On International Women’s Day 8th March 2020, dozens of women blocked Waterloo Bridge in London for two hours (chosen because it was built by women during World War 2) and held a topless protest vigil for women around the world who are suffering due to climate change.
Their bodies daubed with the slogans Climate Rape, Climate Justice, Climate Abuse, Climate Inequality and Climate Murder, they were highlighting the disproportionate impact of the climate and ecological emergency on women, which not only causes hardship, but also violence and rape.
Among the many speakers, Blythe Pepino and Sarah Martinez from Extinction Rebellion spoke about harrowing films they’ve been sent by Global South activists which show testimonies of women suffering rape and torture in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a direct result of having to search further for resources as a result of changing climate.
Sue Willman of the London Mining Network spoke of the organisation’s work with indigenous women in Colombia who are resisting trans-national mining corporations. While London-registered companies like BHP Billiton cause water shortages due to their mining operations, the women who resist or protest are receiving death threats from paramilitaries.
In Pakistan, women planning an International Women’s Day gathering were threatened by extremists that they would be bombed, and while many of today’s speakers in London were at pains to acknowledge the privilege they have to be able to protest safely in Central London, we were also reminded that worldwide 70% of those in poverty are women, and that even here, the life expectancy of UK women in poverty is going down.
Today’s protest was made more difficult by a strong cold wind on the bridge, and in the last few minutes of the planned two-hour event this was accompanied by a torrential downpour.
Solidarity protests took place in Colombia, Spain, Turkey, The Gambia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, DRC, Belgium, Israel, The Philippines, Switzerland, and Argentina.
More info at Extinction Rebellion