On May 1st, 2018, four women members of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) took part in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in a public event called “Environmental Justice and Fight against Patriarchy: Body, Territory and Work”, organized by Otros Mundos A.C. The speakers were: Ivana Kulić, from the Center for Environment/ Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina; Rita Uwaka, from Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria; Syeda Rizwana Hazan, from the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association/ Friends of the Bangladesh; and Marília de Madeiros Gonçalvez, from Friends of the Earth Brazil. Each of them talked about the link between the defense of the territory and the struggle for women’s rights in their continents.
The event was part of the activities of the second meeting of FoEI’s Working Group on Gender Justice and Dismantling Patriarchy, which took place from April 30th to May 4th, 2018, in the Ecological Center “Alter Natos” of Otros Mundos A.C. “We seek justice and freedom from all systems that devalue and exploit women, peoples and the environment, including patriarchy, racism, (neo)colonialism, class oppression, capitalism and heteronormativity”, states the federation.
The testimonies of all four speakers shed light on the different impacts that megaprojects have on women’s health and daily lives, not only regarding the direct effects they have on their territories, bodies and work but also the repression and criminalization of their struggle in defense of the territory. The participants talked about the great role women play in the defense of world’s food sovereignty and the injustice they are facing, due to the fact that they don’t have as much access to croplands as men. They helped us understand that “extractivism is rooted in patriarchy and capitalism”, as Rita Uwaka said during her lecture.
The presentations of the four members of FoEI were complemented by the participation of two women from Chiapas, Guadalupe Vásquez Luna, from the grassroots organization La Sociedad Civil Las Abejas de Acteal, and Rosalinda Santiz, from the Formation and Training Center for Women K’inal Antsetik A.C. (CEFOCAM), who shared their vision of craftswomen’s cooperatives as a way of “defending our territory, our lands and our own natural resources”. There was also a presentation by Afro-Colombian feminist Astrid Cuero, who told us about the Afro-Colombian women who fight against mining in her country.