Who’s in the Trade to Climate Caravan?

07 December 2009

Sixty activists from the global South and Europe are currently touring Europe on their way to Copenhagen. Starting out at Seventh Sessions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Geneva from 30 November to 2 December, the tour passes through Italy, Germany, France and Belgium before arriving in Copenhagen on 9 December.

Cecilia Olivet of Transnational Institute and Mary-Lou Malig of Focus on the Global South spoke to Amparo Miciano, an activist travelling in the bus who works mainly on women's rights in rural areas.

Why are you in the Caravan and what do you hope to achieve in Copenhagen?
I am in the Caravan to speak out about the situation of women in rural areas and women in general. Women in both the rich and poor countries have common experiences and this is because the capitalist system is patriarchal and marginalises women. And they are the most affected by the climate crisis. In Copenhagen, I will join the voices of people all over the world to demand that developed countries live up to their historical responsibility of paying, and making real reductions in their emissions.

What solutions do you propose to solve the climate crisis?
We need a change of mindset and increased awareness of womens´ rights so as to empower them to act on these issues and engage with local and national government to demand action to support sustainable agriculture. Traditional agriculture can ensure food security and prevent further destruction of the environment.

What do you think of the market-based solutions being presented to solve the climate crisis?
We do not agree with techno fixes of the North. For capitalists, the climate crisis is an opportunity to make money. I think that carbon trading is a big hoax. I cannot imagine or understand how carbon in the atmosphere can be traded and paid for. These so called solutions veer the discussion away from the people who are affected by climate change. It does not do anything to address the impacts of climate change on the most affected marginalized sectors.

How are women, especially in rural areas, affected by the climate crisis?
Women in rural areas play a huge role in securing food for their families and communities, including household work and caring for the children. In securing the food, women in rural areas often borrow money from informal lenders so as to be able to have the capital needed for planting. But after the two super typhoons of Ondoy and Pepeng which wiped out crops, women were faced with no harvest and therefore no money to pay back the lenders. They then borrow from other lenders to pay the old debt and end up in a vicious cycle of debt.

How did you get involved in the struggles for social justice?
I started as a student activist at the University of the Philippines. I was part of the demonstrations against the Marcos dictatorship. This was the time I first tasted tear gas, learned how to run fast and blend into the crowd to avoid arrest. After the dictatorship, when Cory Aquino was in power, I moved from fighting underground to struggling above ground. I had a family, I had a child and I needed to earn a little bit to support my family but I wanted to stay in the movement and so I worked in the agricultural sector and organised cooperatives.

What organisation are you representing now and what are your main campaigns?
I am part of the World March of Women and the National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK), both in the Philippines. We advocate for the access and control by women of their land, coastal areas and ancestral domain and also for access to services such as health, education, water and freedom from violence against women and children. We are fighting for their right to sustainable agriculture, agri-fisheries and for women to have a role in decision-making on all these aspects. Finally, we are struggling for rights of women to be able to fight climate change and for peace in Mindanao.