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Mona, envisioning women at the forefront of non-violent action

‘We connect with different women in different areas of the country, therefore, we see not only how vulnerable they are, but also the role they take in their communities.’

Women in indigenous communities

Through her work, Mona is involved with many communities: ‘Vulnerability to wildfires and other environmental threats affect particularly indigenous communities in Latin America, and I think that indigenous women are impacted heavily. While some are also facing a lot of patriarchal values as it is the rural areas where there is little education, they suffer the effects of climate change and extractivism. They are the ones who hold the family together, and their kids get sick, and they get sick themselves.

The presence of illegal mining and armed groups has put additional pressure on these indigenous communities. They are severely affected and have to deal with everything at the same time.’

‘Environmental rights or women’s rights are interconnected with every human right; they are the same thing, and this division does not exist. I think isolating groups of rights is just making it harder for us to see them.’

Women at the heart of humanitarian work

‘We call it humanitarian work because we really want to emphasise a part of the human inside. It is not charity. I am not saying that women lead charities and that they are limited to this motherly aspect. It is that they are willing to take charge of the situation and able to undertake so many different things. If they are organising something like a soup kitchen for the neighbourhood, it is not about the soup kitchen, but about the connection with the neighbours and knowing what is going on with them.’

‘So if you want to know who is being arrested, who does not have any food, who is sick in the neighbourhood, you will go to the mothers, you will go to those, as they are naturally the leaders of the community.’

Women, strength, and resilience

‘After times of crisis, it is women who know the work has to continue.’

Within her work, Mona observes the exceptional resilience of women after a crisis. ‘Women are connecting us specifically in the grassroots or citizen-led movements; alliances, communication and unity within ourselves is basically our biggest resource. And this is why we say women are our biggest resource; because they are the ones who own this information in their heads on how to act and how to handle emergencies. They will know that feeding people is an emergency while having discussions in the afternoons is also important. And following up with the lawyers and then giving interviews. I think it is just absolutely amazing the way they do it.’

Women in a vision of tomorrow

Mona recalls attending dangerous protests, where her mom joined her despite the risk. ‘I found it to be special and I see the maturity of such reasoning of since I am not able to stop it, I am going to be present. And I believe that happens so frequently; there were so many mothers there. There were so many mothers. And so I think it is inspiring when they are in the midst of the chaos, yet they have to be present.’

‘I spoke to a woman and she told me I am already afraid, I would rather be afraid with the people on the street, than afraid at home alone.’

Mona sees another vision through womanhood, one that can inspire a different tomorrow. This feminine vision is one of understanding, collective power, and community. ‘I think right now this is more necessary.’

We thank Mona for sharing her vision with us, for her resilience and solidarity in her fight for social change. Would you like to learn about more women rights defenders? Find more stories below.

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Mona is an environmental and human rights activist in Latin America, working on democracy and civil rights campaigns, as well as environmental justice. She is part of a non-violence movement, where they train themselves and others in the practice of non-violence in achieving social change. Mona shares her vision of non-violence and the feminine as a vision for tomorrow.