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LATIN AMERICA
For just and equal sustainability
Elsa Chanduví Jaña
12/21/2014
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Women face climate change with demands and proposals.

“Building a sustainable life as an alternative to the extractive model” was, in summary, the proposal of indigenous women, peasants, workers, and feminists who participated in the International Forum on Women and Climate Change for Sustainability of Life, held in Lima, Peru, on December 11.
 
The forum took place in the framework of the People´s Summit on Climate Change, an event held from December 8 to 11, which was a space for discussing the impact of climate change on populations and the environment and for alternative proposals from civil society to leaders gathered at the 20th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20).
 
We require a sustainable model for “self-development” that can face the extractive capitalist model and that prioritizes agroecological production to guarantee food sovereignty, said the participants.
 
Women: the most affected
“Climate change has a different impact on women and men, and women are the most affected because of their socially assigned role. Their disadvantaged position in society with less access to resources and opportunities hinders their development and exercise of their citizenship, which often becomes worse due to violence,”  said the female members of the COP20 Peru Group — Peruvian group of civil society that got together to make proposals to the COP20 — in a document addressed to the People´s Summit.
 
“They are the ones who disproportionately feel the effects of droughts, floods and other disasters, especially those in vulnerable areas of the Andes and the Amazon and peri-urban areas of cities,” they said.
 
With this same belief, from November 28 to 30 the Celendín Women´s Summit was held in the northern Andean region of Cajamarca, site chosen in honor of the struggle of the defenders of the lakes affected by the Yanacocha gold mining company, which seeks to develop the Conga project to which the population is opposed because it would destroy lakes and wetlands.
 
“We are responsible for providing food and water for everyday activities in all areas where we are, even in organizations. We are in charge of caring for children and the helpless and for sustaining rural household economies. Additionally, we are responsible for safeguarding seeds, biodiversity and our cultures, so we have a responsibility to address the critical climate conditions, such as when water sources or forests are depleted or polluted,” said the 120 women leaders, peasants, indigenous and patrolwomen from different areas of the country.
 
“All in all, the care work we do is more every time, often without relatives with whom to share the work because they migrate, often without getting recognized and as a result we increasingly live more precariously," added the women in the final document of the Celendín summit, titled "We´re not droplets, we are a river of women weaving Good Living".
 
Demands and proposals
Salvadoran Martha Benavides of the Global Call to Action against Poverty said at the international forum that “our governments should ask for financing for sustainable development” to “build the sustainable world we need, which is a full life, Good Living.” Knowledge of how to care for the environment is the basis of the sustainability of life, she added.
 
For her part, Denisse Chávez, member of COP20 Peru Group, quoted the manifesto "Women and Climate Change: A necessary approach for sustainability with justice and equality", prepared during the XIII Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting held on November 22 to 25 in Lima.
 
“We propose to channel the responses to climate change through the perspective of sustainability of life, where the care and protection of people and nature are the priorities of any solution to climate change. We argue that partial and economicist solutions, many of which use the work of women, do not contribute to equality and sustainability. We require comprehensive and systemic responses, which include as part of the response changing the conditions that create climate change and the conditions that reproduce inequality between men and women,” says the manifesto.
 
The People´s Summit on Climate Change, under the motto “Change the system, not the climate”, issued the Declaration of Lima, which summarizes the conclusions of the discussion at the event and which was delivered on December 11 by the Political Committee which organized the summit to the Peruvian Minister of the Environment and President of COP20, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
 
“We denounce the capitalist-patriarchal system that supports the oppression and control over the body, work and life of women, promotes sexual violence and trafficking, [and] marginalizes [women] away from various aspects of social and public life”, states the Declaration of Lima.
 
The declaration also suggests: “We must move towards another social division of labor, which eliminates the subordination of women´s work, which does not mask the care work — that makes social reproduction possible — nor subordinates it to the will of the market. We demand a radical change that recognizes reproductive work as the basis of human sustainability and the relationships between people and communities.”
 
For the numerous organizations and thousands of activists from five continents who participated in the alternative summit to the COP20, no action to tackle climate change will be effective or feasible if it is not promoted by effective public policies in favor of small family and peasant farming, agrarian reform, food sovereignty and food security of our people and self-sufficient production that is based on agroecology, that is free of GMOs and pesticides and that is oriented toward human consumption and geared toward the preservation of our biodiversity.
 
The social movements of the world who gathered at the alternative summit — which will be held again in December 2015 in Paris, France —, pledged to continue the struggle from their territories in defense of life, until their demands are met, “until the system is changed, not the climate.” 
—Latinamerica Press.


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People´s Summit on Climate Change will continue the struggle in defense of life, for a just and democratic world. (Photo: Servindi)
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