March is a month of struggle and resistance for Friends of the Earth International marked by the one-year anniversary of Berta Cáceres’ murder on 2nd March and International Women’s Day of Struggle on 8th March.
A year ago, our comrade Berta Cáceres, a Lenca Indigenous activist, was murdered in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, for leading the collective struggle of COPINH and the Lenca People in defence of their lands, rivers and forest from the threat of mega dams on the Gualcarque River. The importance and character of this territory for the Lenca people is conveyed in Berta’s powerful words:
“This mountain region has a strong relationship with the Lenca people, the forests are alive, the mountains are alive. This is a live river that is threatened by the construction of six hydroelectric dams… From the Lenca cosmovision, water is a fundamental element, just like land is part of balance and creation, the spirits live in the water. That is why it is crucial to respect and care for the water as a being just like us.”
Berta taught us that the fight to protect our territories goes hand in hand with the struggle against the capitalist and patriarchal system that exploits and oppresses women. As corporations guarantee capital accumulation and profit through land grabbing, the fencing off and privatising of community-managed forests and biodiversity and appropriation of water sources, women are subjected to increased levels of systemic violence and repression. Both the environment and women’s work are treated as infinite resources available for corporate exploitation, particularly in times of world economic crisis.
Peasant, grassroots, indigenous and working class women in Honduras and around the world, like Berta, self-organize to oppose the destruction of their territories and communities. Yet in doing so they are met with systematic persecution, abuses, threats and death by corporations and State actors. Despite this repression, women resist the patriarchal domination of their bodies, lives and sexuality, and stand up as political subjects to assert people’s and women’s rights and defend their livelihoods. Women are building solidarity, struggling collectively for autonomy and reconstructing harmonious and reciprocal relationships between their people and the environment.
Friends of the Earth International, as a federation committed to environmental, social, economic and gender justice, demands justice for Berta and the many women who have been murdered for defending their livelihoods and the environment. We denounce the constant violation of rights and the persistent lack of justice. We expose the drivers of attacks against women, indigenous people, social movements and grassroots communities worldwide and campaign to put an end to impunity.
The current context is one of a patriarchal, misogynist, xenophobic, racist, right wing offensive which erodes and erases the rights of women, mainly those from the working classes, peasants, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and popular movements. We will work together with our allies from the feminist and other social movements to advance our vision of the world based on gender justice, opposing all forms of domination and exploitation.
At the 2016 Biennial General Assembly, Friends of the Earth International committed to working towards dismantling patriarchy. We believe this is key to achieving system change. We will fight the exploitation of women´s reproductive and productive work that is at the core of the current capitalist, patriarchal and racist system. We will fight all forms of violence used to control women’s lives, bodies and work.
From 2nd to 8th March 2017, Friends of the Earth International member groups will mobilize with allies in a week of action to expose the perpetrators of violence against women and our communities. On the streets and through social media we will highlight our collective struggle against the capitalist control of our territories and the patriarchal oppression of women.
Berta’s legacy inspires us and gives us the strength to continue the collective struggle. #JusticeForBerta