Women who stand up to defend human and environmental rights face specific and enhanced forms of violence. Between 2015 and 2016, there were 2,197 attacks against women human rights defenders (Women HRDs) in central and southeastern America. In particular, women who defend the land and natural resources against mega projects, many led by transnational corporations, face greater risks and are amongst the HRDs facing the greatest danger.
The specific risks which women face when confronting public and private actors have to do with their growing leadership in socio-environmental struggles, due to their closer relationship to land and natural resources. Very importantly, they are also related to entrenched and systemic gender discrimination, which socioeconomic conflicts tend to reinforce and intensify.
A report published by Alianza por la Solidaridad (Spain) analyses and gives visibility to the struggles and resistance of women HRDs that confront socio-environmental conflicts in Guatemala and Salvador.
The report “DestieRRadas” (land-deprived) documents 18 case-studies of human rights violations suffered by women who defended the rights to land, water and the environment in El Salvador and Guatemala.
Some of these cases present links to global operations by transnational companies, including European companies. This is the case of the Renace Hydroelectric in Guatemala. The Spanish company ACS (whose president is Florentino Pérez, president of the Real Madrid football club) participates in the construction of what will be the country's largest hydroelectric plant through its subsidiary cobra.
Ana Rutilia Icar, indigenous leader, academic and activist, has actively denounced the adverse impacts of the project which has already affected 29.000 indigenous people after the riverbed collapsed. After filling an appeal before Guatemala's Supreme Court for the suspension of the works, Ana Rutilia started to suffer harassment against herself and her daughter which continue today.