Ruth was chosen among our inter-generational activist network to represent EOTO World advocacy priorities at Rio+20, the UN Conference for Sustainable Development that took place in Brazil.
Ruth shared her motivations in an interview with us:
Tell us about yourself. Who are you, where are you from and what is your background as an Activist?
“I am Ruth Ferreira Valverde. I am 48 years old and I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have 26 years of service as a public worker as a surgery and obstetric nurse specialist in wound care. In my practice, I am familiar with the basics of special dressings and alginates hydrocolloids that give patients a short period of recuperation. In Brazil, I am a renowned expert in my subject, I have the honor of being listed on the international site GNEAUPP for international scientific cooperation for Brazil and Spain.
As an activist I always defended human rights via work with labor unions and movements against violence. Since 2008, activists like me are thoroughly pursued within our workplaces and in our personal lives in retaliation for speaking out. We are constantly combating psychological torture from the stress of trying to shake up the structure and politically demobilize the status quo. I regularly post about my struggles on my personal website and actively seek alliances at the local, regional, national and international levels to address the criminalization of women activists and complaints in Brazil of those who suffer prejudice.”
How did you find out about the opportunity to be a delegate at Rio+20?
“I frequently search for organizations related to promotion of decent work, policy, social justice and human rights. I came across EOTO World and saw the opportunity to be a delegate for Rio+20 as a way to work with the organization and network with others. As a delegate for EOTO World, I was able to be in contact with many organizations like the ILO, women and human rights authority groups and NGOs that fight against torture. I was also able to connect with organizations that promote decent work and advocate for changed policies and justice.”
How was your experience as a delegate at Rio+20? What did you gain?
“Attending Rio +20 was a very rewarding experience. I had the opportunity to expand current knowledge, exchange ideas about the reality of each country, and attend side-events. I was able to capture civil society demonstrations and interview members of the Major Groups. One of the pre-conference events that I had an opportunity to participate in was the Rio Dialogue Panels as an audience member. I was among many at the Dialogue Panels who voted on recommendations to the Zero Draft text.
My overall impression of Rio +20 is that the concerns of civil society were very well voiced through the Major Groups. My observation of the years of negotiations is that it left out how to have swift responses to climate change. Predictions of overpopulation have already begun and I have observed the reluctance, delay and conflict of interests of some countries to reach effective agreements, action and implementation in recent years. In my opinion, whatever government that does not prepare for the transitions occurring on the planet is leaving everyone, including their country, to suffer inevitable consequences that we already know can happen.”
What are some overall challenges you see happening for sustainable development?
“For Brazil, I feel that despite appearing to be a country that worships democracy, we need to work hard to curb corruption and corporatism. Instead, we must guarantee human rights in order to have openness and social advancement. The country does not respect indigenous populations, other minority populations, women’s rights and fails to give people real support to transition towards sustainable development. Brazil must fight against Violence Against Women, direct climate change, overpopulation, and increase gender empowerment. We also need to move urgently to educate citizens about sustainable development and create sustainable cities that integrate better environmental protections. The transition process of sustainable development in the world depends on us; state and society.”
Are you working on some of the challenges you foresee for sustainable development in Brazil?
“I am interested in participating directly related to human rights issues in National and International contexts and always seek opportunities to participate in democratic processes. I volunteer online by disseminating information and contributing to current recommendations on issues. I keep up with opportunities and information from places like GreenPeace, UN Women, EOTO World and others to get involved on different levels. At the moment, I have an online campaign to denounce the practice of moral harassment of activists fighting for rights.”
Overall, what are your expectations for successful sustainable development?
“All of us in the world need to rethink our habits and attitudes, change on a spiritual level. We must struggle for human rights, environmental conservation, preservation of flora & fauna, combat hunger, build peace and have participatory democratic action to implement sustainable development. Sustainable development would be achieved faster if we humans did not keep perpetuating false values that only benefit a few. We have to work for the common good on several levels to minimize risk, maintaining information integrity in order to exchange knowledge of the realities occurring. If people start forming a realistic consciousness, they can think and act with logic and become more humane.”