The Women of the Forest seminar brings together women from different Amazonian territories to discuss female protagonism

The Mid-Juruá was represented by four women from the two conservation units who joined the elaboration of a manifest letter.

By Maria Cunha

The first Women of Forest seminar promoted by Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) took place between March 26th and March 30th, 2023, at the Foundation headquarters, in Manaus. Over 80 women from the north and northeast of the country participated in the event, including community members, researchers, entrepreneurs, representing their territories, communities, reserves, villages, associations and organized groups.

The general objective of the event was to provide opportunities and enhance the female protagonism of traditional populations in conservation units, indigenous lands and quilombola communities of the Amazon, in order to strengthen them in decision-making in their territories.

In light of this, the event brought several roundtables, with different topics that promoted a productive dialogue to the women representing their territories. Each table had speakers who related the proposed theme, so as to generate a broader debate among the women represented there, an experience exchange that provided various aspects of knowledge. Themes such as food security, female health, domestic violence, climate change, education, entrepreneurship, and female leadership were on the agenda of the discussion.

Roundtable theme: empowerment and feminine leadership. Photo: Maria Cunha

The territory of Mid-Juruá had the participation of four women representing two conservation units. From Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve were present Cilícia Lima, from Vila Ramalho Community, and Luzia Costa from Bom Jesus Community, while the Mid-Juruá Extractive Reserve was represented by Maria José From Gumo do Facão Community and Maria Cunha, from São Raimundo and local communicator from Juruá Institute. 

The experience was enriching to Cilícia Lima, “Mid-Juruá is a territory that is a reference for community organization, leadership and empowerment formation, this exchange of experience at the Women of Forest Seminar was important to get to know others territories that through their struggles are trying to transform their realities for the well being of all”, affirms Cilícia, one the representatives of Uacari RDS at the event.

The social movement has been gaining strength in the territories, and the female hand in this causes has generated hopes that by working together we can sum up much more, and have a better chance of making the territories places of leadership and sustainability, working in such a way that those who live there can feel safe enough to rewrite their history whenever they feel the need to do so. 

The National Council of Rubber Tappers  (CNS, in Portuguese) was present at the seminar as well, in order to create the “Manifesto of Women of the Forest” through the demand of each representative of their territories, addressing themes such as climate change, security, education, health, economic development, empowerment, and community infrastructure.   

The representative of Mid-Juruá, Maria Cunha, during the Women of Forest seminar.

At the end of the event, this initiative resulted in the creation of the LETTER OF THE NETWORK OF WOMEN PROTECTORS AND DEFENDERS OF WATER AND THE FORESTS OF NORTH AND NORTHEAST, aiming to bring the demands of women of the forest to authorities, so that they can bring visibility to the realities within their territories, and, in through this, find solutions to minimize the negative impact on the life of women and those who live there.

The letter was delivered to the authorities present at the event, representing the French Embassy and the Government of Amazonas States. The mission is to make this letter reach as many authorities as possible, so that the demands of these women, protectors and defenders of the waters and forest, can be recognized and heard.

Reading the Letter of the Network of Women Protectors and Defenders of Water and the Forests of North and Northeast

Personally, as the representative of Mid-Juruá at the event, I want to highlight the importance of having participated in this moment, not only as an activist for my territory, but also as a woman, a mother, and a riverside resident, the importance of recognizing myself as a capable person, and to understand that we are not alone and this fight belongs to everyone. For rights, recognition, respect, and social equality. This seminar, with all the testimonies I heard from several women from different territories, made me understand that women’s empowerment is transformative. I feel that our mission is to motivate women from the forests and other areas to recognize their own capabilities and become the main protagonist of their stories and of stories of success from their territories.

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