Generations have seen Latin American women and feminist activists wear green in the fight for abortion rights. A symbol born in Argentina is now travelling the globe in a shockwave response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to ban abortions on June 24, 2022. It took seconds for women to process the overturn of Roe v. Wade until the streets of cities filled with protesters and green bandanas.
A green flood of shared identity and symbolism is seen through accessories, clothing, make-up, flags, and bandanas. Green has come to represent free, legal, and safe abortion rights, widely known as the ‘Green Wave’.
The wave formed when women of all backgrounds roamed the streets of Argentina to fight for their rights in solidarity. The Argentinian streets remained populated in green until the very moment abortions became safe and legal in December 2020. Official numbers revealed the National Campaign gave up to 80,000 green bandanas every year since 2018. These were at demonstrations, city centres, and most kiosks.
The choice for green came with no meaning than being unable to get enough purple bandanas. Purple is the original colour of feminism. Marta Alanis, Argentinian activist and founder of Catholics for the Right to Decide, wanted to pay respects to the memory of all the Argentinean mothers. They wore white scarves in protest against the military junta that took their children from them in the 1970s. In 2003, Alanis chose to expand the symbol and change the colour in preparation for a national gathering of Argentinian women who fought for their bodies for the next two decades.
Her friend, Susana Chiarotti, suggested green. Green has always signified the environment, sustainability, and life on earth. Fittingly, sustainability and abortion rights are the same. “The term life should return to us,” she remarked in the irony of anti-abortion rights movements carrying the “pro-life” motto.
The concept of the green bandana came about with no illusion of what came after. To everyone’s surprise, they successfully dominated the streets of Argentina and spread throughout the continent, gaining rights in Colombia and Mexico. The green bandana is a universal symbol worn all over the United States.
Edited By: Julian Rose
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