Raquel Luna –  After our last dossier about reclaiming democracy, we take a closer look at the role of a group of persons that is perceived as a minority in society but it is not. It includes half of the world’s population. Women across the world experience systematically that their rights are challenged… when not simply, up for grabs.

The dossier of the Brennpunkt 314 ponders on the role of women and development from different angles and continents. The articles follow the role of women working for development in diverse areas: as farmers, as human rights defenders, as rebellious artists, as communicators and community builders, as caretakers, and as straightforward feminists with a clear criticism to patriarchy and capitalism.

The oppression of women materializes in restrictions to own territory (according to the World Bank report of 2019, in half of the world women are denied equal access to land and property rights despite laws), own a voice (even in Europe the right to vote was acquired in the 20th century, access to education has been largely and historically restricted) and even to own their body (the access to safe and legal abortion, the question of safe spaces for women, domestic violence as a minor crime, and the existence of femicides are all object of debate even in the developed world).

When women are challenged in their right to own (own land, own voice, or own your body), the political is deeply personal. The ownership of land (property rights) is the pillar to exist in capitalism. The ownership of voice is the pillar to exist in the political sphere of society. The ownership of body is the pillar to existence itself. What is denied to women is their own existence beyond being mere objects.

The oppression of women, when crossing intersectionalities (nationality, skin color, economic class, among others), becomes dismal. The struggles of middle case white women remain real and challenging, despite all the advances during the last century… Still, distant to the extreme realities of women with “indigenous origins” in rural areas in the global south (and to some extent, within the developed countries).

Women’s struggles are largely seen in the scientific and political sphere as of a lower nature: something not worthy to talk about or something to keep in the personal-domestic-intimate space. They are even less noteworthy when crossing intersectionalities. Perhaps that is why the call of most of the articles is that of the recognition and visibility of: women’s endeavors, women’s criticism of the system of capitalism and patriarchy, and women’s practical alternatives beyond capitalism and patriarchy. This visibility with an awareness of the particular intersectionalities.

Just as nature, women appear in the current system, as territories to occupy (if they are not already occupied). Feminists argue that the defense of the Earth (la Terra Madre, la Pachamama, Gaia, etc.) is an extension of the same plight as that of the defense of women’s rights. Then, women present with their voices and bodies and selves, solutions that attempt a holistic understanding of the current existential crises through the convergence of struggles.