Battered Women Support Services (BWSS) joins the International Women’s Gathering organized by the Zapatista Indigenous women in El Caracol, Morelia, Chiapas, Mexico.
Our team members Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager of Direct Services and Clinical Practice and Daniela Escolar, Stopping the Violence Counsellor and Latina American Women’s Support Group Facilitator, are representing the BWSS team March 8th through 10th, 2018 sharing our message and the messages sent by the women who access our services.
BWSS supports girls and women who have experienced gender based violence. We are located in the unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories known as Vancouver, BC. In a country called Canada.
This upcoming International Women’s Gathering is extremely significant at this time when we continue recognizing that violence against girls and women is endemic and epidemic. As our Zapatista Sisters (Compañeras) from el Caracol have stated, “women all over the world are being murdered. And there is no cost to the murderers—the real murderer is always the system behind a man’s face—because they are covered up for, protected, and even rewarded by police, courts, the media, bad governments, and all those above who maintain their position on the backs of our suffering.”
“651 people registered, with ages that range from 5 months to 75 years. 38 compañeras come with their offspring. The places of the world they come from are Germany, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estado Español, United States, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, England, Italy, Mapuche Nation, Cree and Ojibwa Nation, Navajo Nation, Sweden, Nicaragua, Basque Country, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, and 27 states of Mexico.” – Chiapas Support Committee
In solidarity with our sisters from all over the world, particularly with Indigenous women and women of African descent, stolen from Africa, enslaved in the Americas whose descendants continue to be largely unrecognized and rendered invisible today. We stand in full recognition of the five hundred years of oppression and women’s resistance, we will spend three days at the International Women’s Gathering discussing our experiences, learning from each other, sharing our knowledge, and strengthening the ways in which we women have survived, resisted and reclaimed our place on this planet as life givers and supporters of life.
Our work at BWSS is informed by decades of solidarity with direct action to affect systemic change, and in particular our work alongside girls and women survivors of gender based violence from diverse communities, including Indigenous women, the original inhabitants of this land, known as Canada, and who have survived political violence including Indian Residential Schools. Our work is informed by Indigenous women and diverse women from all over the world who have been displaced by enslavement, war, economic oppression, political persecution, racial persecution, gender identity persecution, and gendered persecution. Our work informs our practice, and our work is founded in decolonizing, anti-oppression, and intersectional feminisms.
BWSS is not a single-issue women’s organization and as such, we understand there are many paths to affect change and to seek justice. The International Women’s Gathering will be a path which will open new paths. We, at BWSS are working towards ending male violence against girls and women and seeking justice. We know that when women achieve justice for themselves, they are also achieving justice for their families and their communities. We want to exchange ideas on social change, sustainability, solidarity, care, and network building.
How can we continue this endless struggle in a context of a colonial patriarchal capitalist system that has fostered social injustice which benefits from violence against girls and women? How can we stay strong and continue doing this work in accord with our ethics? How can others join the struggle to transform this world for a more just world? How can you, we, collectively, support the work of Indigenous women, Black women, racialized women, all women, women’s organization, LGBTQ2S communities, and change makers to affect social change?
The ongoing attack on women and their children is cruel and strategic because there are structures of power that were designed to benefit from these attacks. We have to raise our expectation of our governments, systems of power, laws and so forth if we want to stop violence against girls, women, mothers and their children, and elder women. Stopping violence against girls and women is everyone’s responsibility.