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13 March 2017 | | | | | | | | | |

Participation of women: key for the building of peace with social and environmental justice

By CENSAT Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia

March is a month colored with strength and resistance, because in addition to the International Day of Women´s Struggles, we commemorate a year of Berta Cáceres´ murder and today, her legacy in defense of free water, sovereign territories and women leadership continues to be strengthened in numerous territories.

""It is a cosmogonic inconsistency to defend the territory if there are women abused by patriarchy there". Lorena Cabnal [1]

Together with the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Berta confronted the capitalist-patriarchal system and contributed with its strengthening in different organizational processes beyond borders. Despite this important work, Berta was criminalized, by different actors, and then murdered on March 3rd, 2016.

Her actions can be placed in the context of the relentless defense of nature against the current domination model, where the bodies of women and common resources are turned into commodities. Berta´s struggle is a call to question development models based on extractivism and social inequalities, but also a call to question gender roles and to identify and transform those patriarchal practices that prevent an equal participation and that distort the building of people power.

Just as Berta, in the different paths to defend nature, women have played a key historical role, because despite the deepening of extractivism and violence, our resistance initiatives have been kept and strengthened. In our processes, women have questioned the development model, the relationships of power based on gender, and we have built territorial defense proposals based on the recognition of women as political subjects, who have historically contributed with massive transformations.

Situations of criminalization, as those experienced by Berta, are faced as well by Colombian women leaders, since extractivism implies the deepening of patriarchy, which translates into violent behaviors that oppress and hinder their active participation in decision-making spaces and political advocacy work. This situation is seen more clearly in recent times, because we´ve been witnesses of the murder of several women renowned by their work for the building of peace, the defense of the environment and human rights: María Fabiola Jiménez, Martha Pipicano, Cecilia Coicué, Adelinda Gómez, among others.

Now, in response to this situation, it is worth mentioning that there have been efforts by different sectors to consolidate participation proposals, where the voices of women are heard and taken into account, according to the words of Camilo Torres Restrepo: "Let´s insist on what unites us, and forego what separates us". Among these numerous initiatives we find proposals such as Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu, Vicaría del Sur, Movimiento Ríos Vivos, Colectivo por la protección de la Provincia de Sugamuxi, AMMUCALE (Asociación Municipal de Mujeres Campesinas del Municipio de Lebrija), Movilización Mujeres Afrodescendientes por el Cuidado de la Vida y los Territorios Ancestrales (Cauca), Cinturón Occidental Ambiental, Ruta pacífica de las mujeres, COCOMACIA (Consejo Comunitario Mayor de la Asociación Campesina Integral del Atrato), the women process of the Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano and many other historical initiatives based on community organization and local and regional work to take important steps towards the political advocacy of women, who have faced hegemonic powers due to the strength of their leadership and grassroots work.

About this, we need to ask ourselves: How does the building of peace with social and environmental justice transforms our relationships as human beings and with nature? This question, together with others that are more specific, represents a challenge not only for the government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), but also for each of the organizations that defend nature and the territory.

For this reason, as Berta, María Fabiola, Martha, Cecilia and many other women, we call everyone to be aware of the fact that the struggles of women not only imply changes related to gender equality, but they are a step towards the building of a peaceful, inclusive society, far away from divisions between nature and culture, where everyone has a voice and the right to participate.

[1] At the National Meeting of women defenders of life against extractivism (2015)

Imagen: CENSAT Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia. http://censat.org/

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