Women Leading the Way

Hundreds of supporters of Idle No More marched to Vancouver city hall in support of Chief Theresa Spence as part of a national day of action, January 11, 2013.Hundreds of supporters of Idle No More marched to Vancouver city hall in support of Chief Theresa Spence as part of a national day of action, January 11, 2013. (Photo: Caelie_Frampton)As is true each week when we report on resistance movements there is a lot going on, too much to report in one summary. One common denominator we noted this week is the prevalence of female leadership on so many fronts.

The past two days, we were inspired by women leading efforts against tar sands and environmental destruction in the wake of a wave of oil spills. On April 9, Nancy Zorn, a 79 year old grandmother from Oklahoma used a bike lock to attach her neck to a massive earth-mover, an excavator, to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from progressing. She said “I can no longer sit by idly while toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada and into our communities. It is time to rise up and defend our home. It is my hope that this one small action today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.” Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother to be arrested resisting the KXL.

In Texas, Julia Trigg Crawford, is a third generation farmer at Red’Arc Farm in Lamar County, Texas, 100 miles northeast of Dallas, where her family has lived since the 1850s. The farm produces wheat, corn and soybeans and supports a small herd of cattle. Crawford says it is “one of the most beautiful pastures in the county” that is “revered” for the quality of hay produced. TransCanada condemned the land, and offered her payment. She’s now embroiled in a tough eminent domain battle in court fighting the condemnation. She urges others to take TransCanada to court.

Activist Cindy Sheehan is on a Tour de Peace bike ride across the country. We’re posting updates of her journey. She’s stopping in towns, talking with people and spreading the word for peace and justice; promoting everything from free education and healthcare for all to ending dependence on fossil fuels. Sheehan says the effort is designed to be nonpartisan, telling an audience in Palm Springs “Politics is just a small part of what we should be doing to change the country.” She plans to get to Washington, DC on July 3.

This weekend Occupy the Department of Education, organized by women who advocate for education, held a protest in Washington, DC urging democratic not corporate education reform. Education reform consistent with democracy would include more funding, smaller classes, policy and curriculum input from citizens, and professional teachers committed to staying in the school systems (i.e., not Teach for America teachers).

April is a month of action against drones with events occurring throughout the country. Surely a highlight was the protests in San Diego whereMedea Benjamin of CODE PINK led a protest at the home of Neal Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics which manufactures the Predator drone. Benjamin, who has written a book on drones, says she wants “a transparent, national discussion about our use of drones. This is not the kind of world we want to live in. We think we are beginning to turn the tide on public opinion.” And, here is retired Colonel Ann Wright speaking at a drone protest in New York City.

Female activists from the group Femen protested across Europe in a day of action, in an international “topless jihad,” on April 4thin support of Amina, a young Tunisian woman who caused a scandal when she published photographs of herself bare-chested on the Internet in March.

The Idle No More First Nation’s Indian movement was sparked by Chief Teresa Spence in December 2012 when she engaged in a hunger strike to protest the seizure of land and natural resources from tribal areas. This week, the Idle No More protests continued in Red Lake Manitoba, Canada where HudBay Minerals is planning a copper mine as well as in Minnesota where Angie Palacio handcuffed herself to an interior door at Enbridge Energy to protest the companies operation on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Finally, we have been following a group of Native American Indian woman who are walking 1,200 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Mouth of the River. They carry with them a bucket of water from the headwaters which they will pour into the mouth of the river to show the river what she could be. Their purpose is to raise awareness about the importance of keeping the Mississippi clean for the next seven generations. They are now south of St. Louis.

These are only a few examples among many of women showing great leadership in the culture of resistance that will transform the country. There are many people involved in this movement (see the website for some of the other activists) – all genders, races and ages are part of this growing national movement for a peaceful, just and sustainable future.