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Women & Gender Justice

“We are constructing a new definition of hope,” said Salvadoran community organizer Ana Ella Gomez.

Everywhere, women have suffered long histories of oppression and violence. Poverty is feminized, falling most heavily on the backs of women and their children. Under the growing militarization, corporate control, and inequality in the world, many women are pushed to the margins of unforgiving economies and societies. Poverty is feminized, falling most heavily on the backs of women and their children. Women bear the burden disproportionately, since the needs of the whole household are their responsibility. It is up to them to work doubly hard to compensate for the health care and education that most low-income governments no longer cover, thanks to World Bank and IMF pressure, and to secure adequate food. The “race to the bottom” of globalization leaves their rights, safety, and families’ well-being unprotected so that their countries can be “competitive.” The list of ways that women suffer in today's political economy runs on and on.

But while women are victimized, they are not strictly victims. No one stands to gain more in finding a way out of the current economic model than resource-poor women, except their even more vulnerable children. As such, organized women are also acting as advocates, activists, and visionaries, bringing strength, imagination, and creativity to the quest for other worlds, as the Zapatistas say, “in which all worlds fit.” They are finding ways to project themselves into society and into politics to shift power there, for their own rights and status as well as for the collective good. They are increasingly vocal and visible in movements to build economic, social, political, and cultural alternatives, and to protect against the ravages of global corporate capitalism.

The imperative of gender justice also mandates the full civil, political, and economic rights for trans*, gender non-conforming, and queer people who are challenging imposed gender identities and roles.These people are fighting for the same civic participation, physical security, political rights, freedom of expression, freedom to love, and economic opportunity as male and straight people. For many, this is about their very survival, and they are finding solidarity, allies, and movements to build greater consciousness and compassion.

Articles

“The Peoples of ¡Berta Vive!” International Gathering

Cáceres Lives On, and so does Violence by Honduran Government and Dam Company

"The Peoples of Berta Caceres" march to the Gualcarque River, April 15, 2016. Photo: Maggie Padlewska.
"The Peoples of Berta Caceres" march to the Gualcarque River, April 15, 2016. Photo: Maggie Padlewska.

Fifteen hundred people from at least 22 countries convened in Honduras from April 13-15, 2016 for the “Peoples of ¡Berta Vive!” International Gathering. They came to honor slain global movement leader Berta Cáceres and to commit themselves to keeping her legacy alive.

¡BERTA LIVES! THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BERTA CÁCERES

Berta Cáceres rallies a crowd. Photo Credit: HispanTV

I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter for indigenous peoples’ power; for control over their own territories; for women’s and LGBTQ rights; for authentic democracy; for the well-being of Pachamama; for an end to tyranny by transnational capital; and for an end to US empire was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power.

Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance

By Beverly Bell | Cornell University Press | 2001

Haiti, long noted for poverty and repression, has a powerful and too-often-overlooked history of resistance. Women have played a large role in changing the balance of political and social power, even as they have endured rampant and devastating state-sponsored violence, including torture, rape, abuse, illegal arrest, disappearance, and assassination. Beverly Bell brings together thirty-eight oral histories from a diverse group of Haitian women. Defying victim status despite gender- and state-based repression, they tell how Haiti's poor and dispossessed women have fought for their personal and collective survival. They combine theory with case studies concerning resistance, gender, and alternative models of power.

The Mother's of Mexico's Disappeared Organize in the Face of State Violence

Held just four days after the one-year anniversary of the Ayotzinapa disappearances, at least three hundred people attended the International Forum on Disappearances in Mexico in Mexico City from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2015. Social organizations and the Autonomous Metropolitan University Campus Xochimilco brought together families of disappeared persons, human rights activists, government officials, academics, journalists and students for three days of presentations and discussion around the crisis of disappearances in Mexico. Among the participants were dozens of mothers of some of the over 26,000 thousand people who have disappeared since 2006.

We are the Solution: African Women Organize for Land and Seed Sovereignty

Mariama Sonko, third from right, with a women farmers' organization. Photo courtesy of Fahamu.
Mariama Sonko, third from right, with a women farmers' organization. Photo courtesy of Fahamu.

 

Mariama Sonko is a farmer and organizer in Casamance, Senegal. She is the National Coordinator of We Are the Solution, a campaign for food sovereignty led by rural women in West Africa.

Traditional, small-holder peasant agriculture is done by women. Women are the ones who save the seeds – the soul of the peasant population. This is to honor what women have inherited from their ancestors: the conservation of seeds as part of their knowledge to care for the whole family and nourish their communities.

The green revolution introduced GMOs in Africa. Technicians and researchers come to tell our producers about agriculture from the outside. They tell us that these modern varieties of [GMO] seeds are going to increase our yield. So we will produce a lot, fill up our stores – but soon we will be sick and in the cemeteries. Isn’t it better to grow less, eat well, have good health, live a long life, and pay attention to the generations to come? We reject agriculture that pollutes with chemicals, pesticides, GMOs.

Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action Update

Photo courtesy of Women's Earth & Climate Action Network
Photo courtesy of Women's Earth & Climate Action Network
 
From Nigeria to Scotland, Bolivia to Indonesia, women from more than fifty countries across the world took action on September 29th as part of the Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action.
 
Through action recaps, photos, and statements, worldwide women are bringing their voices to the forefront, sharing stories about the climate impacts in their region, solutions they offer, and demands they are making from governments,collectively demonstrating exactly why women are so key to climate justice.
 

Check out the beautiful images here

Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action Update

Photo courtesy of Women's Earth & Climate Action Network
Photo courtesy of Women's Earth & Climate Action Network
From Nigeria to Scotland, Bolivia to Indonesia, women from more than fifty countries across the world took action on September 29th as part of the Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action.
 
Through action recaps, photos, and statements, worldwide women are bringing their voices to the forefront, sharing stories about the climate impacts in their region, solutions they offer, and demands they are making from governments,collectively demonstrating exactly why women are so key to climate justice.
 

Check out the beautiful images here

TRANSFORMING POWER, PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT IN EL SALVADOR

An Interview with Social Movement Leader and Parliamentarian Estela Hernandez

By Beverly Bell

The social movement La Coordinadora is organizing to protect lands and waters - including the Bay of Jiquilisco, pictured here - from corporate development, instead promoting ecological health and sustainable livelihood. Photo: Erika Blumenfeld, EcoViva

La Coordinadora of the Lower Lempa and the Bay of Jiquilisco in El Salvador is a grassroots, community-led organization of 27,000 families in more than 100 communities. It is transforming economic and political power and the health of the environment, across the department of Usulután. Pillars of La Coordinadora are participatory democracy, empowerment of women and youth, and – still in the works - education and health care for all. The communities are generating income through a green economy based on ecological agriculture and fishing. La Coordinadora is working to build food sovereignty, protect ecosystems, and preserve the largest remaining mangrove forest in the area.

Estela Hernandez is a leader of La Coordinadora and its affiliated non-profit organization, the Mangrove Association. She is also an elected member of the national legislature. There, Hernandez sits on the Environment and Climate Change Commission, the body that drafts environmental legislation.

GENDERING PEASANT MOVEMENTS, GENDERING FOOD SOVEREIGNTY

"What peasant and grassroots women want is to build a feminism pertinent to their realities." -Pamela Caro. Photo Credit: Pamela Caro.A problem peasant women face is invisibility in the feminist and women’s movements. A second problem is the weakness with which the food sovereignty concept has dealt with the challenges of feminism.  

To take the second problem first: Latin America has assumed the struggle for food sovereignty as an alternative to the neoliberal economic model. Food sovereignty is based on the conviction that each people has the right to make decisions about its own food systems: about its own eating habits; about its production, marketing, distribution, exchange, and sharing; and about keeping food and seeds in the public sphere. If we establish that food sovereignty is how people decide what to produce and under what conditions, our question from a feminist point of view is, then: how do people make decisions? Who decides how power is organized? Probably, in reality we’ll see that peasant women are in secondary roles in decision-making areas.