The women of the Bajo Aguan

Photojournalist Danielle Villasana and I went to the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras to cover the unfolding history of a campesino movement for land rights. That story – the shifts in laws and international development schemes that led to the conflict, and the military and paramilitary forces that campesinos now face – we were prepared to document. An equally important story beneath those hefty dynamics were the women inside the campesino movement who struggle for their rights to be recognized even by their peers. These women face resistance for denouncing sexual abuse of girls in their communities by men who work the land; they are paid less than men for their work in the fields; they’ve had to fight for abortion rights or even for the right to get pregnant and receive pregnancy leave. Of course, it is no surprise that the story of campesino resistance to an unjust distribution of resources, despite its lofty goals, would reflect some aspects of the society it comes from. What is remarkable is the way these women  face their two simultaneous battles: by uniting in an inter-neighborhood network of women campesinos, leaning on feminist organizational resources from groups in the urban centers of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, and in pre-sunrise phone calls, before the rush of the day, assuring each other that they’re on the right path.

– Danielle Mackey