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Home About Us Equipo Sur Stories of Honduras International Women's Day in Honduras
International Women's Day in Honduras PDF Print E-mail

On March 8, International Women’s Day, women from across Honduras came to Tegucigalpa to march and demand their rights -- of all types. The economic, social, and political violence in the country affects women in many ways and women from numerous organizations came together to demand respect for women in all walks of life.

Hundreds of campesina (peasant farmer) women from numerous campesino organizations united in Via Campesina were at the forefront of the women’s day march to demand the right to land for themselves and their communities. The concentration of land in the hands of a few and the government’s failure to give legal titles to campesino cooperatives and communities has resulted in a land crisis in Honduras, giving rise to poverty for the many campesino families who have no where to live or plant crops. Some of the women were part of MOCSAM, the Campesino Movement of San Miguel, who just a few weeks ago had been evicted from land they have a claim to by 40 armed security guards from the Honduran Sugar Company. As one woman explained, “We don’t have anywhere to live… This land is ours. It belonged to our ancestors.”

Another group of women joining the march were from communities affected by multi-national mining companies, including the San Martin mine, owned by Canadian mining company Goldcorp, which operated in Honduras’ Siria Valley from 2000 until 2008. Women have been among those most affected by the mine as they are frequently in contact with the water contaminated by the mine – their community’s water that they use to wash clothes, dishes, and perform other basic household tasks. They have high levels – sometimes more that 700 times the acceptable levels of heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury in their blood. Children and adults also have high levels of lead in their blood.  

The Honduran health ministry tested the blood of community members in 2007 but didn’t give them the results until 4 years later. The women of the Siria Valley are demanding that the government provide themselves and their families with medical care for their serious health problems as result of the open-pit mine that was imposed on their community. Not only has the Honduran government failed to take responsibility for this health crisis but this January it passed a new mining law allowing similar open-pit mining projects -- including mining with the use of cyanide -- to move forward across the country which is anticipated to result in hundreds more situations like that of the Siria Valley. The 2009 SOA-graduate led coup paved the way for this new mining law by ousting President Mel Zelaya, who had suspended new mining projects.

The march went to both the Presidential Palace and the National Congress to condemn the “negligent action of the state….which has led to 97% impunity in femicide cases in Honduras.” The Campaign against Femicides notes that although there were 606 violent deaths of women in 2012, “the Honduran government has been repeatedly inefficient in the application of laws that safeguard the human rights of women” and demands that the government be held accountable for investigating and prosecuting femicides.

 

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