CESE supports communications initiative for female empowerment

Feminist Uprising ACRE brings together women from the Legal Amazon to confront femicide through communications initiatives

Communications can (and should) be a fundamental strategic ally in denormalizing violence against women and inspiring a more critical view of the patriarchy’s customary practices.  With a mission to confront expressions of violence against women, the Feminist Uprising Against Femicide (Levante Feminista contra o Feminicídio) – ACRE was born, led by the Women’s Institute of the Amazon (Instituto Mulheres da Amazônia: IMA), as a legacy of the Coordinated Movement of Women from the Amazon (Movimento Articulado das Mulheres da Amazônia: MAMA). Through CESE’s Small Projects Programme, the initiative promotes training for women in communications instruments and social media, runs live streaming events and produces content directly addressing the theme of the rights of women in all their diversity.  The funding also supports training for a team of communications professionals, developing visibility activities and strategies on the theme of femicide.

Acre has high indices of femicide, resulting from the normalization of domestic violence, aggravated by the pandemic.  The structural problem of a patriarchal and extremely unequal society is seen in government policies that encourage the purchase of arms and a return to a conservative discourse, enabling the dismantling of bodies and policies that defend human rights.  The Feminist Uprising Against Femicide aims to pressurize the Supreme Federal Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal: STF) and other institutions in the Judicial and Executive branches to obtain and publish updated data about the risks to women in Brazil, and to propose public policies.

The project seeks to involve women from the Brazilian Legal Amazon to participate in the Amazonidas Feminist Uprising Against Femicide and, from there, to strengthen the Feminist Uprising in other states within the Brazilian Legal Amazon. Communications training was run for approximately 45 women, sharing communications knowledge, the use of social media and mobilization.  According to Maria da Conceição Maia de Oliveira, Director and President of the IMA, “communication is a tool in our work to deconstruct the mistaken mentality of male supremacy over women – which is at the root of all the violence in the patriarchy.  The denormalization of violence comes about through an educational process, in which communication is a fundamental instrument so that we can communicate not only with women in violent situations, but also with the perpetrators of violence, raising their awareness.  And communicating with society, so that there is a real perception of the damage caused by this illness.”

Training included reflections about violence against women and, above all, brought the participants into contact with communications and information tools. “Aimed at women from the Amazon, the idea is to demonstrate how women can appropriate these tools to become better qualified for advocacy with society, with the bodies that should be the competent authorities for confronting violence against women.  We thought of this because of the dismantling of policies to confront violence against women, which were constructed and prioritized by previous governments,” the manager explained.  She also explained that the ongoing weakening of the system to protect female victims of violence, allied to the pandemic, has aggravated the situation for thousands of women.  In this sense, communication is fundamental for mobilizing and providing visibility to the struggle: “We want to be constructing communications that we can own and to empower ourselves.  And that is also women’s empowerment” Conceição added.

Women from the Amazon – Women from the Amazon do not form a single block, but are rather extremely diverse: rural women, female riverside dwellers, women rubber tappers, indigenous women, urban women, female quilombolas, we have black women, Afro-indigenous women, women from the forest, rural women, women from the city, fisherwomen, female farmers, women teachers, women health workers, midwives, female coconut breakers and so many others.  They all have in common the demand for urgent and integrated collaboration in the grassroots social movement.

“There is an erroneous view that people in the Centre and South of the country, and other regions, have of the Amazon: as if it were all the same.  This is the same mistake that indigenous populations experience, seen as if there were an equal approach. Every ethnicity has its culture, its language, in short, its own linguistic tree,” noted Maria da Conceição.

Although the audience is so diverse, the training team recognized the urgent need for training in using social media and digital communication: bringing the audience closer to their own remote meeting tools, exploring the differences within the group itself, which has multiple levels of familiarity with this type of tool.  “This was a pilot and there is a need for continuity.  They themselves say that they need more practice, because communication is the soul and essence of our work.  To deconstruct mistaken views, to construct a new vision, a new mentality, a new paradigm, or to equip us in the face of this perverse, cruel, capitalist, chauvinist, misogynist and racist reality. We need to get trained and communication is essential,” said Conceição, who is already thinking of new pathways to provide continuity to the work.

Held at fortnightly intervals, the series of themed streaming events, called Fala Mana (Speak Sister), allowed participants to listen to and find out about the different experiences of women from the region, expanding the range of their voices, sharing their dreams and challenges, and also their leadership. “Partnerships such as the one we had with CESE support our training for advocacy.”

“We would like to thank you for this support because, like us, CESE believes that another world is possible.  CESE conjugates the verb to hope with us – to hope, not from waiting, but to hope from believing that our struggle will be fruitful in building a human, fraternal society, with sisterhood, respect and harmony,” she asserted.

Feminist Uprising Acre – the Feminist Uprising Acre is made up of the Association of Black Women (Associação de Mulheres Negras: AMN), the Association of Indigenous Women from Acre, the Amazon and the Northwest of Rondônia (Associação de Mulheres Indígenas do Acre, do Amazonas e Noroeste de Rondônia: SITOAKÜRI), the Union of Domestic Workers, the Peasant Women’s Movement (Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas: MMC) (in Portuguese), the Unified Black Movement (Movimento Negro Unificado: MMU) in Acre (in Portuguese) and the Union of Rural Workers from Rio Branco, Acre.  The coalition was set up at both local and regional level in March 2021, and has a manifesto to confront the serious advance of femicide in Brazil.  In its practices, the Uprising addresses conceptual and practical themes related to feminism, racism, misogyny, transphobia and others.

Through the IMA, the Feminist Uprising Acre has been constantly monitoring its networks, and the forms of communication/mobilization they use, to successfully reach indigenous, peasant, LGBTQIA+, Afro-Amazon, quilombola and urban women, as well as women from city peripheries.  Social media has been used strategically to publicize activities but also to weave together mobilizations.  The collective can be found on networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and has its own website and YouTube channel.

The launch of the Feminist Uprising of Women from the Amazon is planned for 9 November and will include representations from the nine states of the Brazilian Legal Amazon.  “This activity is only possible because we had support from CESE, which allowed us to have this communications team, generating mobilizations between women from these different territories,” she concluded.