For a Feminism of Sisters of the Land

By Lagalana collage (Cecilia Jiménez)

March has returned, along with its frost and uncertainties, but again we’re filling the streets, raising our voices, shattering the centre ground with our margins and peripheries. Yet another March we are here demanding our rights and making visible everything that affects us. It can’t be good news that this year us sisters believe that this manifesto is more necessary than ever. The situation and issues we’re seeing in our territories are a direct and urgent challenge for us to find the strength and words together. We must create ties and take to the streets. We must never be silent again, never feel alone again.

Today we bring our memories, bodies and voices, without fear, shame or hesitation.

This is for all those who can’t leave their jobs or roles as caregivers today; those who live paralysed by violence, who work day upon day with no rights; those who cannot speak out because they need the wages to provide for their loved ones; those who can’t be seen in a demonstration, who can’t afford to protest. This is also for all those who cannot leave their homes because of physical barriers, suffering or discomfort; those who are locked up in institutions or hospitals. We are far from the discourse of the centres, of the institutions, of academia. We want to be a loudspeaker, a platform for all those that the system expels, exploits, mistreats, or intentionally leaves out.

The coming summer is already in our minds; the drought pains and troubles us. The landscapes in which we have grown up, lived and worked are disappearing. Our physical and sentimental geography is morphing into something else. We do not yet know how to express it; we do not have the words. Yet this manifesto attempts to convey the pain that many of us carry inside us already, a pain that transforms our bodies and relations, our affections and communities. Nevertheless, we will not give space to speeches full of catastrophism and collapse. We will not let sermons full of blame and anger, ones that don’t consider people’s circumstances or vulnerabilities, take root here. We prefer to grow and share from joy. We want to work together towards a different future, to learn and be moved again. We believe that through affection and amazement we will be able to germinate together in new spaces and encounters. For this, we also need to share and name our fragilities, vulnerabilities and sufferings. This may be a good reason to fight and move forward in this climate emergency. We can’t afford discouragement, pessimism and hopelessness.

Sister of the land, just because some do all they can to prevent us from imagining new futures, does not mean that we cannot dream and fight for them.

We are especially worried about the discourses that are returning, romanticising the lives of our mothers and grandmothers, turning them into heroines, concealing a dictatorship full of repression, inequality and violence.

Sister of the land,

our ancestors were women who were forced to work the land, who had no choice, who carried on their backs burdens of sacrifices and silences. We share the territory with oppressed collectives. We cannot forget that violence still lives among us, particularly among the seasonal workers, migrants and trans women who are with us today. Without them we cannot contemplate the struggle. We cannot imagine new habitable and sustainable futures without them and their demands.

We are descendants of all of them and we will also, someday, be ancestors of those to come. We must never forget where we’ve come from, especially in these times when we ask ourselves where we want to go.

Let us not fall into amnesia, let us not walk without memory.

With us we carry genes of resistance: it hurts us that some urban collectives, always from the centre, erase our stories and movements of struggle; they ignore and simplify our debates with the stroke of a pen. The fact that you’re not aware doesn’t mean nothing is happening in our villages, that we aren’t working for change. Just look at all the rural collectives that are tirelessly fighting for a different lifestyle and territory. To believe that there are no struggles or debates in our villages seems to us a very paternalistic, condescending and unfair vision.

Without us, the territory cannot be understood. We cannot remain silent when faced with the measures decreed in the name of development and sustainability. Enough of turning our rural environments into sacrifice zones, into mere larders, landfills or recreational areas for those from the cities.

In our territories we have the tools and knowledge that can help us mitigate the effects of today’s climate emergency. But each year we see more industrial and intensive exploitations in our villages. Macro energy projects are also finding their way into areas of high environmental value without considering those who inhabit the land. We are being expelled from our villages.

We welcome the visibility and new stories increasingly seen in the media. But sometimes our rural realities don’t match what the mirror reflects back to us. We are still unable to make decisions. We don’t have access to decent housing or to land. We don’t have the tools to be able to implement food sovereignty projects. It’s easier to develop an industrial project than an agroecological project that produces food that takes care of our land and doesn’t make us sick.

Sisters of the land:

Who is making decisions for us? Who benefits from the land? Who has the loudspeaker?

In these times of telework we demand landwork.

We want everyone to have access to healthy, local and sustainable food. We want cities and towns where people can easily access food that looks after the landscape. We want everyone who wants to work the land to be able to do so.

Sister of the land,

the threats that endanger us today are still the same as those of the past, even if they come disguised in words like ‘progress’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘prosperity’. We are like those trees that were just another member of our villages. In their shade all the decisions were made, people chatted and shared, those who came were welcomed and those who left for good were bid farewell.

Today’s agri-food system destroys small farms, family projects and agroecological initiatives full of knowledge, relationships and ways of working the land with respect. It makes it impossible to pass farms on from generation to generation, and to incorporate the young people who want to stay in our villages. It accelerates the disappearance of our unique ways of inhabiting the territory and protecting our biodiversity and its ecosystems.

Today we’re here together to raise our voices, to remember that we will not stop fighting to guarantee a dignified land.

Sisters of the land,

no matter how much they want to bring us down, we know that together we will not fall.

Sister of the land,

those of us who have the privilege and the necessary tools should be the first to support our struggles and debates. We can think about how we work, how we organise ourselves, how we name ourselves. We are shaping new narratives and it is essential to talk and think about how we create them.

Because more than ever we need new rural realities full of feminisms, agroecology, diversity, but also — as we said — memory.

Sisters, you’re not alone.

We’re not alone.

Another 8th March, we’re still here.

Today we are more united than ever, standing up, sharing our fears and burying our silence. There are many ways to inhabit the territory, many rural realities that create dialogue, that learn, build, care and welcome. The way we choose is one of sisters of the land, full of feminisms and diversity, agroecology, memory, interdependence, mutual support, hope and joy.

For a feminism of everyone,

For a feminism of sisters of the land.

*The illustration is by La Galana collage (Cecilia Jiménez). You can download it here.

**(This Manifesto was promoted by María Sánchez and Lucía López Marco. Thanks to the advice and contributions of Blanca Casares, Patricia Dopazo, Karina Rocha, Julia Álvarez, Neus Miquel, Elisa Oteros, Colectivo Arterra and Elena Medel.And to so many of you who have sent us your contributions).

***This manifesto was translated into English by Becky Stoakes.

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