VALDEPEÑA RAMIREZ Aurora & CASTELLANCA RUíZ Teresa Huexca, Morelos, Mexico

An epic fight against a gigantic and destructive barrage

We are suggesting the prize be split between these two indigenous women who are involved in the same struggles against a huge thermo-electrical station being implemented in the region and which has been creating total havoc both on the environment and food chain and in the social structure of the community.

 In addition, this nomination was backed by 10 different nominators, from university researchers to grass roots groups. These women not only faced the opposition of a huge, tentacular economic project, but often had to face the incredible male chauvinism of their own husbands and brothers who were supposedly on their side.

Both these women have been organizers in a massive consciousness raising campaign and both women have been molested and harassed due to gender issues and simply because of their daring to stand up. Aurora (47) especially feels she has innovated in eliminating community prejudices against women, and the “shy, quiet lady” has become the “strong woman” who fights for the defence of their land. There was on one occasion a violent clash with 200 policemen when the people were manifesting against the establishment of a camp for the workers of the project. To quote Aurora, “You may think you can’t fight more, they make you believe your hands are tied, but we have learned it's not true, that there’s always a way to resist. I do it by taking care of people’s health, recovering knowledge and resources of the community. Raising my voice in assemblies when the men will not listen".

In addition, Aurora trained herself to become one of the most knowledgeable persons in her community in terms of medicinal plants, many of which are disappearing because of the project called “Proyecto Integral Morales", or simply PIM.

To conclude, we will quote Teresa (42) who writes: “I am an indigenous woman by heart, life in my town was beautiful because its land produced a lot, there were lots of fish,  there was always something to eat in the fields, its birds were beautiful, the little animals, everything. Now everything has changed. There is rancor, bitterness, anger, disappointment, family ruptures, there’s even people who won’t say “hello” to each other and all this is related to the problem of the thermo-electrical station. “I want my town to be united as it used to be. I wish it were all a dream, but at the same time I don’t, because due to this imposed monster project, I met a lot of people like me”. That’s why I’m here, still struggling with my comrades, fighting to keep our community together and protect it from other people’s ambitions.”

Their work contributes to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals-Agenda 2030 - Target #3, #5 and #15.