On the struggle of the Zapatista women


DISCUSSION PAPER PRESENTED
BY THE EZLN ON THE STRUGGLE OF THE ZAPATISTA WOMEN

Friends: women and men.

I am going to tell you a little about the women who provide support for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
First I would like to say that the women of the rebel village of Guadalupe Tepeyac are by nature very strong.
We do not give in and we struggle with great dignity.
As Zapatista women we believe that there should not be only men in control, because we women have our way of thinking and our ideas too.

We,the women of the Zapatista villages, see our children with nothing to eat, without a proper house or proper clothing.

We also see that the family does not have land to grow crops on.
But apart from this, we indigenous women have no education. Very few of us can read and write and we also have problems with our health. Many of us die when giving birth or from malnutrition. That is why we struggle and that is why we support the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. When the insurgents came down to our villages from the mountains they started to explain to us that we women had rights and we had to fight to make sure they were respected. Women's rights have to be respected first of all by the community since that is where everything starts. We realised then that the men who drank beat their wives. That is why we agree completely that there should be no alcohol in the communities. The insurgents taught us about the struggle and later the different communities discussed laws for women in the Zapatista villages.
In these laws the women of the villages said that they deserved respect, that women have a right to work, to receive money, to decide how many children we want to have, to marry the person we want to.
Because it was not like this before.
There are still many villages where women are forced to marry against their will.
That is why in the Zapatista villages there is the law which says that nobody can be forced into marriage.
The women¥s laws also say that women can join the EZLN if they want to and that they can hold positions of leadership just like any man - in other words they can be part of the military command.
This is what we can tell you about our struggle.

We see the struggle of women as a long one, which varies from place to place.

We, the women of the Zapatistas see women struggling in other countries, but sometimes we see them struggling for things which we do not understand.

I want to tell you that the Zapatista women respect all of your different ways of thinking.

We want to learn about your struggles and talk about how we struggle and how we organise.

We want you to listen to us but above all we want to listen to you.

Perhaps some people think that our struggle is very minor and that we should fight harder. We say to them that our struggle, like that of many women, is only just beginning.

That is all, companions in struggle.

. Companera Dalia and Companera Felipe, EZLN support bases.


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