Day 5 - Marcela Lagarde 

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Our fifth #12FeministsofChristmas comes from Ellen O'Sullivan who writes about the origins of the term 'femicide'. We are very conscious that this time of year can be extremely dangerous for many people whose homes are not a refuge from the stresses that many of us take for granted. This week, 10th December, draws to a close the annual #16DaysofActivism against Gender based violence, lead by UN Women. 

Femicide is a word of unfortunate necessity, but one that doesn’t often enter popular parlance outside the realm of gender studies or criminology. Originating with Dianna Russell in the mid 1970’s, femicide can broadly be defined as the killing of women because they are women. Marcela Lagarde, a Mexican activist and feminist scholar, has nurtured and cultivated the qualitative interrogation into the definition of femicide, as well as who and what the term serves. After translating some of Russell’s work from English to Spanish, Lagarde tailored ‘femicide’ to better fit the needs and experiences of the Mexican community, and introduced an element to the concept of femicide that considered larger structural contexts as well as individualized violence. She thus cultivated the concept femicidio, recognising that the impunity of the Mexican government was such a crucial role in the treatment of femicide crimes that it should be recognised as an integral part of definition. By adding the structural element of government inaction to femicidio, Lagarde’s definition allows for the critique of larger sociological structures, and does not just treat femicide as an individualized crime (Corradi et al, 2016). The work of Lagarde has allowed for legislative developments and ultimately improved safety for women, while highlighted the power of the ‘politics of naming’ and the importance of theory in activism.


Sources: Corradi,C. Marcuello-Servós, C. Boira, S. Weil, S. (2016) ‘Theories of femicide and their significance for social research, ‘ Current Sociology, vol. 64 (7). Available at: DOI: 10.1177/0011392115622256


UN Women, 'In Focus: 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence',

Image from Valencia University,