Feminist Declaration: From the Americas Social Forum in Guatemala
Women from across the Americas gathered at the Social Forum in Guatemala, October 7-12, 2008, and released the following declaration. Just Associates: Feminist Movement Building published this version, 2040 S Street NW 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009, www.justassociates.org
As feminists, we know that our everyday realities are marked by the oppressive mandates of a patriarchal capitalist system that reinforces inequality as a natural and inevitable fact of life and institutionalizes control over our sexuality, reproductive rights and economic labor.
This system excludes women from decision-making in both public and private spheres, and responds to any challenge with the use of violence against our bodies, criminalization, smear campaigns, and repression against our movements.
In its neo-liberal stage, this system of unchecked wealth positions the market and financial interests as regulators of our lives and our social relations, exploiting natural resources, privatizing and destroying our sources of life, putting millions of people at risk, and pushing women into forced migrations, condemning us to further exploitation and poverty.
In order to impose and sustain itself, the patriarchal capitalist system resorts to militarization and an ever increasing arms race; it promotes genocidal confrontations that take the lives of women as a bounty of war; it expels women into exile, forcing us to live as political refugees; it treats with impunity the murders of women and other criminal acts against humanity that occur on a daily basis.
As feminists, we propose deep and radical transformations in the way that human beings relate to each other and to nature, in order to ensure a good quality of life for all. A meaningful quality of life recognizes our contributions in the economic and reproductive dimensions as well as our political participation both in civil society and as part of the State. A Good Life (tz k'aslemal), must be based on a just and equal distribution of power.
These transformations are made by developing agreements and alliances that respect our autonomy and diversity within the framework of a democracy that encompasses all spheres of life, from the intimate and domestic spaces to workplace, political and public spaces. As women, we demand the right to make decisions freely over our own lives, bodies, sexuality, and the lands in which we live, with their natural and cultural riches.
We believe that in order to make these transformations real, we can build alliances only with those movements, actors and individuals:
Who include respect for the individual and collective autonomy of women in their political agendas, as well as possibilities for the full exercise of our rights - especially those most at risk such as sexual and reproductive rights - and will not compromise those rights in order to gain or solidify their own power.
Who define socioeconomic reorganization in such a way that society's sustainability and reproduction no longer rests on the exploitation of women; who reject slavery and servitude, for example, in factory assembly plants, in household work in particular, and in situations where women are trafficked internally and across borders.
Who refuse to tolerate racist, sexist and macho practices that are part of daily life, or that occur within their organizations; that they commit to a pact of non-violence and equality.
Who are willing to examine critically their own thinking and transform their ideas and challenge fundamentalism of all kinds, questioning hetero-reality and the imposition of norms and stereotypes that subordinate women.
Who fight for a secular state that will guarantee and uphold all rights, protect sovereignties, cover basic necessities, and ensure a good quality of life for the entire population.
Who will recognize and integrate our proposals - proposals made by indigenous women and peoples, youth, black women, lesbians and transgender persons, women with disabilities, women who live with HIV/AIDS, elder women and children. Who will not favor one group or struggle over another because they recognize that all individuals and all struggles for freedom are interdependent in this process of building another world.
We reject all acts of violence against women and oppose the criminalization of abortion and the penalization of all of us who fight for its legalization.
We stand in solidarity with our feminist sisters in Nicaragua who are being harassed and politically persecuted. In condemning these acts, we declare that a government cannot consider itself to represent the left if it holds power due to political pacts made with Somoza's heirs, if it criminalizes feminist actions while treating with impunity cases of sexual abuse in which its government officials have been implicated, and if it condemns hundreds of women to death by eliminating the right to therapeutic abortion.
We also affirm our support and solidarity with our sisters who stand in resistance against mining companies and mega-projects, who are being persecuted for their involvement in local-level consultation and community participation efforts and for their legitimate and legal opposition to the exploitation of their natural resources.
We demand the release and safe return to their families of all of the disappeared, as well as the liberation of all political prisoners held by the current regime governing Mexico.
We stand in solidarity with the women of Haiti and we reject the violence provoked by the military forces occupying the country, such as the Kaibil Elite Brigade, well known for its role in the genocide that occurred during the armed conflict in Guatemala.
We recognize and honor the history and contributions of a diversity of feminist activists, particularly of indigenous women activists through their cultural, linguistic, social, and political resistance and action.
We believe that when people refuse to discuss the inconsistencies between the discourse and practice of those who claim to be on the left, the transformations that are urgently needed in our societies are only further delayed.
The political struggle must be ethical. For
this reason, we will continue supporting the development of social
movements, providing critical input and analysis, and defending
the autonomy and further strengthening of the feminist movement.