Encuentro of Zapatista Women and the Women of the World

Zapatista women smiling with corn

The Women’s Encuentro (gathering, officially known as “The Encuentro of Zapatista Women and the Women of the World”, was held from December 28th, 2007 to January 1st, 2008, coinciding with the 14th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, in the indigenous community of La Garrucha, Chiapas. Three thousand local, national and international participants attended, mostly women, in a ground-breaking event organized and overseen by indigenous Zapatista women.

As the women discussed political, social and cultural issues, the men were invited to participate by listening to the discussions, as well as by cooking, cleaning, and child-minding. “The days were filled with talk of the concrete measures Zapatista women and girls have taken to organize for self-determination, liberty, democracy and justice in their own communities,” reported a group of US participants in this excellent article.

Zapatista women shared stories of their lives before the uprising, of their oppression as women, as indigenous and as the poorest of the poor. They spoke of violence at home, discrimination in their own communities, and lack of access to healthcare and education. They analyzed the positive changes brought to their lives by participating in the Zapatista movement in terms of increasing their level of freedom in regards to marriage and children, organizing in work collectives and fighting for their rights within the organization.

Schools For Chiapas was present, lending a hand by organizing and overseeing the Rebellious Youth Center, a childcare center that provided meals, arts and sports for children and youths while their mothers took part in the encuentro.