[eng] Daniela López and Francisca Millán - Women's legal defense: care, feminism and human rights

Love, feminism and reinvention are the three words that evoke the formation of the law firm AML Defensa de Mujeres. It all starts in 2018, when Daniela López and who writes, Francisca Millán, we were, at that time, in an incipient love relationship, in which each of us lived in a different region of Chile: she was from Valparaíso and I was from the Maule region. In that context, we came to live in Santiago and found ourselves with a lack of labor source, which, necessarily, made us get creative.

Both of us had been participating for many years, and up to that moment, in feminist activism. Also in social movements and politics. So we were very aware of what the feminist needs were within the legal world. 

The need to devise a plan to address the complex labor landscape for lawyers, together with the growing feminist tide -which, in 2018, inserted in the public agenda the incorporation of a gender perspective in all areas of life- led us to take our own violet glasses to undertake concrete actions in the face of the almost null feminist gaze within the conservative world of law.
The journey, initially, was stealthy and pervaded by a mixture of feelings, among them fear and expectation of how this proposal for a feminist law firm would be received in the judicial field. Considering that the application of a gender perspective posed a paradigm shift to the traditional ways of dealing, until then, with criminal and family law, for example.

In this way, the possibility arose of initiating litigation of cases that required a gender perspective for their processing, since in the absence of special treatment in the current legislation, these cases had historically been ruled against the victims of gender violence.

Today, active participation in feminism has become an issue in our favor, as it has allowed us to understand the phenomenon through which the women we represent go through, beyond the judicial sphere. That is, taking the unequal reality that women face during their lives. This in turn has allowed us, little by little, to permeate these traditional, conservative and androcentric spaces -such as the administration of justice- with this idea of material equality.
The work of the feminist law firm AML Defensa de Mujeres has been well received by the judiciary, in general, and also by women in need of representation, who until now had not found anyone who effectively understood the phenomenon they were facing. 

A bet that moves away from the traditional relationship of subordination with those who are represented, since we work side by side with respect to all the needs that are expressed, which allows us to contribute to the reparation of the violence experienced.
We transfer our feminist struggle to the law, to access to justice for women, creating precedents with a gender perspective in the courts because we refuse to renounce state justice and because we all have the right to enjoy material and formal equality before the law. 

We want aggressors to stop finding in justice a new way to harm their victims; we want justice to understand that if a man is capable of threatening the life of a woman mother, who is the primary caregiver of his children, he will never be a good father.

We have lawyers who are fully prepared in Human Rights and Gender, litigating in the various areas of law, so that inequality and the subordination of women in society and in the courts of justice, do not continue to be legitimized.

With landmark rulings such as the case of Daniela Pierre (a woman who recovered her children after they were taken from her in an irregular procedure and without translation support, which set an important precedent in relation to the treatment given by the justice system and the Chilean State to the migrant population), we have been consolidating, articulating and integrating spaces that have allowed us to make our work visible. This, not only to make ourselves known, but also as a recognition of the importance of actively maintaining the discussions of gender stereotypes that are present in the public space.

Along the same lines, we realize that, for a law firm that litigates strategically in human rights matters, the communications area is a fundamental area for the purpose of making visible the inequality that we denounce on a daily basis. That is why our first hires were women communicators. 
We incorporated gender logics and feminist principles, not only in the processing of our cases -which by now have been extended to other areas of law such as administrative, labor and constitutional law- but also in the way our team works by hiring only women workers. 
Paradoxically, this has meant the development of a different way of operating internally that has allowed us to escape from the logic that prevails today in the labor world, which has to do with high levels of exploitation and precariousness.
We strive to provide a fair, dignified and fairly equal payment among our partners and lawyers, as well as with the different workers of our firm. 
Changing these relational logics has also allowed us to operate from containment and closeness. Through these actions we vindicate the idea that the personal is political, therefore, everything that happens in the personal area of the lives of our workers, and of ourselves, is also part of the work space. 
In practice, this has allowed us to have safe spaces, free of violence, with a working week from Monday to Thursday. In short, we have a team of women who make it possible for AML Defensa de Mujeres to exist, with such a level of commitment. Working for the defense of women's rights in Chile is an exhausting task, full of moments of pain, anger and impotence. But, from time to time, there are victories that make it all worthwhile. Let's go for more!

* Daniela López is a feminist lawyer and founding partner of the law firm AML Defensa de Mujeres. fb @AML.DefensadeMujeres ig @amldefensademujeres tw @AmlDefensa.

* Francisca Millán is a feminist lawyer, specialized in Human Rights and Gender, and founding partner of the law firm AML Defensa de Mujeres. fb @AML.DefensadeMujeres ig @amldefensademujeres tw @AmlDefensa.

[1] Translated from the Spanish by Andrea Balart-Perrier.

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