It was minus 20 degrees Celsius when 2.000 women gathered at the main square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to voice their distress about the terrible smog in the city caused by three large power plants. Soon after, the women were invited to speak about the problem of air pollution with the minister of environment.
Today is International Women's Day. A day originating from women's strikes against poor working conditions in the textile industry, some 100 years ago. Since then, a lot has improved for women but, unfortunately, men and women obviously still don’t have equal rights. In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir already warned that ‘women’s rights will never be vested. You have to stay vigilant your whole life’. Recent developments such as the tightening of abortion laws in some countries confirm this view and show that even in the ‘free West’ women’s rights are still far from self-evident.
In the Nam Ou river in Northern Laos, seven dams are built by a Chinese company. All over the world one can see the same picture when it comes to hydropower projects: it has devastating impacts on the people living in or around the area where they are being built, primarily because they are being displaced. It seems that displacement of communities is still accepted as the unavoidable collateral damage of infrastructure projects. This reveals a highly unacceptable attitude towards poor communities in whose name development is proceeding. In Laos, our Laotian partner visited communities along the river to talk with people about their life after displacement:
Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people live in areas where the soil is depleted; often they are forced to, or the region they have been living in for generations has become increasingly arid over time. The desert is advancing and this is a global problem. Opinions about the causes of land degradation and desertification, but especially about the solutions, are very divided. To discuss this, the biennial global conference on desertification will take place from 2 to 14 September. This is where policymakers, scientists, NGOs, female and male farmers and pastoralist, herders and companies from all over the world come together. Our colleague Nathalie van Haren is present at the conference and explains why.
GAGGA rallies the collective power of the women's rights and environmental justice movements to realize a world where women can and do access their rights to water, food security, and a clean, healthy and safe environment.