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Latin America: the land and women are not a territory of conquest or exploitation

Latin America: the land and women are not a territory of conquest or exploitation


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By Leny Olivera

As the climate threat grows, the risks that women have to face also grow, but the struggle of Doña María Eugenia and many women is something worth continuing to do. Being able to live collectively organized in an economically accessible territory, generates the material and emotional conditions that have greatly changed their lives and as Doña María Eugenia says: “Sometimes as they say, the community is not worth fighting like this, I say, in spite of everything it is worth it because here we are better than in other places. "So yes.

Climate change has a greater impact on women.

It has a direct and amplifying effect on the violence that affects the lives of women, despite being, according to some studies, those that have the least impact on the environment in relation to men.

Women historically resisted against the causes and roots of the climate crisis, fighting from everyday life to directly challenging corporations, mining companies, governments, which attack their community and their bodies. This resistance is a rejection of the impacts of the patriarchal capitalist system: wars, extreme poverty, social injustice, exploitation, occupations and the forced dispossession of land by the extractive industries and the economy based on fossil fuels. These impacts now include climate change and its disasters, where it is women who take on more responsibilities and work to continue surviving.

As Silvia Federici says, “… [women] have been made to feel more responsible for the reproduction of their families. They are the ones who must ensure that their children have food, often without eating themselves, and who make sure that the elderly and the sick are cared for ”. Living in places of disaster and extractive activity not only implies more work on the backs of women, it also exposes us to more dangers - living in permanent harassment, sexual violence and in trafficking networks.

What does fighting mean for a woman?

Margarita Aquino, a colleague from the National Network of Women in Defense of Mother Earth directly affected by mining, stated “… women are willing to defend and put our bodies in resistance, it is not possible that this system of extractive and patriarchal development intend to impose and decide on our territory just as they impose decisions on our bodies ”.

In Latin America, where "development" very often involves these types of relationships that attack the land and people; women fight, even if it means risking their lives, because they know they have nothing more to lose in the midst of so much violence. Doña Máxima lives next to the Blue Lagoon, in the vicinity of one of the largest gold producers in South America: the Yanacocha mining company in Peru. This company has brutally tried to evict her because there is gold on her land, she has been resisting four years of litigation and her life is in danger. She says "I am poor and illiterate, but I know that our lagoon and the mountains are our true treasure, and I will fight so that the Conga project does not destroy them."

Not all women are directly affected by the dynamics of an extractivist economy like Doña Máxima or Margarita, but no woman is spared from facing multiple other forms of violence that this system hides according to our economic, social and ethnic condition.


Joining forces to continue fighting from María Auxiliadora

In Bolivia, where we face many challenges to fight violence against women and, on the other hand, the impacts of climate change, the María Auxiliadora community offers us an experience on resistance from women. Together with Carey (photographer) we spent some time last year, to understand and document the experience of four women who live and lead the community. The women of María Auxiliadora fight for a territory where the experience is collective as an alternative to face the commercialization of the land, the crisis caused by the capitalist development model, the violence that women experience, and the multiple and complex impacts of change. climate.

This initiative arose from the violence experienced by women, especially those who do not have a home of their own - they and their children are at a greater disadvantage and more exposed to violence from their partners.

Thus, the women of María Auxiliadora opted for living in a collective territory, guided in practice by certain principles: the house cannot be rented, sold or divided in case of separation or divorce, when a woman is being attacked; There is a social control mechanism to intervene and take action, community decisions are made in assembly and commitment is required to carry out collective tasks.

In addition to these principles, the community has an environmental focus - urban gardens to produce food in the community, its own management system in the distribution and quality of water and dry toilets. Any effort that wants to stop the climate crisis and look for alternatives that do not reproduce the impacts of this development model, requires a real participation of women and men. Despite the fact that the Bolivian constitution includes a commitment to equal participation between men and women, in practice a physical presence of women is only expected because decisions depend on the men (the organization, the party or other areas).

The María Auxiliadora community decided that women should assume the most important positions to ensure that their demands are included, however, despite this, it is not easy.

There are many challenges as stated by Doña María Eugenia, former president of the community: “One thinks that being a leader is something important but it is more responsibility and with problems it becomes bitter. I feel happy to fight, I feel that people value me. But at the same time I have ended up very hurt, they have discriminated against me. The struggle to be a leader is not easy, there are stones in the way ”. These “stones” include and increase the threat of violence towards Doña María Eugenia and her fellow leaders: “… They yelled at me about everything because I had no partner, they told me that I am not a family woman, that I am a woman who is looking for men, They insulted me, discriminated against me, even in front of the FELCC police a man hit me, hit me ... "

The fact that a woman is occupied by meetings and trips, or that they interact with other people, represents a conflict to exercise violence against her, that violence lived Doña María Eugenia: “(My ex-husband) was a selfish person, to him He liked that they help only him and not the others ... The next one, he has locked me up because it was the nursery meeting, we had a meeting and that is why I was late at 10 and everything was closed. ... as Doña Lucy was building she had straws under the stands, there I slept with the puppy ... "

This type of behavior reflects that they are predominant attitudes - deeply ingrained in society - that consider women as property available to exploit for their benefit. The fight for the property, exploitation and invasion of women's bodies can be compared to the threats our planet faces from the current predatory economic model. In the same way, the violence that women (like María Eugenia) experience in resistance both inside and outside their homes, and the violence to which they are exposed when they fight for a collective territory, are two sides of the same coin.

Cultivating resistance and intensifying the fight

The capitalist development model exploits the land and its resources in order to obtain immense profits for a small number of people, at the expense of the work of the majority depriving them of a decent life.

Faced with the great challenge of changing this capitalist and patriarchal development model, urban gardens, the promotion of sustainable and healthy food and agriculture for collective benefit represent an alternative.

In impoverished urban areas like María Auxiliadora, they are increasingly important as the impacts of climate change will drive more migrants to peri-urban areas like this one. María Eugenia and the other women we spend time with in the community grow their own food and are encouraged by the added benefits and food security that their gardens provide.

The fight to produce urban gardens in a collective territory, the fight to exercise a real and active participation of women in society, the fight against violence against women and the fight against climate change of the extractivist industry, all are acts of resistance against the patriarchal system that devalues ​​and abuses women as it does with the land and its resources. Women like those of María Auxiliadora, or those who resist the extractivist impacts of the global South, are the most affected by this structural violence.

As the climate threat grows, the risks that women have to face also grow, but the struggle of Doña María Eugenia and many women is something worth continuing to do.

Being able to live collectively organized in an economically accessible territory, generates the material and emotional conditions that have greatly changed their lives and as Doña María Eugenia says: “Sometimes as they say, the community is not worth fighting like this, I say, despite everything it is worth it because here we are better than in other places "

Towns on the Way


Video: A Land So Strange Cabeza de Vacas Journey Across Sixteenth Century America (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Jerriel

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  2. Kesar

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  3. JoJoll

    So what? some kind of nonsense ...

  4. Mezilabar

    Thanks to the author for an excellent post. I read it very carefully, found a lot of important things for myself.

  5. Alroy

    Sorry to interrupt you, there is a proposal to take a different path.



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