Bahia, Brazil, 8-11 September 2016
Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) was part of a Southern African delegation (with support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa-OSISA) that participated at the 13th Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) held in Bahia, Brazil from the 8th to the 11th of September 2016. The theme of the forum was entitled ‘feminist futures: building collective power for rights and justice’.
The overall goal of the forum was to celebrate the gains of the past 20 years by diverse social movements and critically analyse the lessons that could be carried forward. The event managed to bring together more than 1000 delegates from a broad diversity of movements and sectors who collectively strategized for feminist futures, from women’s rights and feminist movements, including Brazilian women’s rights activists, peace , economic justice , environment and human rights movements ,just to mention a few. More information are availble at www.awid.org. What was unique about this space was the active representation of marginalised communities such as young feminist activists, black and afro –descendant women, indigenous women, sex workers, women with disabilities, Trans and inter sex activists as well as migrant activists. The forum was organised through general panel discussions, side sessions and creative platforms where artists were able to express themselves through music, art and poetry.
CNRG participated in specific side sessions which were hosted by AWID, where female human rights defenders were sharing their experiences – some had their rights violated by mine security officials, whilst defending their territories. The moving testimonies from the women human rights defenders from Latin America, Africa and South East Asia showed how women across the world shared common struggles in confronting sometimes unlimited corporate power, hence the need to develop common and sustainable strategies in ensuring that people’s livelihoods are protected from the mining companies.
The learning curve for CNRG at the forum was the need to mainstream the rights based approach in its programming, including identifying ways of engaging with human rights lawyers for litigation purposes so as to ensure that the survivors of violence inflicted by mining companies and state security agents are compensated. Furthermore, one of the key highlights was the need for civil society to take advantage of the upcoming binding treaty on Business and Human Rights at the United Nations level, which communities can utilize to hold mining companies accountable.
CNRG also took part in a side session organised by FEMNET(a Pan African Women’s Rights Organization based in Kenya ), where the focus was on African women and resources, taking into account the increasing shrinking donor aid and the need to think outside the box towards financing for women’s rights. African women’s rights activists were challenged to come up with innovative ways of mobilising resources, including pushing their governments to be accountable so that local funding could be channelled for development work. Secondly, African women’s rights activists were also challenged to start engaging in the African Philanthropy discourse in order to ensure that they play a key role in mobilising local resources for the benefit of African women.
Through AWID and like minded spaces CNRG will continue to document and share its findings on how women human rights defenders working in the mining communities in Zimbabwe strive to defend their natural resources and territories in order to create a safe society where communities will finally benefit of their resources for their families and future generations.