Extractivism, militarisation and violence against women

 

Since 2013 violence against women has emerged as a consistent theme in WoMin’s work and that of our allies. In 2015, the secretariat began to conceptualise, with its allies, how we might take up this question in a way that deeply links the dispossessions and depravations linked to dominant extractivism to violence more generally, and violence against women (VAW) more specifically. The dimensions of violence identified include: domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape in artisanal mining sites and in the settlements adjacent to extractives industries; the militarization of extractives-impacted communities and the use of sexual harassment, strip and search activities, and rape by the military and private security as weapons against artisanal miners and communities resisting dispossession and dislocation; and in more general terms the violent denial of the livelihoods, culture and well-being of communities, and women specifically, who stand in the path of rapacious extractives industries. WoMin is developing an exploratory exercise of documentation, research, dialogues, organizing and alliance-building which it will implement over the next one year with allies in four countries. This work would be a ‘hook’ to draw traditional women’s rights organisations and movements closer to economic justice struggles for land, energy, services and climate justice. The VAW focus has been missed by most of the extractives organisations, other than those with a very explicit women’s rights focus, and no regional organisations have, at this time, developed a coordinated strategy to monitor, document, publicise and respond to repression associated with struggles of resistance against extractives and mega-infrastructure projects. WoMin’s work will, therefore, address an area of great need which has been substantively neglected in the Africa region.