The 2019 Women Leading Change workshop is the first in a series of four collaborative Title VI-funded interdisciplinary working groups co-sponsored and hosted by the UF and UA Centers for Latin American Studies.
May 22, 2019 | Dr. Joel Correia | Image: workshop participants and UF faculty
The Center for Latin American Studies hosted Women Leading Change: Human Rights and Environmental Justice in Latin America from April 24-26. The workshop focused on the experiences of Afro-descendant and Indigenous leaders from Buenaventura, Colombia and Sarayaku, Ecuador along with a Paraguayan human rights lawyer, who are driving struggles for socio-environmental justice with broad implications on rights and territory in the Americas.
The workshop opened with a public forum held in Ustler Hall where invited participants from South America shared their work and calls to action with the UF and Gainesville communities. Days two and three focused on identifying the existing strategies each group has used to mobilize for social and environmental justice with attention to developing new approaches for effective communication, strengthening collaborative research, and deepening relations between social movements, academia, and civil society.
Workshop activities revolved around three central questions identified by the participants: ¿Qué es justicia? (What is justice?) ¿Cómo conocemos territorio? (How do we know territory) ¿Derechos para que? (Rights for what?). With these questions in mind, workshop participants discussed their respective efforts to advance justice in their own communities. Deicy Minotta and Miyela Riascos of Buenaventura shared their experiences co-organizing a peaceful protest and paro civico that closed Colombia’s largest shipping port on the Pacific Coast for 21 days to force the state to reconcile with demands for greater Afro-Colombian rights. Hilda Santi and Yaku Viteri of Sarayaku discussed the community’s struggles against oil exploration on their territories. Moreover, they shared Sarayaku’s Kawsak Sacha initiative which argues that the forest is a living being subject to rights and must be free from extractive activities. From Paraguay, Julia Cabello talked about the politics and process of adjudicating Indigenous land rights cases before the Inter-American System and the challenges of implementation after a favorable decision is made.
Participants also joined by videoconference including 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Francia Marquez, Commissioner Angela Salazar of Colombia’s Truth Commission, the Washington Office on Latin America Andes Region Director Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Ruben Kondrup from ESCR-Net, and Seánna Howard, Director of the Human Rights Advocacy Workshop for the University of Arizona’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program. UF faculty and students, including Drs. Simone Athayde and Martha Rosero, participated in workshop activities, as did colleagues from the University of Arizona’s (UA) Center for Latin American Studies, including Director Dr. Marcela Vásquez-León.
The 2019 Women Leading Change workshop is the first in a series of four collaborative Title VI-funded interdisciplinary working groups co-sponsored and hosted by the UF and UA Centers for Latin American Studies. The UF International Center, the Tropical Conservation and Development Program and the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research also cosponsored the event with generous support. The workshop series intends to build our Center’s strengths in human rights and socio-environmental justice with attention to Indigenous and Afro-descendant experiences while also complementing the next Center Conference: Being on Earth to be held in March 2020.