Declaration of the Feminist Forum against Free Trade and the Great Feminist Assembly

The Feminist Forum against Free Trade and the Great Feminist Assembly was held within the framework of the Peoples’ Summit “WTO Out, Building Sovereignty” on December 11, 12 and 13 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the face of the XI Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization held in this city.
 
The XI Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from December 10 to 13, 2017.
 
Once again, the WTO caught the attention of governments from 164 countries as well as great corporations, particularly interested in new norms that seek to provide profitable opportunities in the digitized economy of the future, detrimental to the advancement in terms of equitable development measures and reduction of inequality. Outside the conference, women, lesbians, transvestites, transgender and bisexual people, non-binaries, gays, Afro-Argentines, Afrodescendants, immigrants, refugees, black, displaced and indigenous women, peasants, self-managed workers from different regions, sectors, identities, ethnic groups and cultures, joined the group Convergence of Movements, WTO Out,  to build an alternative peoples’ agenda, celebrating the failure of the negotiations led by a project of neoliberal and corporate economic globalization.
 
Far from being a real “development round”, it unveiled the clear tensions among countries, the imbalances of power and the social crises felt before the Ministerial Conference. While rich countries and corporations encouraged new rules to deregulate e-commerce and to promote the free circulation of data in the hands for great transnational corporations, evading their obligations in terms of taxes, labor rights or rights to protect the privacy of citizens and consumers, at the same time, the resistance in developing countries continued insisting on the protection of popular sovereignty, agriculture and food sovereignty and on allowing the adoption of public service policies on water, electricity and other basic needs.
 
The “Feminist Forum against Free Trade” was held within the Peoples’ Summit, back to back these official debates, to analyze the patterns of economic violence and the impact of the so-called “free trade”; to debate on how trade openness affects living conditions and to share knowledge and grassroot and feminist alternatives against free trade.
 
Through our different struggles, we seek deep structural transformations to challenge neoliberal and extractivist macroeconomic policies that deepen inequality among people and peoples, increasing environmental degradation. As women, Afro-Argentines, Afrodescendants, immigrants, refugees, black, displaced and indigenous women, lesbians, transvestites, transgender and bisexual people, non-binaries, gays, peasants, self-managed and popular economy workers from rural and urban areas, we say that we’ve had enough of this model and we are working for an alternative, anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, anti-capitalist development model with environmental justice.
 
We have not been invited, as civil society, to join these debates. We have been excluded and also expelled. We endorse the letters of solidarity in the face of the political persecution actions of the Argentinian government that vetoed the entry and participation of representatives from organizations already accredited for the official ministerial conference. There are no grounds for this decision that clearly represents an attack on democratic processes that are already precarious, weak and barely transparent. These actions are clearly meant to silence the criticism against the growth of the so-called globalization of corporate power.
 
 Regarding the agenda and debates on the liberalization of trade and financial flows we think there is enough evidence provided by Feminist Economics that confirms how it unevenly impacts our daily lives and paid and unpaid work –domestic and care work- deepening inequalities and poverty, expanding unemployment and informality. Furthermore, financial exploitation, proliferation of banking activities and the compulsive indebtedness of popular sectors creates ties that hold back women and limit their economic autonomy. On the other hand, the precariousness promoted by the system ultimately erodes the solidarity community and social fabrics, increasing our exposure to situations of vulnerability and deepening all forms of heteropatriarchal violence.
 
Corporations take advantage of gender inequality. Accordingly, what we consider to be structural inequalities, are comparative advantages for governments and corporations, that translate into lower salaries and poorer working conditions. The signing and further success of this kind of trade agreements based on an unequal international division of work, is possible because the underlying structure is also unequal in terms of gender relations and, at the same time, their disastrous impact increases and deepens within this patriarchal and heteronormative structure.  These conditions of precariousness and inequality are used to create a race to the bottom of all standards of labor and unpaid domestic and care work, entailing a double burden for us, and this becomes a vital buffer to sustain life. The life created through this system amidst the growing crisis and the precariousness that this civilization crisis brings, is sustained by this unpaid work.
 
Driven by a feminism mobilized in the face of the current political problems in our territories, concerned about the multiple structural and daily oppressions in women’s lives, struggling against them massively and persistently, seeking to implement direct democratic procedures in its constructive and questioning practices, a feminism that risks and takes risks based on feelings of indignation and hope, we denounce:
 
 The viciousness against Mapuche women, children and young people indicates that in order to dispossess territories, the State has to focus its colonization plan on body repression. The processes of systematic repression in Patagonia are not politically isolated from what is happening in other Latin-American/Abya Yala countries where the State-corporate extractivist model (proliferating through several Free Trade Agreements) uses ruthless politics with extreme ferocity over land defenders and groups that are considered unproductive for their “development model”.
 
We also denounce xenophobic and discriminatory policies towards immigrants and their families suffering the impact of the exclusive prioritization of capital and corporate power that encourages labor exploitation. The pursuit of further foreign investment leads to the signing of trade agreements that promote globalization and flows of capital, while mobility of people across the world is questioned and criminalized. Nowadays, we know that immigrants make great contributions to international development and society through their work, with more than 600 billion dollars in production and remittances to their countries of origin, three times as much as international aid. We demand WTO to transcend this productive vision and consider migration as a human right (national, regional and global) providing freedom to cross territories without being criminalized, based on the concept of building universal citizenship.
 
Therefore, we reject the Joint Declaration on Free Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment released at the Ministerial Conference and aligned with the principles of neoliberalism and the WTO rules of the game.  This declaration is based on a reductionist and binary vision of women’s economic empowerment without addressing the negative impacts such as the threats to the livelihoods of women, lesbians, transvestites, afrodescendants, racialized, indigenous, urban and transgender people, dissident identities, peasants, quilombolas.  The trade rules promoted by the WTO favor privatization and restrict women’s access to water and land, education, community decision-making, health services and a long etcetera; they limit access to goods and essential basic services, encourage patent protection that increases the cost of seeds and medicine, and they promote forms of production based on the race to the bottom of all standards of labor, salary and social protection which affects us especially. We repudiate the political use of our struggles and demands to save a failed conference. Not in our name!
 
We fight for alternatives to the climate, care, financial and civilization crisis. We raise our voice for participatory democracies in our region and across the world. We embrace our colleagues from the Women’s Movement in Kurdistan who share their experience of women’s science and economics. Our goal is to call for an alternative, political and transformative commitment to change trade rules and the financial system; they should be socially and environmentally sustainable, within the framework of fulfilled commitments and ensuring respect, protection and the realization of human rights.
 
We demand:
 
  • The G-20, like the WTO and all Free Trade Agreements, only reflects the thirst for profit of transnational corporations rather than the needs of the peoples. It is no coincidence that both the WTO and the G20 are held in Argentina: this country wants to show itself as a regional leader in trade liberalization and neoliberalism. In the face of the next G-20 meeting to be held in Argentina during 2018, we demand guaranteed democratic practices, in terms of access and participation of civil society.
  • The demilitarization of our lands and bodies to recover our lands for good living (buen vivir) instead of brutal extractivism.
  • Justice and symbolic and economic compensation for transvestites, afro-descendants and transgender people who were victims of criminalization. For the implementation of the labor quota for transgender people and all other measures that guarantee labor inclusion in decent jobs. Recognition equals compensation!
  • Compensation and justice for Caribbean peoples suffering invisibility and, at the same time, plundering of common goods, workers’ exploitation. In solidarity with the women and people of Haiti!
  • To guarantee the non-persecution and non-criminalization of all human rights defenders, securing their protection. Freedom to all political prisoners!
  • Justice for Diana Sacayán, Isabel Arce Vera, Santiago Maldonado, Rafael Nahuel, José Delfin Acosta, Massar Ba! And all victims of persecution and murder in peoples’ struggles in Latin America, represented by Berta Cáceres from Honduras, a symbol of popular struggles.
 
We call on social organizations and movements of the Peoples’ Summit #WTO Out:
 
  • To mobilize on March 2 and demand shedding light on the land femicide of Berta Cáceres; to condemn the coup d’état and the systematic repression in Honduras. The 2009 coup deepened all forms of subjugation of democracy and spread to other countries in the continent. Berta is alive! The struggle continues!
  • To organize the International Women’s Strike on March 8 based on a new and broader vision of work that considers not only formal or informal paid work but also fully recognizes unpaid domestic and care work. Life would not be possible without this kind of work.  We call for the organization of the Strike, as a new political tool, through assemblies, meetings, sharing the implications of our work, our labor and living conditions.
  •  To move forward in our struggles to resist the current attack of international capital against peoples’ rights, through collective efforts at the forthcoming World Social Forum 2018 in Salvador, Bahía, Brazil, on March 13-17. Within this framework, we invite everyone to participate at the Women’s Assembly on March 16, to organize a self-managed workshop to evaluate the International Women’s Strike on March 8 and a meeting to plan actions with a view to the G-20 meeting.  To resist is to create, to resist is to transform!
  • To meet in Trelew, in October, at the National Women’s Meeting in Argentina, to provide the opportunity to exchange and debate on the implications of free trade in our lives.
  • To vindicate the Afro Matrix in our countries, so strongly denied, joining this struggle all together, as society, and we invite you to gather and join the celebration on July 25, the “International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women’s Day” and on November 8, the “National Afro-Argentines and African Culture Day in Argentina”. We refuse to forget the huge contribution to the economy of the African Community, through their work under the yoke of slavery.
  • The failure of the WTO Ministerial Conference is the opportunity to move forward and organize the Second Feminist Forum against Free Trade back to back with the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, in November.
  • The global resistance has been seen and heard in December in Buenos Aires. Once again, wherever global forums go, the resistance of the peoples standing up and fighting for their rights, will await them.
 
As feminists, we mobilize against trade liberalization, economic violence and neoliberalism, and we demand more equitable gender relations, economic and ecologic justice!
 
The struggle is global and feminist!
Women, Afrodescendants, immigrants, refugees, black, displaced and indigenous women, lesbians, transvestites, transgender people, peasants, united in the face of the civilization crisis!
 
Feminist Forum against Free Trade and
the Great Feminist Assembly
Peoples’ Summit:
“WTO Out, Building Sovereignty”
December 2017