Working Together in Collectives
– from Long Live Our History: A History Book from the Zapatista Women’s Organization “Compañera Lucha”
When we began organizing and working together in women’s collectives is when we began to understand that we have rights as women.
When we began to organize women’s collectives many years ago, we formed the collectives with our own money, we each gave a little bit of money to start up those first collectives. When we started a women’s collective, first we would get together and talk amongst ourselves to decide what type of collective we wanted to form. We have organized many types of collectives, for example: vegetable gardens, community bakeries, and chicken-raising collectives. Each collective has its coordinators. All the women participate, young women and married women.
We always try to work well together. We are happy working in collectives, we believe that it is good for us as women, and good for the community. Working together in the collectives is a way for us to support each other, and to help the community. We feel that we are organized, united, and strong. Some collectives have a fund that they use to pay women’s transportation costs when they go to meetings or workshops. We think this is important so that we can participate as women.
The life of an indigenous woman is very difficult because we have so much work; also because we are often afraid or embarrassed to participate; many of us cannot read or write. This is why we must make an effort to participate. Participating in the women’s collectives gives us a chance to get over our fear and begin to speak up.
Now we know that we have rights as women. Before, our partners would scold us and didn’t let us leave the house. Now it’s different, now we have rights. We value our work and our participation as women, and the men respect us.
Many communities already have women’s collectives, but we want to advance more. It is important to continue organizing different types of collectives, it is important to keep moving forward with our struggle.