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CESE and MALUNGU promote roundtable conversations on gender and race to support more quilombola women in these areas

A methodology that inspires self-care and reflections about the importance and value of women. These were some of the aims of the “Roundtable Conversations – Here Between Us Quilombola Women”.  In all, five meetings were promoted by MALUNGU – the State Coordination for the Associations of Quilombo Remnant Communities of Pará (Coordenação Estadual das Associações das Comunidades Remanescentes de Quilombo do Pará) in partnership with the Ecumenical Coordination of Service (Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço: CESE).

These roundtables are a continuation of three meetings that took place in 2020, aimed at providing institutional strengthening for MALUNGU.  The initiative is supported by the Ford Foundation. In addition to confronting gender inequality, the meetings also address issues such as strengthening the anti-racist struggle, the defence of territories and traditional communities, and taking a look at ancestry.

The meetings were held for women from within MALUNGU: rather than focusing on leaders, the activity benefited women from the organization’s five regional offices who have never participated in, or have little experience of participating in, moments such as this.  The roundtables were run for the Guajarina and Tocantins (14/05), Lower Amazon (20/05), Marajó (21/05) and Northeast Pará (25/05) regional offices.

Rosana Fernandes, member of CESE’s Projects and Training Advisory Department, highlights the progress made in meetings held prior to these, to consider more activities for the second half of 2021 and take the proposal forward.  “One of our main objectives is to help these women organize themselves into collectives and groups, at a later date.  To encourage self-organization,” she said.

Photo: MALUNGU / 7th Black Quilombola Women’s Meeting, 2014

Rosa Marques, Executive Advisor to the Network of Black Women of Pernambuco, facilitated the five roundtables.  Rosa has a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences from the University of the Sinos River Valley (Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos: UNISINOS) with a concentration in Social Policy and Practice.  Valéria Carneiro, MALUNGU’s Executive Coordinator for Gender Equality, also attended the meetings.

For Valéria, the roundtable conversations are hugely important for these quilombola women to achieve recognition and know that there are other women in the struggle against racism, sexism and a society that labels us.  “It is important to know that there, on the other side of the screen, in many quilombos, there is a woman who has the opportunity to talk about her problem.  The mere fact of participating is important, given the amount of information provided.”

One quilombola woman* who participated in the roundtable conversation for the Marajó regional office, said that the experience was very important, for both letting off steam and listening to the words of the other women.  “It was fantastic.  I was able to let off steam, to show myself without fear of judgement.  I hope many more women are able to meet through these roundtables and that they happen more often.  Despite being online, I felt accepted by the women who were listening to me, paying attention to what I was saying”.

Rosana Fernandes noted that listening to these women talk about self-care, their daily lives and the challenges of the racism, prejudice, inequality and oppression quilombola women experience, demonstrated how essential it is to guarantee and encourage these women’s self-organization and participation in specific arenas, to strengthen the struggle for the rights of the communities and of quilombola women themselves.

“These are the women who are in the quilombola communities and who are making things happen, ensuring the struggle moves forward! It has always been like this and it’s important for this to be recognized, for their rights be respected!” she declared.

 

* For security reasons, this name has been removed.