Feminism Isn’t Like Pepper You Sprinkle on Your Event
The liberation of women is not an act of charity. It is not the result of a humanitarian or compassionate position. It is a fundamental necessity for change, for a revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a condition for its success. – Graca Sambo (Mozambique)
The blood that runs through our veins is like the water that travels through Mother Earth. Our bones are like the rocks. Our mother, the Earth, is alive like our bodies. – Estévan Arellano (Northern New Mexico)
We feminists say: This is my body. This is my land. This is my territory. We as women must resist, defend, articulate, heal and transform our communities. – Sandra Moran (Guatemala)
New Mexico Con Mujeres is the feminism project of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP). SWOP is a 35-year-old racial-, climate- and gender-justice organization based in Albuquerque. One year ago, SWOP intentionally made gender justice part of its mission and launched an intersectional campaign focused on justice for women, locally and globally.
Con Mujeres defines feminism as a lens that is used to understand the responsibilities toward the sacred system of life. We believe and are guided by the laws of Mother Earth —laws of nature that have been violated to the point of degradation and destruction. Women are the stewards of our water, land, air and seeds. To summarize a presentation by feminist scholar Bell Hooks: “… there has been a soul surgery, a cultural theft done to our planet, and much money has been made out of the wreckage of civilizations … we must reclaim and we must heal.” Climate justice and gender justice are intrinsically connected.
Con Mujeres’ feminism is galvanized when we see statistics presented by New Mexico Women.org in their Indicators Report: “77 percent of New Mexico households are headed by women,” “48 percent of New Mexico women ages 16-64 work full-time and year-round,” and “New Mexico women earn 79 cents for every $1 earned by men.” We are pushed to strategy and action when we read: “The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex- male partners during that time was 11,766.” Or: “Worldwide, 30 percent of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner; globally, as many as 38 percent of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.” (“30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It’s An Epidemic,” by Alanna Vagianos, Huffington Post, Feb. 13, 2015
Locally, Con Mujeres has gathered more than a thousand signatures, social media likes and twitter followers who demand economic justice – equal pay, healthful jobs and reversal of trends in low-wage work; safety – an end to violence in the home, schools and streets; safe, respectful and responsible protection by law enforcement; health care – access to safe, affordable health care and protection from assaults on reproductive health; child care – access to early childhood education and affordable childcare; and environmental justice—clean air, water and land. Writing letters to the editor and opinion editorials and speaking to elected officials has been part of our local focus. Engaging with organizations that support women, family and community, such as Young Women United, Kalpulli Ixkalli, Health Equity Partnership, Mujeres Colectiva, 7th Direction, Coalition for Choice, NOW, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Strong Families and Women’s Equality Center, helps inform Con Mujeres’ goals and work.
SWOP has been a member of Grass Roots Global Justice and World March of Women (WMW) since 2014. Con Mujeres joined the 65-plus chapters of the WMW in Africa, Europe and South America, and we work in conjunction with more than 20 social justice organizations nationally. All address the inequity of women working in sweatshops and express support for rural agricultural women. We have called for stopping violence against women in the private and public spheres.
Our feminist focus is to examine the roots, mechanisms and effects of misogyny and sexism and to educate by deconstructing patriarchy and colonialism. Con Mujeres has joined with the WMW in a call for action, research, study and implementation of a feminist economy, not only equity in pay but to replace our destructive extractive economy with a restorative, regenerative one.
Con Mujeres recognizes the power of the personal narratives for informing and advancing policy, justice and change. We produce social media and organize study groups, healing circles and public actions. We believe that the sacred power we possess is made up of our innate warrior, erotic, creative and nurturing strengths. We are presently involved with the investigation into the unsolved murders and mass burial of 11 young women of color who were discovered in 2008 in the West Mesa area of Albuquerque.
Con Mujeres knows that women have the agency and the responsibility to lead and to be in the forefront of flipping the patriarchal paradigm on its head for the love and life of our mother, our planet and our people.
Beva Sánchez-Padilla is an organizer of the Con Mujeres campaign at SouthWest Organizing Project. 505.247.8832, www.swop.net