The bad news streaming through our media in 2017 has been relentless. However it doesn’t tell the full story. Beyond the headlines, there have been countless amazing social movement struggles in different regions of the world that deserve to be celebrated. Here are ten stories showing that people power works:
1. El Salvador Bans Mining
In a classic David and Goliath tale, this small Central American state took on a Canadian transnational corporation to become the first country in the world to ban metals mining. Farmer communities led the struggle when they came together in 2004 to save the Lempa River watershed. They built a national coalition in the face of massive repression (including the assassination of several activists), formed alliances internationally, took on the Canadian corporation OceanaGold and finally secured a mining ban in March 2017.
2. #MeToo Campaign Challenges Impunity for Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment has been a constant reality for women everywhere for generations, but in 2017 the wall of impunity was breached – suddenly and powerfully. Revelations of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s repeated sexual abuses prompted 1.7 million #metoo tweets in 85 countries, encouraging women in every walk of life to come forward publicly to denounce sexual harassment. Many men have been forced to resign from positions of power and influence, and there seems to be finally a consensus that sexual harassment must stop. This shift is not an accident or the credit of a few journalists, but the result of decades of tireless campaigning by women’s organizations worldwide fighting for equality.
3. French Law on Multinationals
At a time when corporate power has become seemingly impregnable, French campaigners showed that transnational corporations can be defeated. In a four-year-long campaign, they mobilized for a new law, approved in March 2017, which recognizes the responsibility of parent companies for human rights violations committed by subsidiaries,…