Women resisting extractivism and defending life and territory in Latin America commemorated with special map on Women’s Day

Acknowl-ej has co-created a map with the Latin-American Network of Women Defending Social and Environmental Rights and the Colombian NGO CENSAT-Agua Viva Friends of the Earth Colombia to visibilize the struggles of women in Latin-America against mining and in defense of life, dignity and territory.

The map “Latin-American Women Weaving Territories” was launched today March 8th, to commemorate International Women’s Day and highlights 21 conflicts across the continent along with the testimonies of the fearless women who share their personal stories, the impacts they suffer as well as the alternatives they are putting into place.

Daniela Rojas of CENSAT, Agua Viva, explains that the map aims to make the struggles of women visible “This continent is a hotbed of territorial struggles where women are often the main protagonists. This fight for the health of our territories and our bodies is fundamental to stop the extractivist push enveloping Latin America. What better day to pay homage to these women? The 8th of March is a day of resistance, a day to commemorate the role of women in the herstory of humanity”.

The women who speak out in defense of nature and territory often put their lives at risk in the process. According to Global Witness of the 185 environmental defenders killed worldwide in 2015, 122 were in Latin America. Several cases in the map demonstrate the different forms of violence suffered by women due to extractive activities. The assassination of women activists, for example, most recently Laura Leonor Vasquez Pineda, shot dead for her resistance to the El Escobal/San Rafael gold and silver mine in Guatemala, are part of a pattern of persecution that is being denounced as femicide. The map is an initiative of the ACKnowl-EJ (Activist-Academic Co-Production of Knowledge for Environmental Justice) project (www.acknowlej.org) and a contribution to the Atlas of Environmental Justice (www.ejatlas.org) both coordinated at UAB.

According to ACKnowl-EJ Coordinator and EJatlas Director, Dr. Leah Temper “The map makes evident the link between violence and domination against nature and violence against women. But it also dispels the myth that these women are passive victims. We see that mines are being stopped as a result of their activism. For example the Tambor mine in Guatemala was recently suspended and in PiedrasTolima Colombia group of women were the force behind the first citizen organized referendum on a mining project in the country.

According to Dr. Mariana Walter, a researcher with acknowl-ej, “the conflicts show the enormous pressure that extractive activities and the governments that promote them have on the lives of women. Their tenacity and struggle is for a better future for all of us.”

According to Rosa Govela, a network member affected by the Tuligtic mine in Puebla Mexico, “We resist because when we can no longer produce food on the land, we suffer the anguish of having nothing to feed our children. We also see other forms of violence increase, including prostitution, the sale of alcohol, domestic violence and human trafficking, and the break-down of relations of care.”

According to another network member from Molletura. Despite the increased violence and sexism, we have lost the fear to speak out. We have begun to create networks with women from other communities and to share knowledge about ecological initiatives, and to work on raising public awareness. Through this we are continually increasing our capacity as radical communicators and art-based practices.”

See the map here: http://ejatlas.org/featured/mujeres

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