“Todos Somos Maxima”- We are all Maxima “Maxima no esta Sola”- Maxima is not alone
Despite bearing the brunt of irresponsible corporate and state practices, the impacts of mining on women are not recognised. Maxima's campaign is about the determination of an indigenous woman to challenge Yanacocha's -Peru's largest gold mine- and their attempts to evict her from her land since 2011.
“Have you ever heard of lagoons being for sale? -asks Maxima Acuña- or of rivers or water springs being for sale?”
At the hands of the police, security guards and pro-mining groups, Maxima has experienced terrible gender based violence (GBV) including physical assaults, verbal abuse and emotional tormenting, as well as a lawsuit against her, under false accusations of illegal occupation.
Yet, despite what seemed insurmountable challenges, with her campaign Maxima was propelled from being a poor, indigenous victim of persecution to a symbol of resistance in the context of the global struggle over land, resources and territory.
1. Raise awareness of protection issues for women activists demanding a stop to irresponsible mining practice and specifically, providing Maxima with a platform to voice her experiences of repression and persecution
2. Demand for corporate accountability and development justice; including respect for communities' right to development on their own terms, to decision-making as well as to a safe, healthy and clean environment, their right to a life in dignity and finally, to end the criminalisation and repression of activists and defenders
3. Empower women activists such as Maxima, and demand a guarantee of protection for themselves and their families, connecting them to international solidarity networks.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
1.Enhancing - through various media- the visibility of Maxima's struggle for justice as well as documenting and disseminating evidence of GBV and human rights violations perpetrated by the mining company and public authorities against her family and other women human rights defenders in Latin America
2.Building strategic partnerships with grass roots organisations, national and international civil society organisations to expand impact of national and international advocacy and campaigning, as well as weaving links with other women human rights defenders to facilitate local, national and regional solidarity and support
3. Facilitating Maxima's direct representation at high-level forums, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN Working Group on the issue of transnational corporations and human rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the World Bank
1. Maxima's transformation from victim to a national and international icon for development justice, which led the father of Peru's acting president to recognise Maxima's strength and courage during a public intervention;
2. One of the first times a Latin American indigenous woman receives such high level national and international attention through social media campaign (Maxima's Facebook page has approximately 6,000 followers at the time of writing)
3. The creation of a support network for rural and indigenous women affected by irresponsible mining practices, consolidating solidarity links and enabling their transformation from victims into women human rights defenders in the context of the struggle for land and resources
1. The emergence of a social movement in support of Maxima created a wave in public opinion which was critical in influencing a December 2014 Court ruling which, until then was swinging in favour of the mining company
2. Maxima's narrative raised powerful examples of indigenous women's activism in Latin America and their struggle to shape their future on their own terms
3. Maxima's international profile has re-instilled confidence in her local community and contributed to the emergence of new women's groups resisting the mine and demanding their rights be respected
4. For the first time the struggle of an indigenous woman for rights was the subject of a number of national and international documentary film productions, including the acclaimed “La Hija del Agua” by Ernesto Cabellos Damian
In addition to the You Tube link is a Vimeo video:
The exclusion of rural and indigenous women from public life is an edifying challenge across Latin America; rooted in gender, social and economic inequalities, they are denied all forms of participation, particularly with regards to development and the exploitation of land and its resources.
Maxima is an indigenous woman living on a small plot of land in the Andean region of Cajamarca. She is poor, isolated and lacks formal education. These factors have great relevance in current struggles for development justice; threatened with displacement and dispossession, the power imbalance shifts clearly in the favour of foreign multinational corporations.
Moreover, across Latin America, the mining discourse is powerful, governments take side with business and the public is often indifferent to the struggle of indigenous people, women in particular. In this setting, defenders such as Maxima are easy targets of repression and criminalisation so her protection, was an issue right from the start.
1. No problem is too small or undeserving but a successful campaign must have its roots in wider social issues.
2. Although empowerment of those most affected by natural resource extraction practices is difficult given their invisibility and exclusion, their struggle for human and environmental rights versus corporate rights is an issue close to the heart of most people. Maxima is not alone
3. Challenging resource extraction in Latin America is a deadly activity. When it comes to indigenous women human rights defenders, building active partnership with grass roots activists as well as national and international solidarity networks is the only way to ensure their protection.