About Women Hold up the Sky
Women Hold Up the Sky tells the story of how women activists affected by mining and other forms of large-scale extractives in South Africa, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are deeply engaged in resistance and an active struggle to take back control of their land, their rights, their bodies and their lives.
Journeying between these three countries, this documentary reveals the experiences and activism of women in three African countries but tells a much bigger story of the ongoing exploitation of natural resources and marginalisation of poor communities, particularly women.
The world is in deep crisis. The Earth’s systems are on the edge of collapse, and the survival of the majority of the world’s people threatened by resource grabs, ecosystem failure, wars, and climate change. The roots of this manifold crisis lie deep in a political-economic-social system, which is driven by extractives. In Africa, the costs of this system are carried by working class, peasant and indigenous women. Yet, it is in the living practices, heritage and ‘development’ hopes of the majority of African women that the alternatives, which the planet and humanity so desperately need, live. This film offers a rare platform for women to give voice and expression to these living alternatives.
Extractivism has very particular impacts on the bodies, labour, livelihoods and lives of peasant and working class women in the Global South and increasingly also the Global North. One under-represented area of women’s rights analysis is the link between mining, extractivism and violence against women. Extractivism is closely associated with conflict as corporations and governments work hand-in-hand to force community decisions in favour of extraction, dispossessing people of their lands and natural resources.
Climate change is a major ecological and planetary threat. Erosion, drought, and water scarcity are increasingly related to climate change, which has a serious impact on forest and land-based production. Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is 95% rain-fed, and across the region, women spend an average of five hours a day collecting water and firewood for household use. When water sources dry up, when lands become unproductive, and floods occur, it is African working class and peasant women who carry the heaviest burden of all. This is because of the patriarchal division of labour and power imbalances in their families, communities and society more generally.
In the African context, at this time, there are few short films addressing the specific question about how extractives, and the extractivist development model underlying large-scale infrastructure development, natural resource extraction and export, impacts specifically on the lives, livelihoods and bodies of African women. There are also very few films or resources that profile the evolving strategies and political analysis of grassroots African women as they grapple with issues of climate justice and even fewer opportunities to build women-centred and community-driven alternatives.
This film shares the stories of the often silenced, ignored and erased perspectives of African women, whose experiences and struggles are part of a global story of rebellion and resistance against an unworkable, unjust, unsustainable economic, social and development paradigm.
This film was developed by WoMin , an ecofeminist African alliance that supports local struggles and movements across the continent to expose the impacts of extractivism on African women and advance women-centred, community-driven and climate-just development alternatives.