Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Gathering of Women Who Struggle

I’m reporting a women’s event that received scant coverage: The Second Annual International Gathering of Women Who Struggle. 

Did you know that over 3,200 women from 49 countries (none from ASEAN countries though) had come together to proclaim "the most important of rights for all women – the right to live"?

It was organized by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN and often referred to as the Zapatistas), an indigenous women-led rebel group that controls a significant swath of the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas for the last 25 years. 

Since their brief, bold 1994 uprising – they have continued peacefully fighting for autonomy and civil engagement and against patriarchal abuses, capitalist exploitation and gender-based violence, while serving as a model for other popular movements in the region. 

At the said event which started on December 27, 2019 and held in their enclave in Mexico, Zapatistas in brown shirts and green pants, their faces covered with ski masks, guarded the gates with bows and arrows. 

Over four days, visitors slept in tents and attended workshops on sexual trauma, childhood abuse, forced immigration and other "violence that women suffer for the crime of being women”; they also had dance classes, embroidery workshops and self-defense training. 

In her inaugural speech, Comandanta Amada welcomed the "sisters and compañeras," citing the need to "shout to the world our pain and rage that we cannot live freely". Amada urged the women to listen to, learn from and respect each other's different struggles and stories; she also offered "a special embrace" to the families and friends of raped, disappeared and murdered women. 

Her speech was telling: 

“As the Zapatistas that we are, we know that they will give us many examples of women who have advanced, triumphed, won prizes and high salaries – who have been successful, as they put it. We respond by talking about the women whom have been raped, disappeared, murdered. We point out that the rights they talk about above are won by a precious few women above. 

And we respond, we explain, we shout that what is lacking is the most basic and most important of rights for all women: the right to live. We’ve said it many times, compañera and sister, but we’ll repeat it again now: Nobody is going to grant us our right to live and all the other rights we need and deserve. No man – good, bad, normal, or whatever – is going to grant these to us. 

The capitalist system is not going to give them to us, regardless of the laws it passes and the promises it makes. 

We will have to win our right to live, as well as all our other rights, always and everywhere. In other words, for women who struggle, there will be no rest”. 

I support. Lawan tetap lawan.

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