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Desire for change

by interview during PGA conference in Bolivia - 05.12.2004 20:08 

A collection of interviews with women that was recorded in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the 3rd international conference of the People's Global Action (PGA) network in September 2001. It covers women's involvement in a broad range of struggles: from culture-jamming in Australia, to coca-growing trade unions in Bolivia, from autonomous land settlers in Brazil, to radical environmentalists from the Ukraine. Political influences range from liberation theology to radical ecology, Marxism to anarchism, feminism to syndicalism and back again.

The main themes include leadership versus horizontal organising; the role of women in revolutionary struggle; the personal road to radicalisation; the potentials and pitfalls of the PGA network; resistance to "savage capitalism"; and visions of a better world.

We chose to do 12 interviews, solely with women for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are women activists ourselves, based in the UK, and we wanted to find out more about the experiences of other women engaged in political struggle around the world.

Secondly, following on from the first European PGA conference in Milan, and the gender conference in Panama in 2001, we knew that gender would be a central theme in Cochabamba. Despite a valiant attempt to integrate the gender perspective into the inner workings of PGA, men have dominated the conferences, gender continues to be an add-on, and in the past there have been instances of sexual harassment. Although there was a genuine effort to translate the idea of gender equality into practice in Cochabamba, women were once again silenced. This is our attempt to redress the balance.

Thirdly, we are highlighting the fact that women from all corners of the world are working towards freedom from exploitation and domination. We hope this will inspire women to act, and re-ignite those women who have found it virtually impossible to balance a politically active life with the demands of family and finances.

It can be difficult to fully grasp what PGA is, what it does and even who is part of it. But these interviews show that, however contradictory and chaotic this network is, it involves real people and has a direct effect on people's struggles around the world.

Given that the meeting took place in Bolivia, the majority of participants were from Latin America, which is reflected in the selection of interviewees. We would like to have had more of a balanced representation of women from all five continents.