Médio Juruá: Assembly Discusses Gender Equality

Women gathered at ASMAMJ's assembly - Photo: Fernanda Preto
Topics include menstrual health and structural sexism

March, 2023 –  A range of important topics for rural women, including equal rights, structural sexism, and menstrual  health, were the focus of ASMAMJ's Annual Assembly, held in March. ASMAMJ (Association of Agroextractive Women of Médio Juruá) gathered 168 participants for three days in the community of Roque, located in the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve.

The location and the date were symbolically chosen – ASMAMJ was created there 19 years ago. The event ended on March 8, International Women's Day. In order to encourage mothers to participate in the meeting, ASMAMJ provided childcare services, teaching materials and a painting workshop.

“We want the women living in the Médio Juruá region to feel represented. They should know they can discuss their rights and attract more visibility to what they do, both at home and at work. They should not be limited to supporting roles and should be seen as leaders," says Quilvilene Cunha, ASMAMJ Treasurer.

One of the novelties this year was a menstrual health workshop, which invited representatives of the “Dona do Meu Fluxo” (Master of My Flow) project to speak with the participants. This project was created by two local organizations, Korui Ciclos de Vida and Raízes.

The initiative was supported by the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ). Coordinated by Sitawi, the PTMJ has several partners, including USAID/Brazil, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA), and Natura. It counts on strategic support provided by ICMBio, the State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA), and OPAN, as well as local organizations acting as implementers (including ASMAMJ). 

In addition to addressing a number of taboos related to menstrual health and providing information about health and the female body, the organizers donated menstrual cups (a kind of silicone cup that fits women's bodies, dispensing with the use of common pads). The cups are reusable and are considered a more economical and sustainable alternative. 

“It was a very important moment during the assembly. We were able to share new knowledge, since no one had ever heard of menstrual cups. The session on menstrual health generated rich discussions, with much information and new practices that can transform not only the lives of those women, but also benefit their daughters, granddaughters, and cousins. It made a huge difference,” says Quilvilene.

The agenda included lectures on self-knowledge and self-care in partnership with the Carauari Municipal Health Department, which shared, among other things, information on family planning and how to avoid teenage pregnancy. A beauty clinic supported the event, providing haircare, manicuring, and makeup services. 

Woman holds a child's hand and they parade together

“ASMAMJ has been undergoing an institutional growth process in recent years, which has been very important to us. Our strategic planning now includes human development, self-knowledge, and valuing the role of women in social environments. This approach is recognized and valued by our members as key aspects for their engagement, and as tools that enable them to occupy more decision-making spaces,” explains Ronnayana Silva, PTMJ Coordinator. 

The men attending the event were invited to join in and to discuss topics such as violence, patriarchy, and power relations. They recognized the impacts of sexism on their daughters and wives, as well as on their own physical and emotional health. As a group they were moved by the discussions, and expressed support for women in their constant fight against prejudice. 

For Ronnayana, inviting men to participate demonstrates what Médio Juruá most wants to promote - unity and cooperation between all.

Interaction – Youth were one of the focuses of the assembly, including a presentation on the results of the “Gender and Youth Diagnostic in the Médio Juruá Value Chains" (read here in Portuguese). 

The presentation was led by the association in partnership with the Juruá Institute  to discuss the importance of women in sustainable production chains, in particular for oils derived from Amazon seeds and pirarucu.

Find out about other actions taken by women in the Médio Juruá here and at the Sitawi and PPA websites.