Reflections on the ‘First International, Political, Artistic, Sporting and Cultural Meeting of Women Who Fight’
By Angélica Gómez and Dirce Navarrete (@agateofobia_)
From the 8th-10th of March the women of the EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista National Liberation Army), organized an event in the Caracol de Morelia, municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas. Two colleagues from Fondo Semillas had the chance to be present at this marvellous meeting and we would like to share some of our reflections.
Being in Zapatista territory for the first time was exciting at the beginning and surprising later. Initially we expected the event to be over-capacity due to the quantity of women that were said to be attending. However, once there, we were amazed to observe how well organized and prepared the Zapatista co-workers were. We found nearly 7 thousand diverse women from more than 48 different countries: feminists and non-feminists, indigenous, urban, of all ages, ethnicities and political alliances, all in the same space. Additionally, there were many activities whose planning, security, technicality and logistics were overseen by the Zapatistas, who always had every detail and space prepared.
Photo: Massiel Hernández
In our role as participants we were happy to comply with the patience and cordiality that was asked of us. From the first day we waited around four hours to enter the event, and the rest of the days the lines were long and slow to enter the bathroom, buy food, or bathe. Nonetheless, we waited tolerantly, taking an interest in those around us. Moreover, it allowed us to observe the beautiful landscape and the interactions that were happening between women from across the world. The wait gifted us with the ability to observe the comings and goings of the amount of people there.
During the event more than 300 activities took place including dance, theatre, sport, music, poetry, workshops, talks, discussions, exhibitions and other different exchanges. Many diverse themes concerning the feminist movement were tackled: land and territory, the appropriation of the body, sex work, abortion, sexual rights, sexual diversity, and femicide, among others. The objective was not just to meet each other, but also to appreciate ourselves as women who fight. It was gratifying to see this objective conclusively achieved: we did not just gather; we united.
The word utopia is derived from the Greek word ou, which literally means ‘no-place’ or ‘there is no such place’. If we understand feminism as a political stance that aims to radically transform the place of women in the world – so that they can be part of the world – then it can be said that feminism is not a utopia. Feminism has a place, and that place exists in every world where there are women resisting and fighting against a system of economic and political war that assassinates seven women per day in Mexico alone.
From the beginning of the event, the Zapatista co-workers invited us to listen to, empathise with, and comprehend the other; they showed us that it is possible to listen and respect each other without belittlement, even if we cannot understand certain proposals or share certain positions. They provided us with an example of openness, encouraging us to ‘continue fighting from your own place, on your own time and path, because we all know that we are fighting a common enemy’.
Feminism has a place. It is real when we connect, when we live under the agreement that living is fighting, fighting so that the pain that all women have lived at some point or another, in diverse forms, is never repeated for any woman of any place, ethnicity, or geography.
From Fondo Semillas we would like to share the joy of having been part of this historic moment in the feminist and the Zapatista movements, for the women of Mexico and of the world. We are committed to being part of this process and supporting it so that feminism is no longer a utopia, so that it has a place.
We understand and appreciate the fight that thousands of women and organizations undertake in order to transform lives and change the structures of oppression in the world.
Thank you for the meetings, the smiles, the strength and the wisdom of the Zapatista co-workers. Thank you for teaching us how to live in solidarity with all and for all, as this gives strengths to the movements and battles that encourage our hearts.
Photo: Massiel Hernández