Asambleas Ciudadanos


 

the Citizens' Assembly in the Southern Cone

 

 

Southern Cone Women's meeting

Translations : français . Español . English


Aims and their achievement


Taking into account the challenge of strengthening the women’s sphere within our Southern Cone Citizens’ Assembly process and within the perspective facing the challenge of having at least 100 women, from the 200 participants in our first 2010 Citizens’ Assembly of the Southern Cone in Iquique, Chile, the following was proposed in the announcement:


  • That a General Women’s Coordination of the Southern Cone Citizens’ Assembly be materialized, taking on agreements and formal commitments to become the responsible entity in this sphere.
  • That, together with this, an activities’ program be drafted collectively, which may include regional joint activities as well as national ones in each of the countries, to strengthen women’s work on every level, and which may coordinate the tasks of a Women’s Assembly so as to comply with the aim of our First 2010 Citizens’ Assembly in Iquique.
  • That a collective, permanent communication system be established which will allow, from now on, to coordinate the execution and monitor the compliance with the agreements and the schedule.

During the weekend of June 19 - 21 2010 approximately 40 women got together in La Plata, among them: Leslie and Marisol, from Bolivia; Paloma and Gony, from Peru; Janela, Gaby and Ula, from Chile; Ángela, from Córdoba, Argentina; and the hosts from La Plata, Argentina, Adriana, Letizia, Sofía, Nancy, Ana, Mariana, the grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (Adelina y Ramona, Susana, Cristina, Anita, María, Andrea, Betty, Nancy) and many others whose names I cannot recall and among whom there were students, environmental educators, journalists, teachers, social workers, mothers and grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, to meet, listen, talk, think, learn and enjoy the process and the participants.


Thanks to all of them, a rich atmosphere of open thoughts, respect (the representatives from Chile, we were very impressed by the children’s quiet participation and their respect toward the elders) and diversity of opinions could be attained. Opinions varied and were expressed freely, so much so that – at times – in the heat of the argument, it was hard to make oneself understood because we all wanted to speak at the same time. At those moments - when we seemed to be in a “henhouse”, as Francois put it - the Citizens’ Assembly fundamental, basic, common agreements were lost: Responsibility, Plurality and Solidarity. However, all participants were undoubtedly committed to promote a shared vision and to create an atmosphere of fair and comfortable dialogue for everyone.


The “House of Hugs” is a faithful synonym to its name: from the moment we arrived and met for dinner on Friday, until Monday, when we said goodbye, we all felt utterly welcome in this wonderful house. This seems to be the best example of women can achieve through commitment, love, strength, initiative and tenacity.


The original schedule was discussed on Friday night and changed by all of the participants. On Saturday we changed the timetable and content, since we started one hour later than planned and began by introducing ourselves one by one and, given the number of participants, we only managed to finish by lunchtime. More interested participants arrived in the afternoon, and our friends from each country began to introduce themselves and deliver a report on what has been done not only in the women’s sphere but also in the assembly’s meeting. The presentations from Bolivia and Peru were thought-provoking and aroused many discussions and, in order to relax, Janela gave a PowerPoint presentation about Hysteria, giving this woman’s issue a new approach.


The most concrete work was felt and lived here, at the House of Hugs - a private home turned into what it is by and thanks to its Director, Leticia, and her tireless collaborators at the Welcoming House for the humble, kids and women of all ages who get together in neighbourhood art and cooking workshops with the acknowledgement and gratitude of the neighbourhood. That night we met at a typical Argentine family all-you-can-eat restaurant where there was live music and dancing. It goes without saying that, although we were quite tired from the meetings, we still gathered to eat and dance until the wee hours and had a great time together.


All plans for Sunday morning fell through. Instead of re-opening our sessions at 11 a.m., as it had been planned, to inform and debate about the meeting in Iquique, each group started out on their own: some went to Buenos Aires to buy books, while others went sightseeing in La Plata; and we could only continue as planned in the afternoon, after a delicious barbecue. Ula reported on the Citizens’ Assembly meeting in November and Janela gave a PowerPoint presentation on Iquique. Finally, after a long discussion on the content and planning of the meeting, Andrea gave a very interesting PowerPoint presentation on the new Argentine Mass Media Law.


As we conversed on our way back to Buenos Aires, we all agreed on the admiration we had for the work done by the hosts at the House of Hugs and on the fact that it is an ideal to follow, since it is not pure talk and planning for “tomorrow”, but it is rather daily ant work to get food, education, recreation and happiness for kids and adults in the neighbourhood.


Results


The following ideas and proposals for the Citizens’ Assembly in Iquique arose from this enriching exchange:


  • the creation of a History of Latin American Women Chair
  • the creation of the Latin American Women’s Federation (experience already established in Peru)
  • the strengthening of the Constituent Assembly
  • a Campaign about food sovereignty – transgenic food.
  • Mass media and monopoly
  • Women’s social work: shared experiences
  • Women and Unions
  • a Campaign about human trafficking – migration Emphasis of women’s participation in the following axes:
    • a)Climate change
    • b)Human rights
    • c)Natural resource defence
  • A letter capturing “what women from the Southern Cone want” Sea for Bolivia
    • b) Peace approach – No Militarization
    • c) Education and Gender
    • d) Strengthening of the Southern Cone
    • e) Equal opportunities for free, secular education for women

As regards the very program of the meeting on November 05 to 07, the following issues were repeated, discussed and defined, and the participants made a commitment to fulfil all of this:


  • Requests for bus and meal estimates (proposals by Bolivia and Peru to estimate buses and accommodation in Iquique as well)
  • Request to send participants’ lists as early as possible, complete with names already defined
  • Demands to each traveller for a health certificate which should be handed in complete prior to the trip
  • Addition of elderly women (thinking about their comfort both during the trip and in their accommodation)
  • Addition of Afro-Bolivian women
  • Design of T-shirts and/or bags with the assembly’s logo (each country can define their own identification logo in the front, while the assembly’s logo will be in the back); manufacturing in each country and quantities were also discussed. Paloma’s proposal to lower costs consists of buying the T-shirts, drawing the logo on the shirts and manufacturing the serigraphy with the design created by each country in her country, Peru.
  • Organization of a barter market for art, music, books, instruments
  • Creation of a song of/about the Citizens’ Assembly (send lyrics and melody beforehand)
  • Cooking a typical dish was discarded due to Chile’s prohibition to bring food into the country.
  • Forms of transport from Iquique to Pisagua were discussed (bus and/or Chilean Army boat)
  • Cultural proposals: Presentation of two typical dances from each country, or presentation of a play (e.g. “The ravelling musicians” from Peru) live or on the screen
  • Travelling Party

One of the issued talked about during the return trip to Buenos Aires was how to include those women who do not have the chance to leave their children behind. The difficulties in going through customs, the long bus ride, the loss of a seat for another valuable participant, the possible discomfort felt by other participants, the difficulty in both taking part and looking after the children, among other, were all taken into account.


I would like to thank our friends from La Plata again, especially Adriana and Letizia who made this meeting possible. I send you a big hug and hope that we meet again with many more friends, sisters, and comrades in Iquique.


 

 

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the Southern Cone Assembly ont the web

Visit the webpage of the Assembly : www.asamblea-conosur.net and the different blogs linked to its initiatives : the General Blog of the Argentinan team in Córdoba, the Blog of the revue Pensamiento Propio, the blog de la Regional Integration Chair.

Pictures of the 2009 women's meetings



Have a look at the pictures of the women’s meetings held in September and November 2009

     
 



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