Women in Guyana are becoming a larger force in rice production, the country producing the most rice per capita in the world. When given access to the same resources as men, such as water and land ownership, these women farmers can help reduce poverty and improve nutrition. In order to meet the increasing global demand for rice, it is imperative that climate change vulnerabilities and gender inequalities are simultaneously addressed. Photo credit: Tanja Lieuw
New research is finding that gender discrimination across Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, and Americas, is being felt by at least half of the women farmers in agriculture. The survey involved 4000 women working in seventeen high-, medium-, and low-income countries in a range of roles and types of farming businesses. It aimed to understand the experience of women farmers today, their lives and their concerns, in order to establish a foundation from which to evaluate future growth. In order to break down the discrimination obstacles for women in agriculture, the results of the survey pointed to training female farmers to use new technologies, dismantling financial obstacles, improving academic education (in contrary to narrowly focussed training), and raising public awareness of the key role women play in agriculture, specifically as key actors in their communities and families in providing food and nutrition. Photo credit: Corteva Agriscience
Monifa Dayo, Carrie Y.T. Kholi, and Binta Ayofemi are three women using food as a vehicle for social change. They are amongst a host of Black women exiting from the restaurant industry after experiencing racism and sexism in the workplace. Monifa Dayo runs her own supper club while consciously incorporating social justice into her business model. Similarly, Carrie Y.T. Kohli’s ‘Hella Black Brunch’ brings people together around food and the African diaspora experience. Binta Ayofemi’s ‘Soul Oakland’ focuses on Black urban sustenance and restoration. Each woman views herown work as a form of resistance to the current political climate, and seeks to inspire communities of color in doing so. Photo credit: Richard Lomibao
The murder of Earth Defenders is on the rise, especially throughout Latin America, according to Global Watch. Nevertheless, Colombian women like Jackeline Romero Epiayu, Briceida Lemos Rivera, Isabel Zuleta, and Nini Johana Cárdenas Rueda continuously fight for the land and their livelihoods. Through community organization and outreach, these women are bravely resisting the expansion of mining industries and infrastructure projects that have devastating impacts on the environment and local communities. But with such force comes danger as these four women are facing harassment from Colombian authorities, anonymous threats to their lives and loved ones, and have even escaped attempted kidnappings and murders. Photo Credit: Ynske Boersman
Women across Mozambique and Tanzania are organizing their communities to improve local livelihood through sustainability and the protection of natural resources. This inspirational blog by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) explores the stories of various community leaders building long lasting projects. Like the story of Alima Chereira, who formed an agricultural association that teaches women climate-resilient farming practices. Or entrepreneur Fatima Apacur, who helped her community form a savings association that uses the ancient practice of group savings and pooling wealth to help community members invest in the future. Photo Credit: WWF/ James Morgan
Members of the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) -- a grassroots community of landless farmers -- are being confronted with harassment from military officials in the form of unlawful arrests, human rights abuses, and even murder in an attempt to displace the residing populations from the land for commercial use. Despite authoritarian rule, gender-based discrimination, and impending issues of safety, Thai women land and environment defenders are risking their lives in order to ensure the protection of human rights for not only themselves but for their small-scale farming communities as well. In May of 2018, women from the SPFT gathered in Bangkok demanding support from the United Nations offices and government agencies. By challenging unjust land rights and management policies and commanding reparations for human rights abuses, these women have pushed authorities to agree upon land titles for the community and to cease the wrongful prosecutions against villagers. Photo credit: Use Default
Leah Penniman and her organization Soul Fire Farm have developed a new mapping and reparations resource for black and brown farmers. Launched via Google Maps, the reparations map identifies over 52 organizations, their needs, and how to contact each farming operation. The project is an extension of a global movement for food justice, and the return of stolen lands and resources to Indigenous and black farmers. Consequently, the project directly addresses the significant wealth gap between farmers of color and white farmers. The site has had over 53,000 visitors to date. Photo Credit: Jonah Vitale-Wolff
Marion Nestle, an NYU professor in nutrition and an influential voice in food advocacy, has been working in changing the landscape of the food system for the past thirty years. A pioneer of the Food Studies program at NYU, this interdisciplinary field looks at food through a political lens throughout its course of production, consumption, and waste. For her, there exists so much confusion about what people should eat because of the power dynamics at play with agribusiness aiming to sell as much as possible at the lowest cost. Despite the consumer ‘movement’ influencing what companies put into their foods, top-down change is required to deal with systematic issues such as hunger. It is this sort of regulation that is extremely lacking in the Trump administration’s food policies. Whilst the food movement is fragmented in terms of goals and issues at stake, Nestle is optimistic with the role that young people can play in food advocacy, especially at a local level. Photo Credit: Bill Hayes.
Senegalese women are bearing the consequences of climate change as the fish stocks of Saint-Louis, a central fishing hub, are vanishing due to climbing ocean temperatures and rising sea levels. In 2017 alone, fish stocks fell by 82%. Today, the price of fish has become five times more expensive than in previous years. Such impacts are devastating, not only for the women who heavily depend on selling fresh and processed fish in markets as a main source of income, but also to the rest of the Senegalese population as up to 17% are experiencing issues of food insecurity according to the World Food Program. As a result, women’s practice of processing fish has become increasingly important as an additional resource of subsistence - especially the landlocked populations. In response, women’s associations are collectively gathering funds to accommodate the skyrocketing price of fish. Projects such as the Collaborative Management for a Sustainable Fisheries Future (COMFISH), offers workshops to women fish processors throughout Senegal providing them with resources to increase their profits, literacy courses, and alternative modes of creating revenue. Nevertheless, Senegalese women continue to challenge the status quo by urging for government subsidization of fish prices and more support from non-government organizations. Photo credit: Georges Gobet/Getty Images
Lorraine Herder belongs to a shepherd family: she grew up raising sheep and using its wool in a remote area on the Navajo reservation. But now, shrinking water reservoirs due to climate change are making it difficult to keep this tradition alive. Dr. Margaret Redsteer, a scientist at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, notes that the amount of groundwater has decreased drastically over the past century, putting a strain on the animals’ health and the Navajo way of life. The water crisis is also caused by other factors like coal mining, according to Nicole Horseherder, founder of non- profit organization “Scared Water Speaks”. Photo Credit: Sonia Narang/PRI
The International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), CSIRO and Murdoch University, organized a week-long workshop for small-scale crop and livestock production farmers from the water-scarce regions of Afghanistan, in Amman, Jordan. The workshop focused on training female farmers in plant propagation, forage seed production, nursery management, and enterprise development. The participants included gender knowledge facilitators, women farmers, members of cooperatives, women savings groups from Baghlan province of Afghanistan, and members from Agha Khan Foundation. The participants visited a nursery run by Jordanian women which encouraged them to go back, promote and share the technical knowledge they received during the workshop to their fellow Afghan farmers and are planning on establishing their own nursery run completely by women. The participants were keen on developing equal opportunities for women especially in the forage value chains, which is largely dominated by male farmers. Photo Credit: Mounir Louhaichi
Lim Li Ching’s new report on agroecology highlights the crucial role small women farmers play in preserving indigenous varieties or landraces of main food crops. However, their role expands beyond the preservation of indigenous seeds, and women also process, distribute, and market food, as well as act as key holders of knowledge around seeds, agricultural biodiversity, and agroecology technologies. Parul Begum knew that indigenous strains of rice would result in higher yields in West Bengal and Manisha in Haryana’s Nidana village in Jind used carnivorous pests, as opposed to a chemical alternative, to handle the crop destruction caused by harmful pests. These women play a significant role in smallholder systems which also provide over half of the planet’s food calories. Despite their valuable role, women face issues in legal ownership of land and access to resources such as land, seeds, or technologies, due to the gender bias that exists in agriculture. Lim Li Ching argues that empowering women, especially with regards to land ownership which consequently opens access to government schemes and resources, can lead to improved food security and health. Photo credit: Vikas Choudhary
Alwar, a semi-arid region in between the Capital of India and Capital of Rajasthan, is facing a severe water crisis especially in the villages of Ramgarh and Bheror blocks. Raziya Begum, a woman farmer of Ramgarh Block, is telling researchers about the kind of discrimination women face, and how climate change is further adding to gender disparity in rural areas. Similarly, Shima ji of the same block pointed to the extra burden on women due to their household and agricultural labor. More women work in agriculture, yet many lack the knowledge of farming techniques that are resistant to climate change. Additionally, women work longer hours than men, sometimes waking up at 3 am to wait for their turn to gather water from a well. Low rainfall and the depletion of groundwater for agriculture has made water a scarce resource, adding to the stressors already placed on women. Cultural norms legitimize this gender inequality in India, putting women on the receiving end of violence and negative impact of climate change. Photo Credit: Koushik Hore
The community of Lenca women, Indigenous to Honduras, has been practicing agroforestry for millennia as a sustainable farming method in their dry region. They are keeping this traditional knowledge alive by growing organic, fair trade crops like coffee in worker-owned cooperatives. Farmers like Eva Alvarado helped to create an all-female growers’ cooperative in 2014, as part of the Cosagual coffee growers’ organization. Their coffee is now sold around the world, and the women bring home a larger share of the profits than before. The Lenca group is known for radical work: Berta Cáceres, the famous Indigenous activist murdered in 2016, also belonged to the community. The idea of this cooperative was seeded at a gender equality workshop with the Association of NGOs. Agroforestry, which involves planting fruit and timber trees in the shade, is an effective way to combat food insecurity, erosion and acts as a carbon sink. Women in Honduras are coping with climate change using agroforestry, a method that can provide a sustainable livelihood to many communities. Photo Credit: Monica Pelliccia
Migration is one way women may be forced to adapt to climate change, but this displacement also puts women at greater risk for violence, a group of women leaders explained at a Wilson Center event. Eleanor Bornstorm, Program Director for the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), noted that because women are often in caretaking roles, they are also expected to volunteer and shield their communities from harm. Yet structural inequalities put women disproportionately at risk to violence during climate displacement. Carrying forward the former statement, Justine Calma, Grist environmental justice reporting fellow, vocalized the violence faced by women and young girls during climate displacement. For example, during the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, young girls were sexually exploited, sold and trafficked for food and other resources. Poor or uneducated women, women of color and migrant women are vulnerable to intersectional forms of discrimination, and their needs are often more urgent. Because of these structural inequalities, empowering women and enhancing their leadership may be the best strategy to address climate change, rather than mitigating its effects. WEDO is assessing factors impacting women during climate displacement, filling in the gaps unaddressed at the national and international level. Photo Credit: Agata Grzybowska.
Kanchan Dawn Hunter of Spiral Gardens, Kelly Carlisle, founder of Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, and Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow, are three women of colour who are challenging the dominant image of white, male farmers in the agricultural industry. Females farmers are underrepresented both in terms of ownership but also with respect to the power dynamics in the agricultural system. For them, the act of growing food is intrinsically political, and is a way of empowering marginalized communities to re-establish their food sovereignty and restore their connection with themselves and planet Earth. Spiral Gardens provides free educational programs taught at its community farm and hosts community work days. Acta Non Verba aims to empower young people through urban farming and conducts field trips and farm visits. Farms to Grow supports marginalized farmers around the country who are practicing sustainable agriculture. Other organizations such as MESA and Urban Tilth also work to support a sustainable and equitable food industry. Photo Credit: Andria Lo.
Women in India hold significant but overlooked roles in agriculture. The Census of India (2011) reveals nearly 98 million women have agricultural jobs. Due to decreasing economic opportunities in rural areas, young people and men are moving to urban areas, leaving women behind to farm. To recognize the importance of female farmers, the government of India declared October 15th as Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas (National Female Farmer Day). This is a great step forward given women have been historical left out of agricultural narratives. The way forward is to give land rights to women while strengthening the existing government policies for female farmers in India. Photo Credit: Vikas Choudhary
The new documentary, Dolores, celebrates the life of revolutionary Dolores Huerta. Huerta is an activist, organiser, cofounder of the United Farm Workers (UFW), and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Due to sexism and discrimination she never received the same recognition as her UFW cofounder, Cesar Chavez. This documentary aims to make amends to this by demonstrating Huerta’s fearless leadership in the Farm Workers Movement. Huerta is also depicted raising awareness about the United States’ reliance on pesticides and industrial agriculture including the effects of exposure to toxic synthetic chemicals. Photo credit: Bioneers.
Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America is considered one of the most at risk countries by World Risk Report 2016. Natural disasters and poor socio-economic conditions increase the vulnerability of Nicaragua citizens. To analyze the gender dimension of such vulnerability, Lisa Segnestam, researcher from Stockholm Environmental Institute wrote a paper that explores the socio-economic and environmental factors contributing to gender inequality. Her research findings unveiled that lack of control and poor access resources has increased the gender gap which further impacts the ways Nicaraguans respond to climate change. Photo Credit: Lisa Segnestam.
Standing up against local officials denying their right to land, 40 women from the village of Pallur in India’s state of Tamil Nadu have taken matters into their own hands, forming a collective and farming on a local plot of land. Led by resident Shakila Kalaiselvan, the collective is made up of Dalits, a social caste that has traditionally suffered discrimination. While prejudice against Dalits has been banned in the state of Tamil Nadu, ill-treatment persists, with about two-thirds remaining landless. This categorization added with their gender status has created a simultaneous strand of discrimination – to which the women of Pallur will not tolerate. In response to land denial, last year, the collective transformed an unused 2.5-acre (1 hectare) plot from overgrown weed to a plot of beans, corn, and millet. And the work has only just begun. While the group was opposed by upper-caste men and local officials, the women have inspired a second collective of 40 women plans to clear another 2.5 acres of common land in the near future. Picture Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandran
Equitable food systems advocate Anna Lappe addresses the hypocrisy that exists in the presence of the biggest multinational food and beverage corporations within the United Nations public health decision making process. As these corporations are the direct perpetrators and beneficiaries of childhood obesity and other health epidemics worldwide, Lappe highlights the global call for the creation of policies to bar the influence of “vested interests” of big food and beverage companies, similar to Article 5.3, which halted the tobacco industry from similar influence. Photo Credit: Leonardo Sa
Women farmers in the United States are taking a stand against the exploitative, male-dominated, profit-oriented, conventional food and agricultural sector. In fact, since 1978, the number of U.S. women farm operators has grown by nearly 300 percent. Combating the gendered and racialized food system, these women are shifting the tides of injustice by growing food, organizing their communities, and changing policy. Photo Credit: Impact Photography
In response to events at the 2017 World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting, Indian seed-saving organization, Navdanya, released this article, which honors and calls to attention the Diverse Women For Diversity Declaration, which was issued during the 1999 Seattle WTO meeting. The full declaration shares women’s analysis and responses to how genetically modified seeds, intellectual property rights, and patents are impacting food, medicine and agriculture systems; Indigenous peoples rights and lands; and the health of the Earth. The declaration calls out the WTO and its unchecked support of free markets and unjust economies, presenting a collective voice of women standing for life and diversity - and against the interconnected dangers of the global war system, corporate free market economy, and agribusiness industry.
Here’s How The All-Woman Chief And Council Of The Saik’uz First Nation Is Changing The Way Leadership Works
Early 2017 was marked as an auspicious year for Saik'uz First Nation which selected five women – Priscilla Mueller, Jasmine Thomas, Marlene Quaw, Allison Johnny and Chief Jackie Thomas to lead the tribe. The council of five women identified four key areas to work – governance + finance, environmental stewardship, socio-cultural issues, and education + employment. Jasmine Thomas, the youngest member of council was inspired to lead after Chief Thomas's success against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Her work helped lead to the Tsilhqot'in Land Ruling, which now requires the government and companies to work with First Nations in order to develop natural resources, rather than going around them. Photo Credit: Andrew Kurjata/CBC
On the International Day of Struggle Against Violence Towards Women, La Via Campesina launched a campaign and called on its global allies organizations and members to join together to condemn structural violence against peasant women. As their statement explains, structural violence is rooted in capitalistic and fascist patriarchal societies which discriminate against women. Peasant women especially, are victims of forced displacement, prostitution, human trafficking and gender-based violence on a regular basis. The campaign purposefully focuses on both peasant men and women, recognizing that it will take the voices of many breaking their silence to end these violations. Photo credit: La Via Campesina
The increasing feminization of agriculture is an expanding market for women farmers in northern India. They are organizing themselves in self help groups and cooperatives such as Aarohi, Chirag and Mahila Umang (one of largest cooperatives in Uttrakhand) by helping each other to bear financial expenses. These cooperatives promote the traditional way of agriculture in nearby states like Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya along the restoring the hills by reforestation. In most of these states, men and young people have moved to urban areas. So, now the women who are left behind are creating balance between the rural economy and ecology, says Kalyan Paul, co-founder of Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation in Almora, Uttrakhand. Photo Credit: Esha Chhabra
Climate change brings considerable risks to an already fragile economic and environmental situation in rural Egyptian women’s lives. The agriculture sector is largely comprised of women, with millions of them reliant on its economy for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, this sector is unstable and wages are, exacerbating existing conditions of poverty and environmental degradation. Women find themselves unable to exercise agency over land rights because they own only 5% of Egyptian land. This compromises their ability to make decisions about their lives, pursue educational opportunities and to understand basic financial literacy. It is estimated that 27 million women live in rural areas and of those millions, 32 percent are poor women working in agriculture. The average daily wage for a seasonal worker in Egypt is anywhere from $5-$8 a day and is usually lower for women compared to men. Food insecurity coupled with low wages, makes agriculture risky for already impoverished women. Photo Credit: Middle East Institute
Women of Karnataka, South India, in collaboration with the Women’s Earth Alliance Seeds of Resilience project, are taking action to protect local agricultural seed biodiversity and intergenerational knowledge systems, as another path in the face of pervasive and heavily polluting and exploitative industrial agriculture developments in the Western Ghats region. As women grow their knowledge and a network of women engaging in seed stewardship and sustainable traditional farming practices, they also grow in micro-finance management skills, leadership skills, and empowerment. Photo credit: Vanastree
Murder Of Celedonia Zalazar, Community Judge And Defender Of Indigenous Territory On Caribbean Coast
Celedonia Zalazar Point, a community judge and defender of indigenous land rights, was unjustly murdered due to escalating territorial disputes between Indigenous communities and imperialist settlers. After Bernicia Dixon Peranta, she is the second women’s human rights defender to be murdered on the Caribbean Coast, in addition to numerous deaths and displacements due to government inaction. Photo credit: Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
A short video by Uthema Maldives presents the story of Aminath Moosa, woman farmer from Vaadhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, who has been struggling for the last 3-4 years with problems with her land and crops, which she attributes to climate change impacts on the island, which has affected seasonal and rainfall patterns. Photo credit: Uthema Maldives
Mary Gichuki, a farmer in Kiambu County, is among many small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa advancing agricultural innovations to adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts on food security. With support from the World Agroforestry Centre, Gichuki not only plants drought-resistant, high-protein fodder trees as alternative animal feed, but also sells fodder seeds and teaches other farmers how to use them. She helps over 60 customers each month benefit from this hardy crop.
Farmers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula often struggle to make a living as poor soils, epic snows and a fleeting growing season threaten their livelihoods. However, women like Landen Tetil are working towards a more food secure future. Landen was the sole participant in an incubator farm project that provided her with training and tools to overcome punishing climate extremes and start a professional enterprise. She now grows 147 varieties of crops, most of them outside, and provides her community with fresh food. Photo credit: Civil Eats
Women from nine countries in Southern Africa united at a gathering of the Rural Women’s Assembly to speak out regarding challenges they are facing as women farmers, as their countries seek to instate Farmer Input Subsidy Programmes (FISPs), which encourage industrial and chemical farming inputs, including use of GMOs. Women shared their concerns around forced loss of Indigenous seed varieties, and the violent impact of fertilizers and pesticides on lands, waters, and identities and lifeways—and laid down demands to their governments to right continuing injustices against rural women and the land. Photo credit: Rural Women’s Assembly
The Invisible Farmer Project is Australia’s largest-ever study of women farmers. The project, a 3-year nationwide partnership between rural women, academic researchers, the Australian government, and cultural organizations, aims to document the vital role of women in agriculture to assist the development of gender-sensitive public policy. Photo credit: Museums Victoria
Women’s Earth Alliance recognizes the importance and the majority of women farmers in India. However, they are not recognized or protected by law in many places in India. This is because religious laws and cultural practices hinder and discriminate against women’s ownership of land. When women own land, it is beneficial overall to themselves, their families, and crop production; they have more security and are able to acquire loans to invest in their households’ needs, such as nutritious food and education, among many other benefits. Read to know more about how to diminish vulnerability and insecurity by empowering female farmers. Photo credit: Express Photo/Prashant Ravi
Women are often denied the right to own land, even though they work on it more than men. Nearly three quarters of rural women in India depend on land for their livelihoods, compared to about 60 percent of rural men, as lower farm incomes push many men to the cities for jobs. Women face numerous legal and social hurdles to owning land, in addition to the social bias against being widow, especially in rural areas. With more than 46 million widows, India has the highest number of widows in the world. Photo credit: Reuters
La Via Campesina Peasants Initiate Debate On Gender And Sexual Orientation Diversity In The Movement
La Via Campesina is opening dialogue within its network to discussing how people in rural areas are targeted due to different sexual orientation that the heteronormative one. This LGBTQ self-organized event took place during the VII International Conference in the Basque Country, Spain, and presented an important first step for the network to consider this intersectional issue in its official political agenda and actions. Some member-organizations from La Via Campesina already fight for LGBTQ rights internally as well, such as the Landless Movement of Brazil (MST), the Sindicato Labrego Galego (SLG), and the European Coordination Via Campesina. Photo credit: La Vía Campesina
The Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) of Southern Africa held its 3rd annual feminist school under the theme “Land, Seeds and Labor: Women Hold More Than Half the Sky.” The space offered the women an opportunity for critical engagement around how power works and interacts within the economic, social, political, religious and cultural spaces to structurally deny women their rights over natural resources such as land and seeds. Feminism grounded in the specific realities of rural women of Africa is a revolutionary tool to raise consciousness and to help organize in dismantling patriarchal capitalism. Photo credit: Rural Women’s Assembly
Civil Eats interviews Laura Lengnick, a major player and thinker on agriculture and the environment, delving into her background, career, and philosophy. Lengnick has published extensively on the current unbalanced food system and problems generated by the U.S. industrial food system. Her most notable work, “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate” has contributed greatly to this field. During her versatile career Lengnick has acted as a soil scientist, policymaker as a Senate staffer, USDA researcher, professor, sustainability consultant, and advocate. She was also selected as a contributor to the Third National Climate Assessment, the authoritative U.S. Climate Report. Currently she lives in the North Carolina mountains where she bio-intensively tends to her 3,000-square-foot micro-farm. Photo credit: Climate Listening Project
The author of this article, Geumsoon Yoon, is a South Korean small-scale farmer, leader of the Korean Women Peasant Association, and a member of the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina. As a female peasant farmer, she highlights global efforts to resist corporate power and free-trade deals that threaten rural self-sufficiency, and describes how peasants around the world are standing up for the small scale, local agricultural systems that have developed over 20,000 years, feed around 70% of the world’s population, and places Mother Earth in the centre of its philosophy. As they fight a system which turns food from a common good into a commodity and the erosion of sustainable food systems, Yoon and her comrades often meet violent repression, however, these brave farmers continue to demand their right to decision making power over things that affect their lives. Photo credit: Reuters
Kavita, a landless widowed woman in rural southern India, works tirelessly to overcome the debt her husband left unpaid. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have land of her own, which makes her ineligible for government aids or loans. Such limited access to the land she works on not only limits her economic empowerment and ownership, but also hinders her ability to stand up against gender-based violence as well. The percentage of women who own land in rural India is just about 13%. Photo credit: Reuters
Tanya Fields, founder of the organization Libertad Urban Farm, shows in this short movie how growing organic food in urban settings, as well as in rural places, is so important for black communities’ empowerment. When considering the high use of agrotoxins and other chemicals inside vegetables that most people consume everyday, Tanya’s work is opening a space for urban farming, where people from South Bronx grow their own food. This improves the community’s access to quality food. Her initiative supports young people and also builds a stronger sense of community, autonomy and food security. Photo credit: The Root
Saida Soukat, 27, is one of the Moroccan women farmers at the forefront of the Sulaliyyates movement for for women’s land rights. The women have been fighting the privatization of tribal lands for more than 10 years, while promoting women’s equal rights to land tenure and inheritance, in a country where access to land by women is still a big issue. They are challenging patriarchal structures and creating change, notes Zakia Salime, from Rutgers University. Saida Idrissi, of the Moroccan Association for Women’s Rights, also helps organize the movement, providing training and assistance in legal matters and negotiations. Although there have been constitutional advancements, laws are still very unfavourable to women, putting them at a disadvantage. This is why women such as Fatima Soukat, 93, still participate in the fight. Photo credit: Aida Alami/The New York Times
In Meghalaya, where Indigenous Indian societies are matrilineal and women inherit land and decide what is grown on it, communities not only have a strong climate-tolerant food system, but they also grow some of the rarest, medicinal and edible plants in the world. These women in northeastern India are proving that when women are treated as equal and have equal land rights under the law, they shine as leaders in sustainable development and policy. Photo credit: Manipadma Jena
Tara Houska, an Ojibwe woman of the Couchiching First Nation who is a tribal attorney in Washington, D.C., and Native American Affairs Advisor to Bernie Sanders, discusses the biggest challenges and lessons from her time on the front line at Standing Rock and what’s next in the fight against corporate environmental destruction and systemic racism. She advocates engaging with local governance, taking direct action (such as protesting or participating in lawsuits) or indirect action (such as refusing to support corporations that fund destructive activities), and using social media to raise awareness of climate issues and protests. Photo credit: NITV
Researcher Abaki Beck published a report entitled “Ahwahsiin: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Contemporary Food Sovereignty on the Blackfeet Reservation” (ahwahsiin translates to “the land where we get our food”), featuring oral history interviews with nine Blackfeet elders who discussed the nation’s traditional foods and the health issues connected to a modern American diet. Beck partnered with Saokio Heritage, a community-based and volunteer-run organization on Blackfeet. The report was funded by a $10,000 grant from the First Nations Development Institute and is available on the organization’s website. Photo credit: Yes! Magazine
Alice Hinman is the founder of a bee sanctuary and sustainable honey company in Raleigh, North Carolina. A natural beekeeper, she see the decline in pollinator and honeybee population worldwide as an opportunity to tackle a global challenge, to which she is responding by producing honey for Raleigh's network of local restaurants. She is passionate about supporting local food and creating green jobs rooted in sustainability and community. Photo credit: Johnny Gillette
Sheryll Durrant is a leader of the urban farming movement in New York City, which engages with more than 600 community gardens throughout the city with the GreenThumb program. She began volunteering at a community garden in her neighborhood during the financial crisis in 2008 and has since gotten higher education in farming. Through her work at the Sustainable Flatbush garden, Sheryll saw the importance of reaching out to the community to understand their needs, which increased member attendance at events and engagement with the garden. Sheryll also expanded her work to other neighborhoods with high levels of food insecurity or with many refugees, working as a garden manager and a seasonal farm coordinator at the Kelly Street Garden and the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Community Farm, respectively. Margaret Brown (Natural Resources Defense Council) who works on food issues, also reiterates how important these places can be for more access to fresh and quality food, as well as a place for socialization, integration, and nutritious education. Photo credit: Keka Marzagao/Sustainable Flatbush
Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator and co-owner of Soul Fire Farm, advocating for food sovereignty and racial justice. Through her work, she reaches out to black, Latino and Indigenous communities, including youth, empowering them with jobs and trainings regarding land rights, oppression, and agriculture. She aims to improve access to quality and natural food for people of color. Penniman believes in the intersectionality of fights and that food security is also related to access to quality education, and healthcare. She also explains more about her trajectory and mentions her experience at The Food Project, a youth leadership project. Photo credit: Leah Penniman
Ten female urban farmers are changing the urban agriculture movement: Erika Allen carries out multiple food system projects in Chicago, while Natasha Bowens is a writer and advocate for the black farming movement. Kelly Carlisle is the founder of the grassroots NGO Acta Non Verba, which focuses on teaching youth about gardening, businesses and finance. Natalie Clark established the Harvest Blessing Garden in Jacksonville, an urban lot in where she teaches sustainable and urban farming. Gail Myers is an academician with a documentary Rhythms of the Land and a non-profit Farms to Grow, through which she explores food equity and racial relations. Read the article to learn about the work of Jamila Norman, Leah Penniman, Karen Washington, Yonnette Fleming, Lindsey Lunsford and more!
In this article, Jennifer Allsopp reports on the second day of the 2017 Nobel Women’s Initiative gathering in Dusseldorf, Germany, opening with inspiring words from Helen Knott, a human rights activist from the Prophet River First Nation in Canada. Knott and fellow activists Khadijeh Moghaddam (Iran), Julienne Lusenge (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Yanar Mohammed (Iraq), Veronica Kelly (Ireland) and Mariama Songo (Senegal) spoke about how Indigenous knowledge and intergenerational movements help communities fight climate change and live sustainably. Photo credit: USOFORAL
Manju Kumar, manager of Sarvodaya Farms in Los Angeles, believes that today’s problems are rooted in our disconnection with nature. Her permaculture urban farm provides a pathway towards reconnecting with the land through growing food within city limits. For Kumar, farming is also act of women’s resistance because of the autonomy that comes with digging your hands deep into soil. Farming is still extremely male dominated in the United States. Moreover, in Los Angeles, 1 in 10 families suffer from food insecurity or go hungry despite Southern California holding claim to one of the most agriculturally productive territories in the world. Katie Lewis, Zoe Howell, Leigh Adams, Mireya Arizmendi de Haddad, and Lindy Ly are fellow women urban farmers and gardeners who are leading the way in making food more accessible for all. Photo credit: Link TV
AWID pay tribute to Jane Julia de Oliveira as part of their series that honours the memory of over 350 women human rights defenders from 80 different countries, highlighting these women in our collective memory so their struggle lives on. Jane Julia de Oliveira, from the Pará state of Brazil, was a land rights community leader, environmental defender, and president of Associaҫão dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras Rurais (Association of Rural Workers). On the 24th May 2017 she was shot dead by local police, along with a group of people on the farm where she worked. Photo credit: AWID
In a world where half the global seed market is controlled by only three corporations, Jane Rabinowicz, a motivated game changer, is fighting for seed sovereignty and biodiversity. Using her grandparents and the lives they led as an inspiration, she is fighting in her home of Montreal to give small farmers more control over their crops.
Ana Célia, Edite Rodrigues, and Odete Mendes are among many rural Brazilian women who are struggling to make a living off of sugarcane farming but face unhealthy working conditions and unfair wages—conditions being exacerbated by land monopolies and market speculation. In the case of women like Maria Souza and Lusiane dos Santos, these stories have repeated themselves throughout multiple generations, with mothers and daughters being forced to work in the fields to sustain their families. Despite small farmers being most responsible for food production and job creation in the countryside, they occupy less agricultural land and receive less state support than large landowners and corporations, causing food insecurity and displacement in rural communities and subjecting women workers with limited alternatives to degrading conditions. That is why leaders like Carlita da Costa, president of the Cosmópolis Rural Workers Union, is fighting for labor rights by organizing rural women and focusing on structural changes to ensure secure markets for women farmers, public resources and social services, accessible education in the countryside, and basic rights to land and food. Photo credit: Feminist Alliance for Rights
Vanastree, in partnership with the Women’s Earth Alliance, launched the Seeds of Resilience project, aimed at women and youth. The project is training participants to use cameras and other devices to record and transfer traditional knowledge on seeds and food. In preparation for the course, the organizers developed a curriculum to train these women on photography; many of them had never used a camera before. Photo credit: Vanastree
Internationally recognised activist, scholar, and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology, Vandana Shiva, was the keynote speaker at The J. Jobe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture on the April 27th, 2017. This lecture series brings renowned women from around the world to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to speak on contemporary issues of global significance. Shiva’s speech, which can be watched in full, headlined the 2nd Annual 4W Summit on Women, Gender, and Well-being. Shiva spans issues of human rights, militarisation, agriculture, poverty, economy and global cooperation. Highlighting that women are leading the fight for an economy of life that prioritizes community wellbeing. Photo credit: Seed Freedom
Rowen White, a Mohawk Indigenous woman leader, has built a life for herself as a farmer, educator and guardian of traditional and Indigenous seed varieties. Through her organization, Sierra Seeds, based in Northern California, Rowen is growing indigenous-centered seed education and action, including the ‘re-matriation’, or returning of varieties of seeds which had been removed from their traditional communities, back to the hands of their original stewards in Indigenous communities across North America. Photo credit: Civil Eats
According to a policy debrief on Gender, Climate Change, and Food Security within Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) published by GGCA, the challenges of climate change and food security are most obvious in the agricultural sector. Therefore, the response to climate change in the agricultural sector must be gender responsive. To that aim, engaging female rural farmers is essential for enhancing agricultural productivity and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, including ensuring food security (SDG 2) and addressing the perils of climate change (SDG 13).
Larissa Baldwin is the national co-director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, which addresses the impact of climate change on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through numerous campaigns. Baldwin asserts the need for an indigenous-led climate movement and explains how the environmental concerns of Indigenous people frequently overlap with broader issues of colonialism, systemic racism and land rights.
In February 2017, Espaço Feminista—a leading women’s grassroots organization in Brazil—hosted a forum in Bonito, Pernambuco, aimed at re-centering the conversation of sustainable development and land rights policy discussions back to a local level. Over half of forum participants were from grassroots women constituencies representing Indigenous, rural workers, farmers, urban, and landless groups. Espaço Feminista partnered with international land rights organizations Land Alliance and Landesa to organize the event. Organizers suggested in this blog post, published by Landesa, that the forum was a positive move forward in efforts to guarantee equal land rights for women. Photo Credit: Landesa
“Harvesting Hope” is a project of the organization MADRE that seeks to support Indigenous women farmers and their families. Together with their local partner, Wangki Tangni, they established a women’s rights radio station in Nicaragua. Called “Women of the Wangki”, the station reaches 115 communities throughout the north coast of Nicaragua. The broadcast includes themes such as human rights, community activities, information about the Harvesting Hope Project, and the impacts of climate change. With these kind of broadcasts, people of the region learn about better ways to prepare for higher temperatures and stronger storms. An example is Albertina, who sold her cabbage crops in a MADRE-supported farmers’ market, after she heard about it on the radio. Photo credit: MADRE
The territory of Manipur has been turbulent since British colonization of India, leaving thousands of women widows and survivors of armed violence. Manipuri women have a long history of confronting injustices, sexual violence and power, despite their vulnerable situation living in a militarised and climate change affected area with multiple losses to many small farmers. Groups such as the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and the Rural Women’s Upliftment Society fight against such vulnerability by offering counseling and support, and also by teaching Indigenous women such as Lalzamien how to use ecological and biodiverse farming methods as a way of reversing climate change. Not only that, but many Indigenous women’s groups, and activists such as Mary Beth Sanate and Shangnaidar Tontang fight for seats and female representatives in various decision-making, peacebuilding and negotiation forums. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
Alicia Lopez Guisao was a leader of the Asokinchas community in Colombia, organizing the Agrarian Summit Project, which distributed land and food for 12 Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in the department of Choco. When shopping in a grocery store in Medellín, she was shot to death by two gunmen. Since the retreat of Colombia’s FARC, other paramilitary groups have been acting to gain power in the city, and consequently the rate of attacks to human rights activists increased. In spite of all the pain, Alicia’s family might not be able to attend the burial, as they have been threatened to be the next in case they do. Photo credit: Congreso de los Pueblos
Ashlesha Khadse, a livestock researcher at the Global Forest Coalition, analyses the rotten meat scandal by JBS, Brazil's biggest beef exporter, comparing the case to other food frauds by corporations around the world. Ashlesha highlights movements that focus on sustainable food options and cites that activism to change state policies is a tool to fight the meat industry. Photo credit: Global Forest Coalition
Women workers dominate the labor force for steps of coffee production that most affect coffee quality, from picking ripe coffee cherries to sorting beans. However, due to deep-rooted gender inequalities, many women are not able to realize their full potential as workers or community members. Women are taking advantage of agronomy training around the world, participating in projects focused on gender equity in numerous coffee-growing countries. With policies in place that empower women, the future of farming is female. Photo credit: Glenna Gordon
The Indigenous people of Honduras rely on subsistence farming to feed their families, an increasingly precarious arrangement due to deforestation from large-scale agriculture and climate change. The Women’s Association of Tansin teaches women about sustainable farming, forest management, crop diversification and incorporating tree conservation into their farming. Photo credit: Avery Dennison
Female farmers in Northern Ghana constitute the majority of the labor force on small farms. They are increasingly implementing agroecological farming practices, such as reversing land degradation and restoring soil fertility, to increase yields of nutritionally valuable crops impacted by climate change. Photo credit: Trax Ghana
Nyando is an agricultural community near Lake Victoria, Kenya, where most households are both headed by women and food insecure. To combat frequent drought, women farmers like Catherine Akinyi, the chairwoman of Obinju Smart Farm Group, are employing sustainable agricultural practices and climate-smart interventions to improve their livelihoods. Now, female farmers are accessing improved crop varieties, creating greenhouses resistant to drought and flooding, raising livestock in a sustainable manner and starting small businesses. Photo credit: T.Muchaba (CCAFS)
Côte d’Ivoire is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, and female farmers like Léonie Osso Sona are responsible for growing a large portion of the yearly crop. Because women tend to invest their profits back into their home and family, the community is growing in terms of health, opportunities for education, and sustainability. Léonie is now the president of Offa Village Women’s Farmer Association, assisting women with land rights issues and bringing training to the community. Photo credit: Britta Wyss Bisang
In Louisiana, more than 18 percent of households didn’t have access to healthy food in 2015. Responding to this widespread urban food insecurity, Marianne Cufone of New Orleans created what she calls a “recirculating farm”: she grows plants in closely packed, vertically stacked sections, while fishponds provide water cycling, eliminating the need for soil. The farm is cost and energy efficient and can be recreated anywhere, expanding urban farming in an entirely new direction. Photo credit: Grist50!
After Yayi Bayam Diouf’s son passed away, she became the sole breadwinner for her family. Because fishing is traditionally an exclusively male career, she broke gender norms by becoming the first woman to fish for a living in her village in addition to farming mussels and even endangered species. She also opened a training center for other fisherwomen women to learn about entrepreneurship and natural resource management. Photo credit: UN Women Senegal
The northeast region of India is wealthy when it comes to biodiversity. Women from the area are leading the way in the preservation of their agro-biodiverse lands. Seno Tsuhah, a project team leader who encourages environmental protection and human rights, and Mary Beth Sanate, an Indigenous woman who works on matters of gender, food, livelihood and customary rights, and other incredible women are doing their part for environmental justice. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
Malnad Mela, an Indian biodiversity festival, started when Kamala, a farmer from the Malnad region, donated seeds to a seed exchange. The initiative started a community of women farmers called Vanastree, Kanada for “forest women.” A few years after that, their action grows into what became the biodiversity fair, where women exchange experiences and advice about seed conservation, biodiversity and sustainable farming. Photo credit: The Economic Times
Extreme weather linked to climate change is having a significant impact on women in countries like Zimbabwe and Lesotho. Often left as the sole breadwinner for their families after their husbands pass away or emigrate to South Africa, many women are now breeding goats, which are inherently resistant to drought. They are also growing drought-resistant small grain crops for home consumption or sale. Photo credit: Jeffrey Moyo
Small-scale farmers in Tanzania, a largely female demographic, will now face heavy penalties or long prison sentences if they practice exchanging traditional seeds without government oversight. By limiting seed exchanges, Tanzania and other African governments that may follow suit restrict the freedom of farmers to choose what they grow, and build an alternative to the industrial food system through food sovereignty. La Via Campesina and their allies, defenders of women and small-scale farmers, are determined to respond strongly. Photo credit: La Via Campesina
Maleloko Fokotsale is the chief of her small village, a title not held by many women in Lesotho. She is also one of many women who bear the double burden of domestic chores and full-time farm work during a years-long drought in the area. Maleloko tends to a sustainable “keyhole” garden on her land, which requires up to 70% less water to produce vegetables than traditional gardens, saving women like Maleloko from walking miles each day to collect water. Photo credit: Ryan Lenora Brown
The Asociación Femenina para el Desarrollo de Sacatepéquez/Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez (AFEDES) coordinates a range of diverse projects aimed at the physical, economic and political autonomy of Indigenous women and their families. They promote food sovereignty, political education, and building human capacities, including training in Indigenous weaving as part of Indigenous traditional knowledge. In this framework, AFEDES is demanding that the Guatemalan government recognize their right to protect the collective ancestral intellectual property on Mayan weaving designs and clothing. Photo credit: Thousand Currents
Eta Tuvuki is a community leader and member of Soqosoqo Vakamarama, Buretu Women’s Club and femLINKpacific’s rural network of women leaders since 2012, in Rakiraki, Fiji. She speaks out about the lack of access to clean water since Tropical Cyclone Winston hit her country one year ago, and how this impacts the community's food security as well. Droughts, heavy rains and floodings are weather patterns that deeply affect the water and result in further issues for food sovereignty in her area. Access, ownership and tenure of land are another big problem, especially for women, the main providers of food for their families. Tuvuki shares the hardships she and others in her community face now; she calls for government action and women’s presence and input in much-needed solutions. Photo credit: femLINKpacific
Women make up 45% of the agricultural workforce worldwide, and up to 60% in Asia and Africa. However, they own only 20% of the land and work 12 hours a week more than men in developing nations, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Almost 60% of chronically hungry people are young girls and women. Given the statistics, the lack of access to land, credit and other gender gap issues are urgently pressing. Solutions to these problems will not only improve agricultural productivity in a sustainable way and fight hunger, but will also improve women’s financial independence and quality of life, explains Neven Mimica, EU commissioner for international co-operation and development.
A historic Guatemalan Supreme Court decision acknowledged that abuse committed against women was triggered by the community’s attempt to register the land they depend on for their livelihood and identity. However, this appears to be a global issue, as research shows that having land with documented rights makes a bigger difference than employment or education in reducing domestic violence. Researchers have also found that female ownership of property increases a woman’s economic security, deters spousal violence, enhances legal rights and access to justice, and decreases rates of child marriage. Photo credit: Maria Fleischmann/World Bank
Natalie Flores and Sarah Klein started a garden in an occupied lot that was unused and grew it into a community garden with collaboration from neighbors to start Sunshine Partnerships. They continued and expanded their gardening into other neighborhoods across Los Angeleas, California, inviting the community in, and occupying places and hosting parties that tap into an existing network of urban gardeners. Sunshine Partnerships also collaborates with Transition Mar Vista, a grassroots community groups that has a project called Good Karma Gardens, to foster a network of people helping neighbors to build gardens in their homes. Julie, co-founder of The Learning Garden at Venice High School, is an example of someone positively affected by this project, turning her front yard into a vegetable garden. Photo credit: Ted Soqui
The Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) commemorated the 2016 International Women’s Day (20th October) by organizing a public forum under the theme “Rural women in the front line in defense of climate change through nature conservation and development,” which was attended by approximately 350 women from the eleven chiefdoms of the Inkhundla. Representatives from the Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ministry as well as the Agriculture Ministry were invited to share knowledge regarding the country’s climate policies and agriculture’s potential to alleviate poverty. The women in turn raised concerns over the devastating impacts of industrial systems of agriculture as well as GMOs, the urgency of protecting seed sovereignty from corporate power and the need to tackle climate change. Finally, the women made the connection between the intimate violence they face and the greater economic and political violence they experience in public and at work, urging the state to quickly pass the domestic violence bill. Photo credit: Rural Women’s Assembly
Melanie Kirby operates the Zia Queen Bee Farming and Field Institution along New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley. She is a queen breeder and producer, raising bees to be naturally hardy, which helps fight the honey bee species’ decline due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Photo credit: Jamey Stillings
East Boston, Massachusetts’ Community Soup Kitchen’s, Alleman Nijjar, along with head of Boston Office of Housing Stability, Lydia Edwards, have established a community soup kitchen to address issues of hunger, obesity, and diseases such as heart attack and diabetes, among the homeless and economically vulnerable people of the city. Monica Leitner-Laserna, a member of the soup kitchen and its menu-planning committee, also owns her own cafe which followed the principles of worker-owned co-operative restaurant. Both Alleman Nijjar and Monica Leitner-Laserna hope to continue their work bringing all East Boston citizens together at one table for a plate of good nutritious meal. Photo credit: Casey Walker
As women shoulder the burden of harmful effects of climate change, female farmers in India are learning climate-smart agricultural practices. Two organizations are collaborating to develop a project to promote the adoption of climate-smart practices among female smallholder farmers and assist them in keeping records to manage their farms with more efficiency. On behalf of the female farmers, the organizations are advocating for policy-makers to address recommendations based on conservative agriculture. Photo credit: V. Shwanatha
Women of the Naso Indigenous Community are facing challenges to their traditional way of life: unemployment, limited access to healthcare, and unpredictable agricultural seasons perpetuate high rates of poverty and malnutrition. A United Nations-backed workshop in Panama City invited local Indigenous women to build skills in food security, leadership, and climate change adaptation. Photo credit: FAO SLM Panama
The Kanyeleng women of Senegal and the Gambia are using song and dance to communicate urgent information about climate change adaptation. Their songs educate listeners about how to prepare for natural disasters and spread information about drought-resistant farming methods, composting and seed storage. Photo credit: Jane Hahn/ActionAid
In some of the most hostile and secluded rural areas of Scotland, women are connecting to the land and acting as protectors of the environment. After returning to her native Scotland, photographer Sophie Gerrard was inspired by the intimate relationships local women have with the land. In her project, Gerrard shares stories of women who have different stories and backgrounds, but all protect their landscape with a sense of custodianship given the threats of climate change. Photo credit: Sophie Gerrard
Women farmers in Mali are seeing their crops suffer from drought linked to climate change. In response, Fatoumata Diarra, a member of the women’s cooperative in the village of Massantola, explains how women in her community are using water-efficient agroecological practices to produce vegetables for consumption and sale. Part of the profits are reinvested into the maintenance of both a solar-powered well and mill that grinds grain into flour, freeing women's time for other endeavors. Photo credit: Imen Meliane/UNDP Climate Adaptation Mali
In 2013, internationally renowned Santa Clara Pueblo sculptor Roxanne Swentzell joined the Pueblo Food Experience project, when 14 volunteers of Pueblo descent agreed to eat, for three months, only the foods available to their ancestors before the first Native contact with the Spanish in 1540. Swentzell took that locavore goal one step further, stating that humans are not only what and where we eat, but are also what and where our ancestors ate. Photo credit: NMHM/DCA