The Pañuelo Verde: A Transnational Symbol for Reproductive Justice

June 21, 2023 2 Comments

The Pañuelo Verde: A Transnational Symbol for Reproductive Justice

It’s hard to believe we have made it through one year without the protection of Roe. With the constitutional right to abortion dismantled, we have watched decisions on reproductive health deferred to the states.

...and not in a good way. via giphy

A legal battleground of trigger laws and a patchwork of abortion access have resulted in confusion and fear across the US. The reproductive autonomy of women is more regulated now than it was 50 years ago, and we are witnessing a post-Roe reality that has further exacerbated health disparities and maternal health outcomes.

the reproductive autonomy of women is more regulated now than it was 50 years ago

Riot Healers x Mayday Health

As we reflect on a year of restriction and losses, we also take a moment to celebrate the wins, organizations, and people fighting back. We are happy to announce our latest collaboration with Mayday Health and their Executive Director Dr. Jennifer Lincoln. Mayday Health is a 501(c)(3) reproductive health education nonprofit that empowers people to make their own choices, providing resources and education about birth control, morning-after pills, and abortion.

With Mayday, we are hoping to inspire you to join the conversation on reproductive justice and spread awareness that you can still get abortion pills in all 50 states

mayday health

learn more NOW at Mayday.Health

As part of our partnership, you will find our collaborated version of the pañuelo verde, a symbol of reproductive justice that has swept over Latin American and made its way north.

The pañuelo verde: history & story

Born in Argentina in 2003, the pañuelo verde (green scarf) started as the emblem of the Argentine National Campaign for Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion, and has become the defining symbol of contemporary Latin American feminism (1).

Demonstration for abortion rights in Buenos Aires, 2/19/2020. RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

For almost two decades since it's appearance, the pañuelo verde has moved across Argentina to Mexico, Chile, and Peru, fighting for the decriminalization of abortion. The transnational dimension of the scarf gives it significant symbolic weight and allows activists to draw strength from movements across the globe (2).

Pro-choice demonstrators wait for the result of the vote: Argentine Congress passed a bill to legalize abortion until 14 weeks. Marcelo Endelli / Getty Images

Part of the larger marea verde or "green tide" of reproductive rights activism, activists and organizers have clutched green banners, filled the air with green smoke, handed out green pamphlets, and of course, worn, lifted, and tied their pañuelo verde.

what will save us is to be organized

The bandana style itself is inspired by the white handkerchief of the 1970s movement Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which had protested the abduction and murder of children under the dictatorship at the time.

Mercedes Colás de Meroño Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo by Javier Paredes 

Why Green

In Argentina, green is used to symbolize hope and life: hope that women may own the rights to their bodies, hope that women can choose for themselves, and hope to live a life that they choose. 

Demonstrators display green headscarves outside the Argentine Congress in 2020. Emiliano Lasalvia/AFP via Getty Images

The use of green is also particularly interesting as green isn’t stereotypically gendered. Green makes a point. It encourages men to join the fight, and reminds us that abortion isn't just a woman’s right issue, but a human rights issue too. 

Our pañuelo

Drawings of the sun and the moon are tied in the center of our bandana as a symbol of channeling feminine and masculine energies into the fight. The moon is historically a symbol for femininity, darkness, mystery, and renewal. The sun represents the life we choose, and channels energy, power, clarity, and light.

Together, the sun and the moon are more than their individual symbols. We see opposite forces, but a balance and interpretation of resilience, strength, and growth, held by hands in the face of adversity. 

These natural elements are grounded and held in the center of our pañuelo for strength and balance in a time of chaos. 

In two corners you will see a uterus, mirroring all divine feminine energy. In the opposing corners, a jaguar symbolizes protection, courage, and strength. Specifically, the jaguar protects the opposing corners of the uterus: if you mess with our rights, “we will bite back”. While jaguars are solitary animals, their symbolism on the pañuelo shows that we have our individual tenacity to draw on, but we are far more powerful together as seen in a sea of green tide. 

take our rights, we will bite back

You will also find our pañuelo written in both English and Spanish, as an homage to the Latin roots of the pañuelo, but also to be inclusive to our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters.

How to Wear It 

At larger protests and marches linked to abortion rights, activists choose to wear it in the ‘traditional’ way, tied around the neck, so that the logo and slogan are visible, centering the issue of reproductive rights.

Getty images: Girl wearing pañuelo as a facemask

You will also see activists tie it around the wrist or around a bag as a way of communicating abortion rights in a more subtle way.

A protester wearing a green bandana raises a fist at a protest against the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, on July 4, 2022 David McNew / Getty Images

Although we have a long fight ahead, the solidarity of the pañuelo helps to draw inspiration, break down stigma, and raise awareness around the influence we can have at a grassroots level. Policymakers will continue to threaten reproductive autonomy and gender justice. The pañuelo is a reminder that we will fight back, and that we are stronger together.

*15% of profits from our collaborated Mayday Health Collection will be donated to Mayday. Shop the collection and pañuelo on Friday, June 10th*

For More

  • Donate Directly to Mayday 
  • Follow Mayday on Social 
  • Follow Mayday Executive Director Dr. Jennifer Lincoln
  • Visit Dr. Jennifer Lincoln’s website
  • Abortion, Everyday on Substack for up-to-date information on laws and regulations of the anti-choice movement.
  • Plan C for a state-to-state guide to abortion pills
  • Sister Song to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.


  1. Martin, Phoebe (2020). “The 'Pañuelo Verde' Across Latin America: a Symbol of Transnational and Local Feminist (Re)volution“. Kings College London
  2. Alexandra Baynes, Alexandra (2023). “The Pañuelo Verde (green scarf): an Emblem of the Argentine Campaign for Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion”. The Manchester Historian.
  3. Hernandez, Jose (2022). “How Green Became the Color of the Abortion Rights movement. NPR

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