Here’s my diary of my trip to Brazil to speak at a conference on geography, gender and sexualities.
Today we took a boat along the Madeira river which is a tributary of the Amazon river. We arrived at a remote village, only accessible by boat. We were greeted with a local shop and some buildings that appeared relatively new. Then we discovered the history and current context of this place. This small village was flooded, during January last year. These floods destroyed housing, health services and businesses and the people took refuge in the Amazon. They came back to rebuild their village, but there is a further threat. The government wants to build a hydro-electric power station, permanently flooding the area. They are trying to relocate all of the villages some miles into the Amazon, destroying their community and making their fishing livelihoods impossible.
What became clear was that women took a lead role, both in rebuilding the village, regaining services and in resisting the government’s push to remove them permanently from their homes. The OWmne’s association was a powerful force in this community. Not only this, but these women were also looking for new forms of income and we were shown the crafts that they are making to be sold. It was a fantastic experience and illustrated how women are given positions of leadership and control, in ways that men would be expected to take in the UK.