Each year, the Rapid Response Support team chooses and visits a country in the region, to approach the women's and feminist movement, personally talk with the activists-defenders about their work challenges, and share UAF-LAC experiences and its unique model of funding.
This 2019, with the political will to improve our response to Brazil’s socio-political crisis in facing a new fundamentalist and right-wing government, in February we talked with more than 70 women defenders in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
During this reconnaissance visit or outreach we learned about the problems faced by activists and defenders in the current political panorama. We also collectively explored issues that are fundamental to them: structural racism, criminalization, violence and state discrimination; sexual diversity, sexual and reproductive rights; digital activism and online feminisms; movements for the defense of territory and the environment.
At each meeting, the defenders’ emotional and physical affectation in this political moment was evident. Many stories, however, confirmed working on CARE as an effective strategy and a vital issue for us. Questioning harmful practices in activist exercises, and focusing personal and collective care on their resistance, has transformed and strengthened the movements. Today, maintaining life is a necessity, and raising awareness about the importance of taking care of ourselves has become urgent.
During this visit, we lived and felt how Marielle’s murder was a strong blow for the movement, and accelerated the emotional and health breakdowns that had been taking place in the bodies of defenders and activists. It is important, however, to emphasize that her memory was always present in our conversations, from the strength of hope and the certainty that her struggle is a seed multiplied in the feminist movement, because her power is felt in the bodies and hearts of Brazilian women who continue to fight for the assurance of their rights.
Our visit was defined by activists on different occasions as "A safe space in which we realize that we are thousands and we need to be together." Yet, the gratitude is above all ours. We want to honor every conversation we had in Brazil, effectively support women and their organizations, and confirm our solidarity in the midst of this panorama of violence and repression.
We will continue working together!