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Women together in unison towards 8 March

Environmental federation Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) [1] is mobilising again on 8 March, International Womens Day. The national, regional and global struggles of FoEI member groups are based on the principles of Gender Justice and Dismantling Patriarchy [2] as a key aspect to build social, environmental and economic justice.

On this occasion, Real World Radio asked Latin American and European activists from FoEI to share the agreements built in the past years in the federation to integrate the gender perspective in their organisations and struggles. We also talked about the actions planned in their countries and regions and how they are preparing for such an important day for the feminist movement.

From Tierra Nativa – Friends of the Earth Argentina [7], Wanda Olivares told Real World Radio that the struggle against patriarchy is also a struggle against neoliberalism, as part of a system of oppressions that FoEI strives to change. In this sense, one of the actions oriented to achieve gender justice is to “support the autonomy and collective decision-making of women and minorities, in relation to their lives, bodies and work.”

As part of Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC [8]), one of the lines of work of the member groups is to strengthen alliances with the feminist organisations they work with. At local level, with grassroots groups and at regional level with the World March of Women, which last week published an international declaration for 8M 2022 [9] and the comrades at La Vía Campesina, who launched a global call to action for this 8 March [10].

“In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, as Friends of the Earth comrades we are united by the same slogans, which have been collectively built, developed and reflected upon. These are the struggle against gender-based violence; the struggle for self-determination of our bodies; the defence of our territories; the democratisation of care tasks; sexual freedom; and freedom of gender identity,” said Wanda Olivares.

At least one in three women in the world has been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence in her life [11], according to data from UN Women. This figure does not include sexual harassment, which is estimated to affect 70 % of women at global level. At the same time, gender-based violence worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic [12].

 

 

The members of FoEI are also participating in gender working groups at international level, where they elaborate studies and proposals on a just and feminist transition [14]. They have been promoting capacity-building and exchange experiences since 2018 and lately they have been working in the implementation of a Friends of the Earth International policy on sexual violence and harassment.

Cristina Alonso Saavedra, member of FoE Spain [15], said that the women at Friends of the Earth are taking to the streets [16] and explained that on this 8 March, the different feminist movements of the country are focusing their efforts, first and foremost “against systemic racism, in a country with right-wing and far right-wing political parties that are pushing for discriminatory and punitive laws.”

She also made reference to the historic demand against the systematic violence faced by women “such as physical, emotional, symbolic and institutional violence”, as well as “against the increasing labour instability of women in general and especially women of colour, women who face poverty in every respect, women on the fringes of society, and those historically forgotten within the system.”

 

 

One of the political lines Friends of the Earth is working on with reference to gender justice is its link with food sovereignty. Alonso sums this up in a phrase that also resonates with a report published yesterday by FoEI: “Without grassroots feminism there is no food sovereignty”. [18] The figures and analyses included in this study show that there are 1.6 billion women farmers in the world, who produce 50 % of the world’s food, but own only 2 % of the land.

Bearing in mind that system change is a demand shared by the whole federation, Alonso agrees with Olivares in that the fight is for a system change “where patriarchy, colonialism and extractivism are clearly the cause of inequality and persistent violence.”