Zapatista Women

Zapatista WomenIndigenous/Women’s Rights - Mexico

The Zapatista Women of Chiapas Mexico are Activists on several fronts. They are central to the Zapatista Movement, a movement which seeks to re-imagine, re-shape and revolutionize the way communities live, govern and share resources, and to do so in partnership with the plants, lands and creatures across Mexico and beyond. The Zapatistas are in direct opposition to NAFTA, Globalization, and to a top down style of government which wields power from high above. The opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement was a lightning rod for many indigenous Mexicans, as one of the principle laws granting Native People the right to land was removed from the Constitution to make way for the devastating policies of NAFTA. The Zapatista rebellion began officially in 1994 the day that the NAFTA agreement was written in to law, and thousands of rural Indigenous Mexicans, The Zapatistas, declared war on the Mexican State, a state that had been declaring a silent war on them, their lands, their families, for centuries. Women played a central role in this rebellion, and continue to be leaders as well as providers in this 17 year movement. Within their own communities the Zapatista Women have an additional battle, the battle to attain equality as Women, to cast away sexism and age old patterns of gender violence.

In 1994 the Women introduced The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Laws to the Government, the people of Mexico and to their counterparts within the movement:

  1. Women, regardless of their race, creed, color or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle in ways determined by their desires and ability.

  2. Women have the right to work and receive a fair salary.

  3. Women have the right to decide the number of children they will bear and care for.

  4. Women have the right to participate in the affairs of the community and to hold positions of authority if they are freely and democratically elected.

  5. Women and their children have the right to primary attention in matters of health and nutrition.

  6. Women have the right to education.

  7. Women have the right to choose their partner and are not to be forced into marriage.

  8. Women shall not be beaten or physically abused, neither by family nor by strangers. Rape and attempted rape will be severely punished.

  9. Women will be able to hold positions of leadership in the organization and military rank in the revolutionary armed forces.

  10. Women will have all the rights and duties laid down in the revolutionary laws and rules.


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