Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Global Women's Rights Forum: Stop Firestone Campaign

Tuesday evening, as part of the Global Women's Rights Forum at USF, Emira Woods from the Institute for Policy Studies, spoke about Firestone's exploitation of workers and the environment in Liberia, and the movement stop it.

Firestone (the company that makes tires), is the largest foreign investor in Liberia. They have a quota system, and if their workers do not collect the required amount of rubber, they don't get paid. The amount is unachievable (and the pay tiny), so women and children come to help their husbands/fathers. This means that Firestone is getting free labor from women and children. They are also dumping lots of toxins and wreaking environmental havoc on the community. You can find a lot more information at

The really cool thing is that there is that the workers and community members are organizing for change. The movement is a global collaborative effort, but fundamentally, it is coming from the people of Liberia who are most effected by Firestone's abuses. This is essential (read Pedagogy of the Oppressed), and I was happy to hear both the speaker and members of the audience emphasize the importance of this point.

I also loved her hopefulness. I've spent a lot of time studying all the things that are wrong in the world, and it can be really discouraging. I sometimes forget that by knowing everything I do, I am empowered to make the change I know needs to happen.

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