If memory is a woman (International Women’s Day 2024)

Here we are, another March 8th. Perhaps it will be adorned with fewer mimosa flowers and more reflections. Maybe it will be filled with the familiar clichés that seem obligatory to utter to justify its presence on the calendar. Or perhaps it will echo with the silent, stifled, distant cries of those women who endure their daily reality as an inescapable sentence.


Each time, every woman captivates my attention.

No, not in the stereotypical sense one might expect from a man speaking of a woman. Not merely as a representation of a gender.

Today, it’s something deeper. It’s the innate recognition of an intimate and unbreakable bond. An acknowledgment of an indebtedness to life that I know I can never fully repay but that shapes the man I have become. It’s an awareness that many men choose to overlook or deny. Consequently, this failure to fully comprehend translates into other manifestations: from sexist remarks to an inability to truly love, from crude comments to violence that culminates in tragedy.


For me, memory embodies femininity.

I couldn’t envision myself without this facet. It is feminine in the most absolute sense because, when I reflect on my existence, my journey through life is enriched by the women who have infused their essence into mine. Yet, it’s also feminine in a specific sense: her name is Franca. She is my March 8th. Aunt Franca, fondly known as “Zaza.”


Franca has always epitomized the spirit of the Seventies. Those were the years of my birth, of my upbringing, the years whose echoes I still sense in my being. A woman of revolution. A woman not confined to the past but one who embodies the aspirations of the future.

Franca and her passion for Van Gogh, for Cuba, for championing the cause of women. Civil rights, political demonstrations, rallies, hands raised in solidarity in the squares. Issues like abortion, divorce, young mothers, marginalized women – those trapped in abusive marriages or behind prison walls – she fought tirelessly for them all.

I envision Franca, with her billowing skirts. I imagine her reclining on a meadow, cigarette smoke enveloping her face, the strumming of a guitar in the background. Dreams. Her dreams. The dreams of an innocent girl who perceived the world through the lens of diversity. The power of diversity. That creative, vital, innate force that transforms life into a resounding declaration of existence.


Franca left this world too soon. She departed like countless other women. Far from the spotlight, unknown to many. But not to me. I refuse to forget. I refuse to forget her dedication, her sacrifices, her selflessness in amplifying the voices of countless women who were silenced. Her voice reverberates within me, reminding me of her legacy, particularly in moments when indifference, ignorance, arrogance, vulgarity, and intellectual blindness threaten to dim the radiance emanating from a woman’s smile, thoughts, and touch.


Sometimes, all it takes is to be moved and to remember, gentlemen, that within our every breath resides the essence of our mothers, of every Zaza, Clarissa, Natasha, Daniela, Rita, and “of all those who are yet to come, of those who will shape the future.”