Central Appalachian Tribunal

Women's Tribunal:  Gender and Climate Justice:  Central Appalachian Women's Tribunal

Date:  May 10. 2012
Location:  Charleston, West Virginia USA
Contact:  Rosa Lizarde, Global Coordinator FTF - rosaencasa@aol.com

Tribunal Verdict is in - Coal companies: GUILTY!

Today we had the Central Appalachian women's tribunal on gender and climate change. It was an incredible event and experience. The stories and testimonies of the women of the Appalachian mountains being affected by coal mining and mountain top removal were extraordinary.  The persistence and dogged cruelty and crimes of the coal industry haven't deterred these women, their families, their activism, despite death threats --- these coming in different forms such as explosions near homes to remove coal from the mountain, coal dust making lung cancer very likely, poisoned water in wells, streams and pipes, or just blatant threats to the most outspoken activists.  

There is a real raping of Mother Earth in the Central Appalachian mountains. Mountain top removal (MTP), what has been done in this area for the past 15+ years. Basically, instead of digging deep into the mountain they are taking the coal from the top of the mountain which is much cheaper to do. They proceed to shave the top of the mountain, removing all of the trees, all of the vegetation, dead bodies (in the case of cemetaries) and breaking up the mountain slice by slice to remove the coal. The coal industry then fills another empty side of a mountain top with the useless mountain rock.

On the car drive from New York to Charleston (about 10+hours total) we drove through mountains for the last couple of hours. The mountains in this early Spring time were many shades of vibrant green. New leaves shown a brilliant green against a deeper, richer growth. The forests were teeming with a green! What mountain top removal does is leave a desert of lifeless dirt at the top of the mountain! All these beautiful trees are cut and removed. It is truly an amazing site to see (check out  Burning the Future: Coal in America, the 2007 doumentary. The devastation blows you away.

I haven't fully digested it all but felt compelled to write all you, in particular the organizers of the past tribunals and hearings---15 in 2011, 2 in 2010, 7 in 2009, 2 in 2008  and the 3 in 2007 which kick-started this for the FTF.  This first tribunal on gender and climate change in the United States was a splendid follow-up to all of those. It was well worth the effort. The women living on the mountains are amazing. What they've been through, how they are fighting and struggling is simply inspiring and astounding. Whatever small way we can help the cause and connect to a larger global struggle is well worth it. Bringing the message to Rio+20 will be key --- and by the way at the end of the tribunal I received a message from the official Rio+20 secretariat that our event request for the presentation of the tribunals at the Rio meeting had been accepted! The date is forthcoming but we will need to prepare further to present the findings of the past 15 tribunals along with the Central Appalachia and the upcoming Chicago tribunal. This good news added to the celebrating knowing how important it is to get the message of the crimes of the coal companies out in the world! Thank you to so many for separate comments congratulating us and expressing your support! Your messages are appreciated!

- Rosa Lizarde

April 19, 2012 



The Feminist Task Force launched the next series of the Women’s Tribunals on Gender and Climate Justice 2012 today at the AWID Forum “Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice” in Istanbul, Turkey. At the Forum session, Ecological Health of our Planet: The Climate Change Challenge,” FTF Global Coordinator, Rosa Lizarde, launched the follow-up series to the “Strengthening Voices, Search for Solutions” Women’s Tribunal series on Gender and Climate Justice. 

“Today we launch the next gender and climate justice tribunals which will take place for the first time in the global North, in the United States,” said Rosa. “All the other gender and climate justice tribunals have taken place in the global South in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It’s time to work in the U.S, in the ‘belly of the beast.’ It’s time to show how climate change is affecting women around the world, in the north and in the south, in similar ways.”

The first women’s tribunal on climate justice in the US will take place in the Central Appalachia Mountains and in partnership with the US-based Loretto at the UN NGO and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) based in West Virginia, as well as OVEC partners. The Appalachia Mountains is a region that has experienced persistent poverty. The tribunal will highlight how women living in persistent poverty areas and impoverished communities are being affected by climate-related issues. The tribunal will feature the testimony of women throughout the Appalachian mountain region concerning the effects of mountaintop removal and other coal industry abuses on their lives, families, and communities. The tribunal will take place in Charleston, West Virginia on May 10, 2012.The second tribunal will take place in Chicago, Illinois in June 2012 through partnership with the Loretto at the UN, the Eco-Justice Collaborative and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), a community group based in the city’s Mexican-American neighborhood, Little Village. The Tribunal will focus how women of color are being impacted by the City of Chicago’s Fisk and Crawford coal burning power plants, and other coal-related effects to the greater Chicago area. 

The Women’s Tribunals have been the flagship work of the FTF in calling attention to the centrality of gender equality to end poverty and making the links between the climate change and the feminization of poverty.  The FTF spear-headed the international women’s tribunals on poverty in 2007 and followed-up with tribunals on women and the MDGs (2008), social exclusion (2010), and the two series of women tribunals on gender and climate justice in 2009 and 2011.  The 2011 Tribunal series on Gender and Climate Justice was organized in collaboration with GCAP, Greenpeace International, and Inter Press Service, and took place in 15 African, Asian and Latin American countries in the fall of 2011. The Tribunals focused on the collection of authentic, specific and exemplary testimonies of grassroots and rural women who have experienced climate change related problems in their lives and communities, and their search for solutions.

For more information, contact Rosa Lizarde, Global Coordinator, Feminist Task Force at <rosaencasa@aol.com>

The Feminist Task Force was established under the umbrella of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) in March, 2005, emphasizing gender equality as central to poverty eradication.

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