Aura Bogado writes about the lack of media coverage of indigenous women fighting to bring awareness about climate change across the Americas and organizing to defend their lands and waters. She highlights the work of Feministing’s Juliana Britto Schwartz, who launched a short series, Bearing Witness, which envisions climate justice. Here are excerpts:
Indigenous communities and allies have long been fighting powers ten times their size in order to defend our planet. But for their movement to work, people outside of it have to bear witness. When attacking big superpowers like this, it’s not enough for a few people to get arrested for blocking a coal ship for a few hours. Those two people need fifty more people standing on the loading dock in solidarity, one hundred more people Tweeting and Instagramming it, and thousands more signing online petitions, calling legislators, and exploding the reach of their message. The movement for climate justice needs megaphones so that the actions of a few people can reach millions of people. And when millions are watching and taking the lead from those most affected, global leaders will have to listen.
Now, nearly one week into the Paris climate talks, it’s a relief to know that someone is telling these stories. Britto Schwartz kicks her series off highlighting the work of Kichwa women fighting resource extraction in the Ecuadorian rainforest:
[. . .] The Kichwa women, like Patricia, were leaders within the movement and have stood as examples for similar struggles against resource extraction. “Women’s role in the defense of our territory has been fundamental — they came up with the idea that we should fight to protect our land from oil exploration altogether,” Patricia says. “The women — supported by the men — did not offer to negotiate. They demanded that the Ecuadorian government respect their wishes and commit to never explore for oil on our territories.”
[. . .] Bearing Witness then looks at the work of the Garifuna women in Honduras, who are at risk of losing their communities due to more frequent and intense storms, along with rising sea levels. The resulting desperation motivates Garifuna men to migrate to the U.S. — leaving women behind, writes Britto Schwartz, to take up a tremendous amount of work. [. . .] In matrifocal societies like the Garifuna, women are in charge of passing on and protecting ancestral lands, a responsibility which has become increasingly important as their lands are threatened by disasters, drug cartels, and land barons. Women have become experts in organizing their people, cultivating family networks and community alliances to stand up to government powers and multinational companies. [. . .]
The series wraps soon, and you can read it in its entirety on Feministing.