March 8th is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate all women. Their wisdom, courage and leadership of our diverse movements further the causes of justice, equality and peace. We at Friends of the Earth International renew our solidarity with the countless women around the world who face oppression, war and suffering, and bear the brunt of economic, social and environmental injustice, violence and inequality. Gender equality and the dismantling of the patriarchy are crucial to our vision of a just and free world.
We celebrate the many wonderful women who work with Friends of the Earth International in every sphere.
We celebrate women small-scale food producers including farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people, pastoralists and urban consumers from all corners of the world who came together at the International Forum on Agroecology, in Mali, February 2015. There we pledged to recognize the central role of women in agroecological production and to fight for equal women’s’ rights in every sphere of agroecology, including workers’ and labour rights, access to the Commons, direct access to markets, and control of income.
While we draw inspiration and solace from our friends and comrades who fight for real equality, we express our solidarity with our sisters around the world who stand strong in the name of peace and justice in the most unimaginably difficult of circumstances. March 14th marks four years since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. This is not only a moment to remember and act for the women who have been forced from their homes, who have lost their lives or endured injury and assault, but it is also a moment to remember those women who keep schools and hospitals open in these brutal conditions, who care for the sick and elderly and who continue to spread hope for a brighter and fairer world.
Margaret Sekaggya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, wrote in her 2010 report about the particular risks faced by women who defend the environment and who defend human rights. She wrote “[women] are more at risk of suffering certain forms of violence and other violations, prejudice, exclusion, and repudiation than their male counterparts…the gender-specific nature of violence against women human rights defenders includes greater risk of being subject to sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape.” Women who organise for their rights, who campaign to protect their lands, who create documentaries on corporate or government abuse, are often attacked for their actions. Indeed, the 2012 assessment report of the Mesoamerican initiative of women human rights defenders found that women active in the defence of land, territory and natural resources had the highest number of attacks in the region.
We stand in solidarity with the World March of Women in their International Action in Kurdish territory in Turkey. On the 8 – 17th March women from all over the world will come together to expose and denounce all forms of violence against women and identify the actors promoting oppression, namely fundamentalist religious groups and sectors and neoliberal, multilateral and financial institutions and governments destroying social services and rights.
We are part of the same struggle against the model of accumulation and control over nature and people and the rampant criminalization of social protest and movements. We are part of the same struggle for the rights of all people and to build alternatives together. We celebrate our alliances and connections with the World March of Women and so many women-led organisations, whose unflagging resilience and brave vision continue to inspire us.
Learn more about World March of Women’s International Action
Learn more about the situation of Women Human Rights Defenders