Twenty-six years after the
landmark fourth World Conference on Women In Beijing, Generation Equality was
set up by UN Women as a process to celebrate progress and catalyze further
action to achieve gender equality and women's rights. On day one of Generation
Equality, even before the opening ceremony took place, Count Me In! (CMI!) partner
Urgent Action Fund-Africa presented a strong statement in the digital session
Our Bodies, Our Land: Indigenous Women Human Rights
In! partners dedicated the space to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) who struggle
daily to retain their ancestral land and territory. "We light a candle
in memory of every fallen WHRD targeted, maimed and murdered due to
corporate greed to silence their powerful collective voice demanding justice,"
said Susan Asio, Senior
Programme Officer Economic Justice, of the Urgent Action Fund-Africa
Urgent Action Fund-Africa is a feminist, Pan-African,
rapid response Fund, committed to transforming power relations through
resourcing African feminists and women human rights defenders. WHRDs face many
barriers, Including Gender-blind policies and practices in community
consultation and decision-making processes which give rise to the systematic
exclusion of women.
Subsistence economies are
destroyed when women are forcibly relocated and evicted without compensation,
Ms Asio noted. The Fund has also observed criminalization,
violence, sexual abuse, intimidation and reprisals against WHRDs who act in
defense of their land, territory and the environment. Dissent by communities as
a result of forced relocations is usually met with excessive use of military
Despite these barriers and threats, African women
have sustained resilience in defending their ancestral land and territory,
against destructive extractivism by using a
range of traditional and contemporary feminist movement building strategies.
from Uganda, for example, received a rapid response and catalytic support
that facilitated the women in a rural community to organize, confront
injustices, build collective advocacy and litigation. They resisted
continuation of a Chinese quarrying project that was breaking down houses,
causing mis-carriages and heart complications, disrupting agriculture and
polluting water sources. As a result, the women took legal action seeking
The Count Me In!
consortium believes that gender
justice must be at the forefront of the extractive reform agenda. The
Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions mandates present an opportunity
for the push towards a Pan-African and gendered response to extractives.
CMI! calls on
governments to publicly recognize the important and legitimate work of WHRDs
working in defense of territories and natural resources. Such recognition
should extend to WHRDs in all their diversity, and ensure the protection of
WHRDs working to defend territories and natural resources, and provide an
enabling environment free from violence in accordance with international human
CMI! calls on funders to provide long-term support to WHRDs and women’s organizing,
through flexible multi-year funding, including core and emergency funds, which
can be used for community initiatives advancing feminist and alternative models
of challenging systemic and cultural injustices in extractives work and
environmental and economic rights activism.
CMI! calls on CSOs to engage
in consciousness raising, solidarity and collective action to build strong
movements countering the impact of extractive industries on indigenous and
land-based communities, and lives of defenders of body, land and territory, as
well as monitor and document violations against WHRDs, their organizations and
movements working to defend territories and natural resources, and generate
information on violence and gender-specific impacts against WHRDs.
Credit: Images shown are stills of a video by CMI!
that was presented in the session Our Bodies, Our Land: Indigenous Women Human
Rights Defenders at Generation Equality Forum Paris.