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Defending Human Rights
By Lydia Simas
April 16th, 2015
People from community organizations, immigrants groups, longtime Grassroots supporters and folks wanting to connect local social justice work with international movements filled the room on Monday night. On the floor at the center of a big circle of filled chairs was an arrangement of candles, flowers, seeds, soil and flags representing the vibrant social movements present in the room, both from the local Boston area and from as far as Mozambique and Nicaragua. We were all together to celebrate the upcoming International Day of Peasants Struggle (April 17), to hear two powerful women speak about international movements for peasants’ and women’s rights, and to make local-global links.
Grassroots International is hard at work across the U.S. and beyond putting issues such as climate justice, food sovereignty, resource rights, Palestine, women’s leadership—even when they are controversial or unpopular—into the limelight.
Spreading the word is a key strategy we use to advance resource rights, particularly when it comes to connecting our Global South partners to sources of solidarity, funding and support, and making changes in policies here in the U.S. We do more than give grants; we build solidarity right here in the U.S. for our partners and their social movements. It is also a key reason why funders and donors choose Grassroots International as a vehicle to support them.
By Gail Bambrick
March 30th, 2015
We share planet Earth with nearly 7.3 billion people. By 2050, there will be 9.6 billion of us, according to the United Nations. That’s a gain of one person every 15 seconds—or about 74 million more people each year—and each another mouth to feed.
Some claim we need to increase world food production by 70 percent to avoid future shortages, especially in developing countries, where the greatest population increases are expected over the next 35 years. Are they right? It’s a question that many, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Population Institute, are raising.
For several months brave activists and residents have built protest tents outside of the Jerusalem gate in Eizaria. The Israeli military has destroyed their tents 11 times—but each time the determined activists build them again. They are saying no to an Israeli plan remove 2,500 Bedouins shepherds from their land, their homes and their traditional way of life while also displacing fellow Palestinians in Abu Dis and Eizaria. What will Israel do with the land in an area they term “E1” to the North and East of Jerusalem? Expand its largest illegal settlement: Maale Adumin.
According to our partner the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), approximately 10,000 families in the city of Altamira in Brazil will be directly affected by the flooding and subsequent lake created from the construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam. Meanwhile Norte Energia, the company responsible for this mega-project, has only built 4,100 poorly-constructed houses for the displaced without any other infrastructure like schools, medical facilities, and public transportation for the displaced communities. These are only a few of the reasons is why hundreds of people came together on March 11 to protest against the Belo Monte dam.
Grassroots International celebrates the courageous work of frontline women defending the human rights of peasant and indigenous women around the world. One of these women is Yazmín López, a national coordinator for the Council for the Integral Development of the Peasant Woman (CODIMCA). A partner of Grassroots International, CODIMCA is the lead organization for the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, and one of the first peasant women-led organizations formed in Honduras with the explicit objective of reclaiming women’s land rights. Below is an excerpt of my interview with Yazmín.
What inspires you to work for women’s rights in Honduras?
The following is an article on a recent event in New York City co-sponsored by United Methodist Women which brought women from around the globe to exchange information on women’s rights and the international evolution of women’s status. The event coincided with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Highlighted in the article is Esperanza Cardona, coordinator of the National Women’s Commission of La Via Campesina in Honduras, and a Grassroots International partner.
In some ethnic cultures in Cameroon, a woman whose husband dies is isolated in a dark room for three days, with only the presence of other widows for company.
International Women’s Day (March 8) celebrates the power and struggle of women all over the world. There are so many stories of women’s strength, inspiration and bold leadership in the work of our partners and grantees. Eighty-eight percent of the groups that Grassroots International supports work to promote women’s rights. Here are just some of the women-led projects that we have supported over the past year.
Humanity cannot solve its problems with one hand effectively tied behind its back. Yet, given the state of women’s rights globally, this is metaphorically the case. One of the guiding principles of Grassroots International's work is the recognition and support of women’s agency in the struggle for justice and liberation – not just to advance women’s leadership (though that is a goal) but also because women’s engagement and leadership are necessary to push us all forward.
In the United States we’ve spent months zeroing in on the reality of police brutality against Black people. We’ve been grateful to see and take part in a growing movement that addresses structural racism—pointing out that Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police, face institutional racism, and breathe more polluted air.
In the Black nation of Haiti, too, there has been a systematic dismissal of the value of Black lives and US policy has been deeply implicated in interventions that slaughter the interests of Haiti’s people in favor of a narrow elite.