Women and Tree Monocultures

Sexual violence and loss of access to land and water are specific impacts that women face when large-scale tree plantations take over community land. Once established, these industrial plantations interfere with food production and women's ability to move freely on their own land. That is why in many places affected by industrial tree plantations, women take the lead in organizing their communities and defending their territories.

Oil palm company Socfin has meant oppression for affected communities. Yet, women have to confront another patriarchic system. Paramount Chiefs are the custodian of the land according to customary law, which often give men decision-making and ownership power over land.

Oil palm plantations are one of the most unsafe spaces for women, not only because of their vulnerable working status packed with injustices and precarities, but also because of the potential for sexual violence and harassment. (Available in Indonesian).

Can the inclusion of gender-specific policies in the operations of oil palm companies and the RSPO certification scheme do more than cover up the violence and structural patriarchy and racism inherent in the plantation model? How, in such context, do these gender policies unfold?

Patriarchal oppression is inseparable from the industrial plantation model, and it is at the base of how companies generate profits. Companies target women, including due to their fundamental role in community life.

While palm oil companies present themselves as benevolent donors during the pandemic, communities living in and around these plantations tell another story. Activists against industrial oil palm plantations talk about communities’ situation since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Exploitative working conditions in the oil palm plantations’ industry in Indonesia are persistent and the main victims are mostly women. Although this situation is often overlooked, the production process of the world’s largest producer of palm oil is strongly influenced by its existence.

The construction of the Suzano Pulp and Paper mill—along with nearby highways, the constant transport of wood, and the massive influx of workers—has brought a lot of devastation to communities. This is the testimony of an activist who is fighting for the territory.

Interview with Hajaratu Abdullahi from Community Forest Watch in Nigeria who talks about the hardship and misery that the palm oil company Okomu Oil, subsidiary of global palm oil company SocFin, is bringing to communities like hers in Nigeria's Edo state

Land owners in Cote d'Ivoire are trapped in contracts with Dekel Oil, a company that made false promises arguing villagers would become rich by signing contracts to let oil palm monocultures on their land.

This bulletin, on International Women's Day, is a call for direct and radical solidarity with those women who suffer, resist, organize and mobilize against the daily violence and abuse that industrial plantations cause.

From rapes, forced body searches and searches of private spaces, to the risk of losing their lives: this article calls on us not to be accomplices to the violence women living around tree plantations in Cameroon suffer.