Lonhlanhla Mthethwa from RWA Swaziland reflects on her experiences of the International Women’s Day celebration organised by the Movement for Justice in El Barrio
Yesterday I participated in a public event that marked the significance of International Women’s Day (8th March). The event was organised by a local association of mainly Latin American women from a movement called, Movement for Justice in El Barrio. They were founded in 2004 and have been fighting to prevent landlords from evicting and displacing them from the apartments that they live in. The landlords wanted to gentrify the apartments for rich people. They shared their struggle against the landlord with us.
The event was quite amazing in that everyone that came to the event was given a red rose. We were told that the red rose symbolised the women’s struggle. Women’s contributions had to be celebrated and the rose showed the importance of building a movement of peace but also of resistance.
The event highlighted the solidarity from the youth in the area, also other popular movements participated. Another very interesting the fact was that all the catering and serving of the food and drinks were done by the men. The public meeting was a celebration of their struggle movement and how they managed to fight for their rights, it showed how the issues we face are common and that the patriarchal system is alive and well throughout the world.
What was key for me from their story was that they involved all their children, their daughters were active alongside of them. They never tired, the kept on mobilising because they realised that it was not going to take one month to get the landlords to back down. Their struggle is now more than 10 years old and they have managed to stop the evictions but they are not resting.
For them it did not matter if they were not literate or they could not speak English – they developed local methods of mobilising and built links so that their message was visible. The other thing that I learnt was that they documented everything, both the successes and the lessons.
They told us how they organised. It included going door to door, mobilising the whole neighbourhood, organising local fund-raising and also included taking care of other. The women in the movement realised that it was necessary to share skills and involved everyone on the decision-making. It was a flat organisation where everyone mattered.
As the RWA we spoke at the meeting. We shared songs of our struggle for land and we spoke about the need for solidarity and despite the fact that International Women’s Day was 100 years ago and it was based on the struggles of working class and rural women for a living wages, for rights and for freedom, that struggle still continues for poor women of Africa and poor women elsewhere.
Speaking at the event in Haarlem, showed the importance on solidarity and building global alliances that strengthen our struggles for another world.
FORWARD TO THE WOMEN’S STRUGGLE! FORWARD!