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Launch of publication marks seminar for Action for Black Women and Women from Grassroots Sectors at the World Social Forum

Women from social movements and grassroots organizations in the countryside and the city in the North and Northeast came together on Thursday 15 March within the agenda of the World Social Forum, to participate in the seminar “Challenges and Perspective for the strengthening and leadership of black women and women from the grassroots sectors.”

The aim of the seminar was to reflect on the challenges and perspectives for the strengthening and leadership of black women and women from the grassroots sectors from the North and Northeast and their organizations within public debates in Brazilian society and within the social participation processes related to democracy, access to and the guarantee of rights and social justice in the current political situation.  Alongside the general audience of women from the World Social Forum were representatives from grassroots groups, organizations and movements which receive support from the “Black Women and Women from the Grassroots Sectors: Tracing Pathways, Constructing Rights Project”, run by CESE and SOS Corpo (Feminist Institute for Democracy), with funding from the European Union.

The Centre for the Study and Defence of Black People of Pará (Centro de Estudos e Defesa do Negro do Pará: CEDENPA) was represented by Maria Malcher, who located the relevance of the initiative in the Northern region: not only in the multiplication of women’s groups in other states in Amazônia but in the coalition between them through the Fulanas Network (a network supported by the project).

From Teresina (Piauí), Eliana da Silva (Ayabás) reported to the women present that the organization has already had two projects supported within the “Black Women and Women from the Grassroots Sectors”. “In the first project, we wanted to provide visibility to black women.  We ran a photography course with an exhibition of black quilombola women, from the Candomblé worship houses, from several fields, to show how beautiful and photogenic black women are, despite many people saying we are not”, remembered Eliana.  In the second supported proposal they held discussions about feminism and racism in the quilombo through the project “Making Knowledge Black”.

Reports from grassroots groups from the state of Bahia also revealed the regional strengthening of black women and women from the grassroots sectors.

From Ilha de Maré, fisherwoman and shellfish picker Eliete Paraguaçu noted that the initiative was important in taking women from the community to the struggle, in the end, “they are the ones on the frontline of the loss of rights in the territories”, she noted, taking into account the successive violations of rights in the location, due to the presence of the petrochemical industry in the region – which, amongst other issues, has caused the contamination of the waters, the devastation of the environment, the proliferation of disease and sexual violence against women.

Marta Leiro from the Calafate Women’s Collective (Salvador) noted that the racial issue was a highlight for reflection by women from the collective.  “In this mixed group, we perceived that there is a difference between white and black women from the grassroots sector.  It was very interesting.”

The strengthening of the Black Women’s Network of Bahia was noted by Lindinalva de Paula, a network representative – which today is embedded in Salvador and in the Sisal Territory. The multiplication of black women’s grassroots groups is being established, according to Lindinalva, last year in Julho das Pretas alone, three organizations were launched: the Dandaras do Sisal, Abayomis and Cleuza Maria de Oliveira.

The event ended with the launch of the publication: “Black Women and Women from the Grassroots Sectors from the North and Northeast – Experiences that Intertwine”, which systematizes the experiences and learning from the Black Women and Women from the Grassroots Sectors: Tracing Pathways, Constructing Rights Project, which ran between 2015 and 2017 in the Northern and Northeastern states of Brazil.

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