisions an end to the marginalization of feminine concepts and knowledge. We can imagine a world where female victims of sexual violence are not automatically treated with suspicion, or where knowledge about child care is taken just as seriously as more traditionally male pursuits.
- Reduction of verticality. Horizontalizing our political spaces will require ensuring that all are speaking in equal proportion, and that all are listening equally as well. To get there, we must recognize the outsize role that men can often take up in public debate. It will require consulting experts, less often from the universities and more often from the territories actually affected by policy.
- Inclusion of women and domestic workers. This means holding meetings at all hours of the day, not always in the evenings! It means providing predictable child care and publicizing it. And it means always being vigilant when it comes to who can participate in the meetings.
- Centrality of gender in our politics. The feminization of politics is not guaranteed, even for Barcelona en Comú. Achieving it is an ongoing struggle and dialectic within our organizations. With that in mind, we must not fail to center gender in our analysis and practice, because only then will we accomplish this vision of a more universal politics.
These concepts surfaced many more times over the course of the weekend, informing our discussions of economic justice, building power, radical democracy, and many other issues. We’re excited to do everything we can to help bring this idea back into our chapter, to see how it can inform our organizing and political practice. Look out for more posts soon!