wealthiest nations, often lack sufficient access to the most basic conditions of life: food, water and shelter. They stagger under the burden of unending, undervalued and underpaid work. They experience devastating violence, inflicted upon them by intimate partners, by strangers, and by their communities, as well as by state actors, the military and occupation forces. Discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation undermines women’s right to self-determination and to full and free expression of their humanity. Women are unable to secure their own health and that of their families. Their decisions about whether, when, and in what circumstances to bear children are too often not their own. Despite decades of conferences, declarations, international conventions and determined organizing, human rights and human security remain distant goals for far too many of the world’s women.
In our collective conversations, we came to unanimous agreement about the leading role the United States has played in undermining and distorting local and national economies, monopolizing access to resources, imposing its political will, and initiating devastating wars and invasions. We were clear that these are issues of critical importance and immediate concern to women in the current political climate, as the world’s most powerful nation fuels a global descent into a state of permanent war. While international activists called on their U.S. sisters to identify and assume a leadership role in fashioning a more effective resistance movement to U.S. policy, we were reminded by U.S. activists that multiple challenges within the United States continue to subvert the emergence of a well-organized, dynamic transnational, transformational anti-racist and anti-imperialist women’s movement.
Our reflections on the state of the world and our critique of the United States were grounded in workshops and sessions that provided a strong historical context for the current crisis. Our indigenous sisters from North, Central and South America reminded us that the global theft and exploitation of land and resources, and the destruction of peoples, dates back hundreds of years, having shaped the modern system of nation states. These processes have generally been interwoven with militarism and justifying religious ideologies. But the particular forms of economic, social, and cultural globalization of the past several decades has led to the aggressive privatization of social and environmental resources and resulted in the subjugation of peoples, objects, processes, and relationships to the demands of capital. Women around the globe are acutely aware of the massive power accumulated by transnational corporations and international finance institutions that erode the powers of both civil society and governments. These factors continue to undermine the gains women have made through decades of struggle.
A few core themes emerged from our conversations:
the challenges facing indigenous peoples as they seek to protect the earth itself, defend their collective rights to self-determination and sovereignty over lands, resources and territories, and address violence both within communities and from external forces
the continued persistence of racial injustice and inequity at global, national and local levels, and their intimate interconnection with economic globalization and militarism