Gender and/in natural resource conflicts

Preparing for the guest lecture in Esha Shah’s course “Gender and Natural Resource Management”. I love giving this lecture: 1,5 hours unlimited talking about Guatemala and the topics that I find important. In the lecture I draw on my interviews with female territory defenders so demonstrate that, and how, not only conflicts over natural resources are deeply gendered, but also the violence and criminalization that territory defenders face because they are part of the defense of territory.

Elena from Huehuetenango for example says: The consequences? The consequences of being a defender and being criminalized are enormous. We have no money since my husband was killed. There is no man in the house to take responsibility and now it has gotten out of hand because two of my daughters are not talking to me anymore (starts to cry softly), because they don’t believe he’s dead. That’s because they didn’t see him, and neither did I, I only saw the pictures. Now the media are saying that maybe he isn’t really dead but enjoying a vacation in Mexico, and they are starting to believe that as well (silence)

(continues) When I had my court warrant, it was also hard. It was so hard … I couldn’t leave town, not even to visit my mother when she was so sick … she was so sick that she was hospitalized and they thought she would die and I couldn’t go and see her, because if I did, they would capture me and I would end up in prison and who would take care of my little one? After all what we’ve been through?

Preparing the slides gives me these mixed feelings of sadness, admiration and strength. It’s impossible to even start imagining what these women go through and where they find the power and the strength to continue their struggles.