Palabras, Barullos, Sueños, Cuentos e Historias de Vida, Viajes y Otras Verdades

May 29, 2011

Wayuu Enarbolada

Se desprenden

Las corazas oxidadas
Dolores sin sentido

Diluídos en lágrimas de olvido

Renacen latidos de corazón


En mente ávida de noción

En hilos plateados de protección
En carnes con mejor sazón
Aquí esta la Mujer de Barro
Llena de ti Wounmain
Aquí está la Wayuu 

May 10, 2011

Eight day: What is Feminist? And some movies and books recommended

Dr. Angela Miles
University of Toronto Professor
Captivating the time with Dr. Angela Miles, and the way she handle the discussion about "What feminism is". 

We had a short time discuss among two of us.  Natalie told me what feminism means for her, what I summarize in the next sentence:  “Is the right of women to be equal to men”.   She also refers the situation in African countries where the religion context is dominating women, putting them in second positions.  To stop discrimination from sex, she also said “women most of the time are discriminated just because you are a woman, because of your sex and feminist movement wants to stop this”.

After the short exchange, Angela Miles started explaining that “feminist movement is very divers as women priorities are different”, and also started to ask some questions:

·      Do you consider yourself as a feminist?

The answers were in the middle, as the feminist movement: “very diverse”. Some of the women as Katja, from Finland, clearly said: “I consider myself as a radical feminist”, and is very much convinced about the need of changing the structure based on the subjugation of women.  Some others as Rahel, originally from Ethiopia, said: “I am not sure about feminism yet”.  Anya, from Mexico, said:  “I prefer to be named as a human rights defender”, Gulnaz, from Kirskistan, said a cleaver word:  “There is a “misunderstanding” referring to feminism”.

Yes. Absolutely right, people around the world and sadly many oppress and controlled women, don’t even know what is feminism about.  Most of the people link the feminism with lesbian, or women wanting to be like men, or women screaming everywhere, demanding actions against men.  The imaginary of feminism in the largest of the population, unfortunately, is totally distorted and even perverted by the religion, the politic, the economy, and the culture.

Some questions started to emerge after these short reflexions. 

What the feminist is?
What the other people think it is?
Are my struggles based in social changing?

Definitely is not sufficient for women recognize themselves as feminist.  An interesting point Dr. Angela Miles gives is that a feminist woman needs to give her point of view and then, people can just define what kind of feminist you are, but feminism women must to know how to support their convictions. 

Reinforcing challenges is also a very interesting topic regarding feminism, as the patriarchal world is based in divisions of women for their control and oppression, which make you to develop things about the political thinking as a different priority in terms of what we need. 

From another point of view, is very contradictory how we see some feminist women.  Feminist does not means that women have to feel superior, and I have to say here, that I know some many feminist that are even feeling more that this, some of them suppose they are untouchables, more intelligent that other not only men, but women, more capable of interaction, all this, just because they are feminist, which makes me think about the balance among the issues the feminist is demanding for respect and the speech language of their principles, when those kind of some feminist women don’t have respect for small details; and Salma was saying after this reflections that we still divided, and I am totally agree, we are absolutely divided, replicating the guilty against women when at the same time we are trying to rebuild our identities, in a very conflictive environment in terms of domination and power.  Power, must not be based in how can we fight among ourselves as women, but how can we strength our capacity of understanding among us.

Anyway there is very difficult for me to understand a woman who doesn’t have any respect for the sacred territory of other woman, and at the same time is giving more credibility to a man that made terrible damage to another woman, besides putting all the responsibility and guilty in a woman who have been attacked and discredited when there are evidence of an ongoing harm.  Double struggle: among the power of historical patriarchal structures of domination, and among ourselves.  This is a big challenge and I think also a big dispute we need to analyze deeply in order to achieve unity. 

Misrepresentation of feminism

Is a reality that many women do not even know the existence of   domination and power based in patriarchal construction, much less, most women do not know what is equality, or dignity, or human rights, but at the same time there’s a misinterpretation for some other women when some others talk about those matters.  At the end we need to be clear that feminism is not a western imposition when it is  demanding for respect of women’s dignity and life itself.

Abha, from Nepal, also gave us a good example regarding the issue of feminism, which is not given as important as other issues raised by feminists.  One of the main issues of the feminism is equality; nevertheless on the name of equality we are transforming ourselves (feminity) into masculinity.   She was talking about an example that happened in her country. Women activists felt proud when they succeeded to include women in army.  But we are teaching them about violence  but not about peace.

The movie:

How painful is just to remember, that women and all their knowledge and wisdom was just exterminated in the name of control.  I highly recommend this movie, which I want to talk more, but is not sufficient time for it.  Whether you have the chance for watching it, will be just great to share some opinions.   You can just click on the link above and you will be able to watch the film online.

The Books

“Home Girls:  A Black Feminist Anthology” by Barbara Smith.  You can reed this in Google books just clicking the previous link.

Toronto, Canadá
Monday 9th  of May de 2011

May 9, 2011

Four and Fifth day: Study Sessions and unforeseen travel

I cannot believe where I am right now.  Crazy time, yes, and to much things to do.

I want to start from yesterday, the fourth day, as I did not have time for writing down what was happening in the WHRI. 

We began the day with yoga, which I don’t want to talk too much about.  Is just beautiful, powerful and peaceful.

Oh! What difficult is to write a journal some days after the things happened.   Yes, I just did not write the last two days, and right now, I am trying to remember things. 

Anyway.  After the yoga classes we started the study sessions with Alda Facio.  I am just counting the pages that contain my summary about the talks. 

First, we began to talk about “The Vienna Tribunal”, the movie we watched the day before.  The film was really touching, I think for all women in the room.  This is about The UN Conference on Human Rights that happened in 1993.  Women’s movement, organized in context of this conference The Tribunal on Violations of Women’s Rights, where during 8 hours, women from all around the world, were sharing the most dramatic and horrendous testimonies of human rights violations against women as, sexual violence, persecution and assassinates of women among other terrible topics.  I don’t want to talk about any specific testimony because all of them were really moving, humiliating, and some times even full of a painful embarrassing.  I was also very moved because some of the women that were giving testimonies are women that I already know and whose histories I did not know.  It makes me admire them more for all things they have been overcome to keep on fighting, and changing not only their, but our histories.

Then, we started talking about CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  An important thing to have in mind is when CEDAW was adopted, it was not consider within the human rights structure of the United Nations, only until 1993 women’s rights were consider as human rights. 

During all day we discussed about the notion, principles, obligations and contradictions of human rights. 

In USAmerica, for expample, they talk about “civil Rights” and religions talk about “natural rights”, Naming the HHRR depends almost in all cases of the social or economical ways of interpretations, and contexts where HHRR will be implemented. 

Human Rights, can not be separated which means they are interdependent, and al HHRR are the product of human rights struggles in modern times, including much more than other legal concept.  That is why every issue must have a HHRR approach. 

Much more thing to say, but I need to run, I have to go to Boston.  I will continue my diary next Monday, on my return from USAmerica.

May 4, 2011

The Open Journal: "Tight time"

Third day
My new room

It is 23:00 and I am tired and a little bit dizzy.  All around the New College Residence are posters saying “Prevent seasons’ diseases”, and I think I am just felling flu syntomps.  First night, there was not heating in Tartu Residence and I was almost dying because of the cold, I even had to wear four of my dresses to get, just a very little, warm.  Anyway, I will survive the extremely Canadian cold weather here.  The good very good thing is my new room.

Despite the discomfort of illness announced, I am motivated to continue with this journal exercise.  Specially because I am trying to do it in my “best” English.

Regarding today, we started with an extraordinary yoga session during the morning.  We were breathing and exhaling, with all the participants of the WHRI, for about one hour.  Angela Lyte, Angelita as Alda calls her, who is the executive director of the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute, was our yoga instructor and she did it just fantastic.  For me this time just “to honor myself”, was very, very strong and it makes me thought about all the time we never ever have for just be confidence with our body’s and minds, and life itself.  As indigenous woman who is fighting for rights, I always think I have not time for this, but I also think:  how I am going to practice yoga if it does not match with my customs and traditions?.  It makes me also think about the indigenous women, those that are living there, in the community, those indigenous women who don’t have this chance, those indigenous women who never will have the possibility for just be sitting, not even doing yoga, but those indigenous women who will probably not have the option just to think about themselves.   Probably some of the most traditional indigenous women will say that we indigenous women do take care of ourselves in other ways, and some indigenous men will say that we don’t need those practices that are coming from alijuna (non wayuu) women.  And probably some are right and I am wrong, and also can be the opposite so I could be right but what I have seen is that, indigenous women who are more engage in struggles for defending rights, are also more vulnerable in the most intimate spheres, precisely, because we are always in the middle of something, and those some things, can be the continuous activities which leads us to being traveling around some times, and also leads us to be in the middle of two words and two worlds and also two ways of thinking or lifestyles or lifehoods.   When I opened my eyes, I could not stop crying, because this reality, the reality of indigenous women who are in the middle of something, protecting the wear, that we tacitly apply, in the name of the conservation and survival.  Nobody wants to talk about what happened inside, but there are things we have to speak out.

Discussions with Alda, were also about matters where you have to breath and exhale, only to understand that we women, no matter whether you are from here or you are from there, there is a history of courage women, those that had a dreams of changing the future for next generations.

Why tight time?  Well, I have to finish an article about wind energy in Colombia, and I also have to finish some reports, so I leave this here just for today.    

May 4
Toronto Canada

The Open Journal: "Timid discussions started"

Second day: 

Today was a long day for me.  The jet lag is affecting me especially during morning time.  Anyway I had to wake up early in the morning to move my things into another student’s residences, with I have to say, is thousands times better than the first one, so I am more comfortable now staying in a better, light and clean space. 

Arriving the Institute, all local people were complaining because of the results of the Canadian elections.  The conservative parties unfortunately achieved an absolutely majority.

Before starting with the agenda, we were also talking about how can people just celebrate somebody’s assassination, regarding all things that have been happen since last 1st of may when Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. 

At the WHRI – Women’s Human Rights Education Institute we started today with a test that it was pretending not to be one but at the end it definitely was.  Angela says that is just for measure all the information we know.  We will get the answers back at the end of the program for comparing our improvement in the important discussions that will take place for the next six weeks.   

During morning we were more talking, and even creating all our rules, more than really being focus on other matters.  However, all contributions were really important and will positively help to maintain some order in terms of tolerance about differing ways of thinking and interventions of the participants.

In the second part of the day, Alda Facio made a presentation about “The Role of NGOs in the protection of Human Rights” which are also named as Civil Society Organization.  Discussions about this matter were more focus about the history of NGOs within the UN especially focus in women’s struggles, but also some problems concerning their agendas and the way of management of financial resources.  Some of the conclusions are that we probably need to know NGO’s mandates in the way to make better alliances that are absolutely necessary.  Probably is better written in my “secret journal” and also I think it will be just very useful for indigenous women to make some exercises on the way of working with big NGOs in terms of mutual respect and full involvement of our issues and struggles.

We ended the day with a small reception full of delicious food.

Finally I moved into another place which is absolutely full of light, and good vibrations.  Definitely I will not recommend Tartu College Residence to stay in this sordid place, for someone who is planning to come to Toronto. (I hope this means what I want to say).

As a final point, I have to say that I only had the time to talk with just another woman, for knowing a bit more about her story, and here it is:

Celine Osukwu 

She is from Nigeria.

Celine Osukwu
She got the information for doing this program at the Women’s Human Rights  Education Institute – WHRI from the network “Women United Nations Reform” where she is working right now.  She is also working at “Human Rights Committee for Defense of Human Rights”.

We had a little talked about the current political situation in Nigeria, where just last 26th of April, the general elections, which started on 9th of April, ended.  All politicians representatives, including  the president,  were elected during this period. She consider the new president “Dr. Good Luck Johnathan”, from the PDP-Peoples Democratic Parties, which is the largest parties, as a man who has the capacity for changing things.  People voted him not because of his party but his personality and charisma.  “People have hopes because of his level of education and background”, she said.   “Women and vulnerable groups have hopes in this new government”.

Regarding her expectations about the opportunity to be attending the Session at the WHRI at the Toronto University, she expect to be empowerd to go back and train women of her organization, and other networks on human rights and women’s rights. 

Celine Osukwu is a small woman, with a big heart and mind.

3 of May 2011
Toronto Canadá

May 3, 2011

The Open Journal. First Day: WHRI: One of the biggest birthday's gifts in my life

Alda Facio

One day after my birthday, I still receive fantastic gifts.  Today, I just meet a very beautiful group of extraordinary and potent women that have been working in women’s rights and feminism.

So therefore, I want to share a little bit about my experience today. 

First thing I have to say is I meet again Alda Facio, who is a very important woman that have been expending, as she said,  “about 40 years”, working in women’s rights issues.  She is a lawyer from Costa Rica, and is one of our mentors, here at the Women’s Human Right Education Institute at the Toronto University in Canada.   Alda was the one who told us to write a “journal” during all the course.  That is also why I wanted to start with her. 

Sometimes, especially when you are working in human right issues, you know some untouchable people.  You can not even approximate some women that are smaller and thiner that their big egos, but Alda Facio, even being a very important activist that has contributed historically to women’s rights, is a very warm person who you can approximate not only to talk about all her experience but her particular likes. 

Definitely I was very surprise after all our presentation among the group, when Alda, with a very short summary, just analyzed what we were talking about.

Some of her conclusions were, for example,  the price you have to pay when you are a human right’s defender, compared with the increase danger when you also talk from the feminist perspective;  She also talked about how big can affect women’s rights in armed conflict contexts, without meaning that exclusion, discrimination, and violence against women are not the common issue everywhere; and how important is to take care about us as activist, and she talked also about selfcare “word she does not like in English”, but is “autocuidado” in Spanish. 

At the end of all her intervention, She, Alda, and also Angela said that we have to write a journal, and that is why I am doing this right now.

I think is a big challenge also for me to write this in English, but I am very exited about sharing this experience not only with the marvelous group we are attending the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute, but for some of you, that can probably get some motivation for participating next years, and especially,  for keep fighting. 

So after this, I must write, day by day, about our feelings and experiences regarding the program, then, I decided to have a “secret journal” and also an “open journal”.  The “secret” one, off course will be only mine, but here in my blog, I want but also hope, to share during the next 45 days, some of my learning, thoughts and positions, regarding the issues we will study and discuss.

Unfortunately “my English is not very good looking”  but also I will try to improve myself in this language by practicing this interesting exercise.
Personal Lifes

We did an exchange among more than 20 participants, just to learn more about each of us.  So here are the first three short’s talks I shared with three exceptional women.

Natalie Marini Nyamungu

From Congo DRC

Natali Marini Nyamungu
Congo was divides in two countries during the colonialism.  They had face an internal war.  1997 was the official date of stopping war  and the country was divided in three groups:  one, the capital city; one in the North and one in the East.  Each one had their own administration and interests and people must to move within the inside country with a special passport. 

The situation of women there after during and even after the war still being the first topic in terms of human right’s violations.  Women are the most affected population.

Before to come to the WHRI she was booking her accommodation without getting the visa knowing the risk of losing the money she paid for the application of it.  Finally she got it on time and is extremely happy been here. 

Natalie works at the United Nations keep Peace Mission for Stabilization of Congo.

Abha Shrestha

Abha Shrestha
Was born in Katmandu, Nepal, but actually she came to Canada in 2004 for studying Gerontology at the Humber College.  Her worries are all focus in the way of analyzing aging from the perspective of gender, topic she wants to implement once she will be back to Nepal, where the situation of senior people, especially regarding women is absolutely inconceivable.

Chocolate cake, plastic rings and Canadian elections

The birthday's cake.  Notice the
colorful flowers... Those are the rings
At the main time when all women in the room where talking about the elections that happened yesterday in Canada, a big chocolate cake with only sixteen candles, was bring for “Angelita” (who I will probably to talk about in coming days), for singing the happy birthday and celebrate my more than three thousand rains.

Why more than three thousand rains?  Well, for Wayuu people we don’t count time with watches, well, not exactelly now, because I think almost any Wayuu have in modern times watches for messuring the time with clockwise and numbers, but in wayuunaiki, which is the traditional language of Wayuu people, we don’t have the word for messuring the time with this magic machines. In wayuunaiki, we don’t ask, for example, “how old are you”, but, “jerra Juya pia” that means “how many rains you have lived”. 

And, I still wearing my pink plastic ring that was part of the decoration of the cake.

About the Canadian elections, well, all people is waiting for the results, full of hoping that conservative parties will not get the majority of the votes.  But I will definitely learn more about the canadian ways of politic, just for understanding better.

My firs TCard

After having lunch with Mexican burritos or “little dunkies” as Alda Facio said, we went for a short tour around the campus of the Toronto University. 

My TCar.
What a hapiness
First stop the was at the Women’s Educational Resources Collection (WERC), an amazing places with bookshelves full of  women’s information from all around the world, I just think I have to sent my book to this place.

Then we were trying to recognize the place around where we are.  We  walked around amazing combination of antique, classic and modern architecture. 

We went finally to the Robarts Library to get the TCard which makes you an official student of the Toronto University.

Some of us discovering the Campus

So many other things to share, so many emotions and feelings, but probably, just for today, I will make a full stop here, but tomorrow I will continue with more experiences regarding this unique experience at the WHRI.

My best wishes for all the fantastic and powerful women that are with me, sharing this opportunity and also inspiring me. 

Toronto Canada, 2nd of May 2011