Why is it important to include a non-binary perspective to promote gender justice, in particular in the land sector?
The new Gender Justice Learning Labs series (formerly Women for Women Learning Labs series) kicked off on March 23rd. The new series aims at exploring more in depth topics related to Gender Justice and gender transformative approaches. The first Lab focused on the importance of going beyond binary approaches and including a non-binary perspective in promoting gender justice across development actions and in particular in the land sector.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
- What are non-binary approaches?
- Why is non-binary perspective relevant to promote gender justice?
- How to promote non-binary approaches in the land sector?
- Tucker Landesman - Senior Researcher at International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
- Lui Arce Paniagua - Comité de Jóvenes de la Coalición Nacional por la Tierra Argentina (NLC Argentina)
- Timothy Salomon - Facilitator National Land Coalition in the Philippines
A CONTESTED LANGUAGE
The lab covered first the language around non-binary approaches, and afterwards focused on their relevance to promote gender justice and for the land sector. Tucker, Senior Researcher at IIED with an action-research perspective, highlighted how this topic is new and relevant for the land and urban sector, and it is now time to discuss it since for too long it was considered too political: we have an ethical obligation to include minorities in our work and there is a lot to learn.
He also provided an in depth overview about the contested language - which is not universal and differs across the world - to talk about gender, gender identity, sexual orientation taking into account the existing diversity, including non-western terms that go beyond a colonial approach. Tucker suggests, in this regard, to use ‘’queer’’ as an identity as well as a verb. Intersectionality and building solidarity across identity groups also emerged as crucial in Tucker’s presentation.
Looking forward, Tucker called the attention to existing knowledge gaps since gender and sexuality diversity are often made invisible. He stressed the importance of recognition (of how heteronormativity and cis-normativity shape access to land tenure, and challenging this), representation (building and documenting inclusive movements) and redistribution (exploring and replicating alternative models).
It is also important to take in account the specificities of urban vs rural settings and specific struggles, oppressions and needs. Data collection, stocktaking of what exists and specific case studies are crucial to proceed in this direction.
DIVERSITY AS A FORM OF RESISTANCE
Lui Arce Paniagua, from the Youth Committee of the National Land Coalition in Argentina, focused on the relevance of non-binary approaches in the land sector in the context of Argentina, with a specific approach to diversity as a form of life and resistance across the world.
Building memory and establishing the connection with ancestral traditions is pertinent to the historical context of Argentina. The oppressing cis-normative model and system reinforces the idea of bodies as territories, which is challenged by feminist movements claiming that neither women nor land are territories of conquest (“ni la tierra ni las mujeres somos territorios de conquista”).
Lui also presented a specific law (July 2021) which made Argentina the first country in Latin America recognising the possibility to have a non-binary ID and the 2022 census provided a specific option to identify oneself as ‘’non binary’’. Both represent a success in terms of recognition of the existence of plurality and diversity.
LAND IS INTERSECTIONAL
Timothy, facilitator of the National Land Coalition in The Philippines, reiterated how language, stereotypes and misconceptions shape societies and conducted the audience to an in depth journey through diversity and its relevance for gender justice and land rights.
Timothy highlighted how crucial it is to adopt the framework of intersectionality to be able to see the connections between systems of privilege and discrimination. Land in itself is intersectional and it has been affected by the interconnected domination of capitalism, colonialism, ableism, patriarchy and heteronormativity: as if we imagine a white, rich, able and heterosexual man that rules over land and territories.
We need to set up the agenda from below, inspired by diversity and inclusion, in order to challenge discrimination at all levels. In particular, in the land sector there is a lot of non-binary activism which it is important to take into account and make visible. Timothy presented and intersectional analysis of queer rural poverty and how the very identity of queer people contributes to being more aware of existing discrimination and more creative in identifying and negotiating alternative solutions. Self-determination is crucial in both defending land and territories and claiming rights as queer people.
In some rural contexts LGBTQI play an important traditional role for indigenous communities: this is the case of Babaylan culture, where precolonial spiritual leaders and protectors of the forest have a non-binary identity.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCUMENTATION, VISIBILITY AND DEBATE
A strong connection exists between gender justice, non-binary/queer and indigenous people issues in the perspective of fighting against the oppression of colonial domination.
From the audience emerged clearly the necessity and importance to document the situation of non-binary people especially in rural areas and discuss how to ensure that their rights and instances are taken into account. It was also highlighted how these opportunities for debate that we generate as ILC are extremely enriching for our commitment and pledge towards inclusion.