Women in Resistance

When forests are destroyed, women in forest-dependent communities are hit hard: Their living conditions are particularly precarious; and providing food, medicine, materials and clean water becomes even harder. The traditional knowledge and wisdom that women pass down from generation to generation are also at risk. That is why women are often on the frontlines of the resistance to forest destruction.

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?

This International Women’s Day we share a message, a series of articles from the WRM bulletin, and a recent video made by the Informal Alliance Against Oil Palm Plantations in Central and West Africa.

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.

The video “NO to violence against women and girls living in and around oil palm plantations” denounces the violence against women in West and Central Africa whose lands have been invaded by industrial oil palm plantations.

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.

With the Covid-19 crisis, the initiatives of movements and collectives based on feminist economics have gained strength. Feminist economics leads us to reflect on the updated mechanisms of control, while continuing to affirm the capacity for resistance and reconstruction of bodies in movement.

The inter-dependencies in and among communities with their life spaces and practices sheds light to the conservation practices of forest communities. And within these interdependencies lie the stories of women.

Women, particularly those who depend on forests for their livelihoods and sustenance, face many struggles.

Women’s struggle for full and dignified recognition of their lives and territories starts with not allowing the extractive model to progress. However, it must be resolved by the need for women to be able to make decisions to strengthen collective political control.