The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a wave of backyard food planting and production. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their local and regional food systems, and are taking initiative to support local food sovereignty projects. Doria Robinson of the urban farming project, Urban Tilth, describes the importance of CSAs in this time. Debbie Harris of Urban Adamah in Berkeley, California, points out the vital sense community urban farms create and nurture throughout times of hardship. Food sovereignty activists hope the push for local and equitable food systems continue after the end of the global pandemic. Photo Credit: Wendy Becktold
In a recent screening of the documentary “Gather,” a film recounting Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives, members of the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes described their own local food sovereignty struggles. Hosted by Rhode Island’s first food gleaning project, Hope Harvest Rhode Island, the event featured Narragansett-Niantic speaker Lorèn Spears, the executive director of the Tomaquag Museum. Alongside other tribal members, Spears emphasized the radical power of food sovereignty initiatives to resist oppression by the dominant society through the reclamation of intergenerational Indigenous knowledge. Photo Credit: Gather
On the Philippine island of Palawan, traditionally, fishing has been the means of support for most inhabitants. Over the last twenty years, because of climate change and a variety of other factors, fish are no longer as abundant as they once were. Local women, who were previously largely homemakers, have responded to this difficult situation by taking up seaweed farming. The revenue offered by this endeavor has been a welcome addition to household incomes. But climate change is also already affecting the viability of seaweed farms. The women farmers are rising to the challenge by improving seaweed harvesting and drying methods, using better tools and developing early warning systems for typhoons. Photo credit: Mongabay
In Brooklyn, New York, Michelle Cashen and Anastasia Cole Plakias manage and lead Brooklyn Grange, the world’s largest rooftop urban farm. Eleven stories above the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the farm produces greens, fruits, and other edible plants. Cashen and Plakias describe their commitment to urban farming and providing fresh food without using pesticides and herbicides. Photo Credit: Local Roots NYC
Women Environmental Defenders Condemn Systemic Abuses Before The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
This Earth Rights International (ERI) media release summarises the submission of a delegation of women environmental defenders from the Americas who testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The delegation condemned widespread and unjust criminalisation and repression against defenders of rights of land, territories, and environmental protection. The testimonies presented in this thematic hearing, which denounced instances of exceptional cases of attacks against environmental defenders, was led by Columbian human rights lawyer Julian Bravo Valencia, ERI’s Amazon Program Coordinator. Several women testified, including two women from Acción Ecológica, Esperanza Martinez Yanez and Ivonne Ramos, whose experiences highlight the sexism disproportionately affecting women defenders in the Americas. At a time when the interests of corporations and their impunity in committing rights violations is rife, the hearing aimed to produce a report which presents extreme examples of human rights abuses in Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil and the United States. Photo Credit: Earth Rights International
In Santa Barbara, California, the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network invited local environmental advocates to present a webinar on food sovereignty and food justice. The panel included Santa Barbara City Council faculty member Daniel Parra Hensel, environmental director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Teresa Romero, executive director of Lideres Campesinas Suguet Lopez, Community Environmental Councilmember Alhan Diaz-Correa, former farmworker Andrea Cabrea Hubbard, and Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, a senior organizer for Food and Water Watch. A majority female panel, the panelists discussed women’s roles in food justice initiatives and local agriculture movements. They expressed gratitude for grassroots efforts and their hope to create institutional change through community organizing. Photo Credit: Courtesy Photos
Based in Missoula, Montana, Indigenous ethnobotanist and Salish scientist Rose Bear Don’t Walk describes her personal relationship to Thanksgiving, while imploring readers to bring food sovereignty values to their own plates. She reclaims the settler-colonial notion of Thanksgiving by using the holiday to give thanks, spend time with family, and support her local farms— further forging a connection between herself, her family, and the land around them. Photo Credit: Missoula Current
When she is not teaching middle school science and math classes, Rebecca Newburn tends to her expansive home garden in which she grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other plants. The co-founder of the “Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library,” Newburn understands the importance of saving and sharing seed among her close knit community of female gardeners in Richmond, California. She emphasises the stories plant varieties tell and the historical and cultural significance of seeds. Video Capture Credit: Edible East Bay
Jilian Hishaw’s organisation, Family Agriculture and Resource Management Services (FARMS) is advocating for black farmer rights not only for today, but also for future generations. With only 2% of the country’s farm population consisting of black farmers, the services this organisation provides aids vulnerable farmers who often face discrimination by the USDA and who lose land at a rate of 30,000 acres per year. These services are available for all farmers from historically disadvantaged group in South Eastern states in the United States and their legal and technical assistance, including grant application help, fundraisers, agricultural law and foreclosure help, aid in retaining ownership of their land. Furthermore, the FARMS to Food Bank program aims to support farmers in selling surplus produce and meat at a reduced price to the food banks in their communities, thus also contributing to food insecurity solutions in these areas. Photo credit: Jilian Hishaw
In an effort to push back against large agriculture corporations and establish seed sovereignty among local communities, renowned scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva and farmer Bija Devi collect seeds and run education programs at the Navdanya Biodiversity Farm in Uttarakhand, India. Bija has collected over 1500 varieties of seeds and details her seed collecting methods and practices throughout the video. Dr. Shiva argues that as the keepers of life, women need to be collecting seeds and leading the fight for food sovereignty. In critiquing capitalist corporations she explains there are only two options for the future: a woman-led “living” future or a corporation-led “toxic” future. Photo Credit: Seed Freedom
Amid pandemic economic impact, many Latin American Indigenous immigrants have no choice but to do farm work in hazardous conditions during wildfires, increasing their vulnerability to COVID-19 due to their exposure to smoke. Movimiento Cultural de la Unión Indígena, an Indigenous workers’ group, is pushing for appropriate working regulations, in addition to providing economic and social assistance, especially to the undocumented suspicious of federal support. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
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
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the United States’ economy, issues of food security have been magnified. Consequently, the importance of local gardens have been emphasized. From Victory Gardens during the first and second world war, to the emergence of urban vegetable gardens throughout US cities in the 1970s and 1980s, the United States has a rich history of local gardening initiatives. The pandemic has forced Americans to re-evaluate the many way local gardens benefit a community. In Richmond, California, Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth provides 227 families with weekly CSA vegetable shares. Serving low-income residents in a city with only one grocery store per 100,000 residents, Robinson’s work at Urban Tilth makes a great difference in the local community, especially in light of COVID-19. Photo Credit: Karen Washington
The four climate justice advocates Maya Menezes, Nayeli Jimenez, Niria Alicia and Thanu Yakupitiyage share their perspectives on the strong connections between the climate crisis and issues of migration and asylum. Drawing from different examples and experiences, they make a strong case to address the climate crisis in the broader framework of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles and to stand in solidarity with movements to protect the rights of indigenous people, migrants and asylum seekers. Photo Credits: Getty Images
Sana Javeri Kadri, a queer immigrant woman of colour, is challenging colonial trade practices with her Oakland-based company, Diaspora Co. Her company aims to support sustainable agricultural practices within the turmeric industry, provide fair compensation to Indian farmers (above ten times the market price), and empower marginalized communities. Diaspora Co. sources their turmeric from Kasaraneni Prabhu, a fourth-generation turmeric farmer working in Southeast India who uses traditional pest control methods involving companion crops. Javeri Kadri also hires queer, especially those of colour, whenever possible aiming to be radically inclusive in order to counter the social injustices and inequities prevalent in the food industry. Photo credit: Elazar Sontag
Africans and women will be some of the main groups hit the hardest by climate change, and it is becoming increasingly more important to protect women’s land in Nigeria to help mitigate these effects. Women are responsible for 70% to 80% of all agricultural labor in Nigeria, but only 10 percent of land owners in Nigeria are women. This is partly due to the customary laws and property ownership, which makes it extremely hard for women to inherit land. With decreasing amounts of arable land coupled with continued population growth in Nigeria, 70% of Africans who rely on the land are at risk as climate change worsens. Those affected the most in are the women who perform the majority of agricultural labor and have more intimate relationships with the land. Empowering women to own the land where they work will improve Nigerian communities’ climate resiliency, creating a more sustainable relationship between humans and the environment. Photo credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Shantel Walker is a manager within the fast food industry and an organizer for proper living wages in NYC. After working over two decades at Papa John’s Pizza where Walker was paid a minimum wage of $7.50, Walker started working with organizations such as the Fight for $15, and Fast Food Forward campaigns to champion the 3.7 million Americans working in Fast Food. Walkers advocacy also addresses the disparities in healthcare coverage, workplace and scheduling policies. Photo Credit: Alex Swerdloff
The Palestinian Heirloom Library, in its efforts supporting a Palestinian agricultural scene, stands not only as an act of resistance to Israeli occupation but as a source of cultural tradition and hope in amongst climate change impacts and agribusiness take-over’s. The brainchild of Vivien Sansour, the Heirloom Library was inspired into creation by stories of the succulent watermelon Jadu’I that used to flourish in Jenin. The melon, once a significant cornerstone in the daily lives of Palestinians, suffered (as did much of Palestinian agriculture) after the Israeli occupation. The goal of the Library aims to preserve ancient seed types as well as traditional agricultural practices and revive the heirloom varieties in the fields of the farmers. The Art and Seeds space showcases indigenous seeds and serves to teach the public about long-standing Palestinian farming practices. Photo credit: Vivien Sansour.
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
Despite once providing bustling profits for fishing families, Lake Malawi — one of Africa’s largest lakes — suffers from overfishing and women in Malawi are feeling the brunt of this. The fishing industry employs close to 300,000 Malawi workers and fishers, but fish are no longer being found in abundance. Stiff competition from fishermen is drastically depleting fish levels. The fish that are now being found are smaller and priced higher, reducing the profitability of a market that used to flourish in the past. Women who used to buy fish cheaply and trade it for more, are then forced to buy from fishermen, who have also been pushed out of business, at increased prices. Moreover, they are no longer able to provide local fish as a cheap protein to their families because overfishing has left women under tight restraint. Thankfully successful community efforts have been rallied around creating bylaws that would close down the lake for a temporary amount of time to promote lake health. And it appears these laws put in place were working — a man was hit with a hefty fine for fishing on the lake when it was close. Photo credit: Mabvuto Banda
Aminata Bamba and Traore Awa are two women leading the charge on gender equality in the cocoa industry in Western Africa. Both with senior positions in their cocoa cooperatives, Ecookim and CAYAT cocoa cooperative respectively, and having returned from a Fairtrade Conference, they defy the traditional gender roles prevalent in their country and help lift the taboo on women leadership. In a community where unpaid labour often mean that women working throughout the production chain are often not recognised and gender expectations result in a male-dominated industry, the Fairtrade Women’s School of Leadership is working to empower women to take the lead and has trained 413 women in Awa’s community. Their program provides guidance and business support and last year’s conference tackled the future of trade and systemic issues in supply chains. Photo credit: Tony Myers.
Santona Rani, President of the Rajpur Women’s Federation, is working to increase climate and community resilience in her flood-prone area of Tajpur, Lalmonirhat in northern Bangladesh. Climate change is increasing the detrimental effects on crops and productivity. Her organisation is made up of twenty groups that work to assist 500 vulnerable and marginalized women. It works alongside ActionAid’s Promoting Opportunities for Women Empowerment and Rights (POWER) to boost independence through sustainable agriculture that fosters climate resilience. They also work to address the unjust gender roles that exist within the society; aiming to increase income and recognise the amount of work women do, provide training around leadership, women’s rights, financial aspects, sustainable farming and communication skills, as well as endeavour to prevent violence against women. Their work is community based, and involves interactive theatre shows, informative leaflets, and a seed bank and grain store that protects against the damages of flooding or natural disasters. Photo credit: ActionAid.
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
From female farmers to female restaurant workers, women are consistently subject to sexual harassment at every level of the US Food System. Mostly depending on immigrant labor, the US Food System workforce is the lowest-paid and most exploited workforce in the country. The workers have little legal protections that are rarely enforced. For women, especially immigrant women, this means that sexual harrasment and unequal treatment on the basis of sex prevail. In recent years, initiatives such as the #MeToo movement, the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and the Fair Food Movement, support and encourage women to fight against the patriarchal oppression they face. Photo Credit: Donald Lee Pardue
Hamari Roti, Hamari Aazadi Our Bread, Our Freedom: Diverse Women Of The World Resolve To Defend Biological And Cultural Diversity, Through Non-violence, Love And Friendship
Women in India have re-initiated a movement called ‘Our Bread, Our Freedom’ (Hamari Roti, Hamari Azaadi), in efforts to counter the corporate food system driven by new East India Companies which has led to an epidemic of farmer suicides and varying health issues. Diverse Women for Diversity aim to reveal the pseudo food safety regulations and fake knowledge surrounding nutritionally empty and toxic food. The movement builds alternatives to the monoculture of chemical farming and through bread, reclaim not only their freedom but also their historical and cultural knowledge in producing diverse foods. In Doon Valley on the 2nd of October 2018 women gathered from 25 regions in India to cook breads typical to their state, including roti from Uttarakhand, Sathuu from Bihar and rice flour chila from Chhatisgarh. They pledge to rejuvenate their local cultures, cleanse from within as well as keep clean their external environment, spread food and nutrition literacy, and build sustainable food economies grounded in social justice, non-violence, and love. Photo Credit: Unknown
Olympia Auset is the founder of SÜPERMARKT, a low cost, organic pop-up grocery store which is addressing food inequality in southern Los Angeles. Auset sees food as a tool for liberation and seeks to free her own community from identifying as a food desert where people statistically live 10 years less than wealthier white communities. This reality steams from a history of white flight after slavery became illegal. Auset’s SUPERMARKT is changing the local narrative and has plans to expand given her success and demand. Her model is also being replicated in food deserts across the country. Photo Credit: Sara Harrison
Isela Gonzalez, director of Alianza Sierra Madre, uses civic activism to fight for political change as a way to confront the vested economic interests of not only big corporations, but also narco-gangs and corrupt politicians, that violate indigenous land rights. In a country that is painted in violence, with assassinations as an answer to those who have a different vision than governmental or corporate agendas, standing up for environmental and social causes come with serious risks. Often facing threats to her life, which has resulted in armed guards, panic buttons and crisis training, Gonzalez is staunch in her battle to defend the Tarahumara’s rights. The three tribes who live among the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre have a worldview that sees themselves as part of the land and it was this, as well as their way of life, that inspired her to refocus the direction of Alianza Sierra Madre on indigenous rights as the frontline for environmental protection. Photo credit: Thom Pierce for The Guardian.
Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank, and Emily Payne, a food and agriculture writer, call for critically examining the traditional power structures in the food system and advocate the key role women play in creating a more sustainable, equitable, and economically viable agricultural scene. Given that female farmers make up almost half of the agricultural labour force worldwide, and in some countries up to 80%, they are responsible for important tasks such as seed saving and crop tending. If they were ensured equal access to resources that men have, they could help increase yields by up to 30% and thus, they are a fundamental part of ensuring global food security. Success stories linked to women’s efforts in agriculture involve workshops on climate-adaptive irrigation strategies in Jamaica to Women in Agricultural program in Nigeria that connects female farmers to vital services. Photo credit: Naimul Haq and Inter Press Service.
In Madera, California, Sylvia Rojas and Rosa Hernandez own Colectivo Sabor a Mi Tierra, a restaurant that offers traditional Oaxacan dishes such as tamales, picaditas, pozole, and mole. Many of these dishes have indigenous roots and reflect the migration from indigenous Mexican communities to the United States. Formerly farmworkers, Hernandez and Rojas opened up the restaurant with support from organizations such as the Pan Valley Institute, a group that focuses on uplifting women and building inter-ethnic relationships amongst rural Californian farming communities in the Central Valley. Photo Credit: Lisa Morehouse
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
A group of US and Cambodian Scholars from Pennsylvania State University have created the multidisciplinary project, “Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN): Cambodia” to teach Cambodian women farmers how to change their farming techniques for more beneficial outcomes. The project places particular value on native Cambodian plants that thrive throughout the year, even during wet- and dry-season food gaps. WAgN also analyses Cambodian women’s roles in agriculture, and the notion that the “feminization” of agriculture does not coincide with an improved quality of life for Cambodian women. Researchers at WAgN believe that their project has the potential to augment the societal status of Combodian women and improve their quality of life. Photo Credit: Penn State
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.
Jaylyn Gough, a Diné outdoors woman, is addressing and changing colonial narratives of the outdoor industry. In 2017, Gough launched Native Women’s Wilderness. What began as a platform for Native girls and women to share photos of their outdoor experience has since morphed into a movement. One of Native Women’s Wilderness’ key initiatives is growing awareness around whose land is being explored and addressing the exclusivity and white centric culture of the outdoor industry. One idea is a symbolic reclaiming of the ancestral Paiute trade route, today known as the 210-mile John Muir Trail. Gough is optimistic that the shift towards reconciliation of the genocidal history of the United States can begin with the outdoor industry. Photo credit: Jayme Moye
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
Seaweed farming in Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, is largely done by local women farmers. Most of the men find the work too hard for the small pay, but the income remains significant to women. As a result of their engagement in industry, women farmers and their family have significantly benefited. However, the Western Indian Ocean’s temperature is rising, which is leading to loss of the seaweed crop. The women farmers are responding to this adversity in various ways. One solution has been to farm farther in the ocean. This solution requires the participation of at least some strong swimmers, but seeing as most women in Zanzibar do not know how to swim, many of the farmers are having to learn to swim as they go. Another solution the farmers have enacted is cooperating with local and international researchers. The hope is that fostering this dialogue will benefit both parties and that the seaweed industry will remain viable. Photo credit: Karen Coates
Daughters of field workers are participating in a five day “Freedom Fast”, and joining the Time’s Up Wendy’s March in Manhattan. Their demonstration calls upon Wendy’s to sign onto the Fair Food Program which addresses many of the structural issues enabling sexual harassment in the workplace. The demonstration is taking place alongside the Time’s Up and #MeToo movement which has drawn global attention to the treatment of all women in the workforce. Women working in agriculture are strong voice in this movement as they report especially high rates of sexual assault in the workplace. So far the women’s efforts to suede Wendy’s have been unsuccessful. Photo Credit: Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)
Francesca Chaney is working to alleviate food insecurity and make the wellness movement accessible in her neighbourhood of Bushwick, New York. A dream since she was 19 years old, the café, Sol Sips, started as a pop-up shop and evolved into a permanent fixture in the community. With a popular brunch menu and sliding scale prices, a diverse range of community members visit the spot ranging from indigenous, Latinx, and people of colour to old-timers and families. She serves a community that has largely been left aside by the mainstream health and wellness movement and Sol Sips remains a contrast to the majority of vegan and plant-based restaurants. Chaney wants to counter the trend that to eat healthy is a privilege only for those who can afford it. This socially conscious space that pays mind to the demographic of the neighbourhood is one of a range of businesses fighting to make vegan and healthy food accessible. Photo credit: Sol Sips
Before 1989, Cuba depended on the Soviet Union for agricultural supplies to help maintain Cuban agriculture industries such as coffee, bananas, and sugar. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Cuba found itself cut off from these agricultural supplies and in an economic crisis. Over the course of the next six years, the Cuban government encouraged alternative agricultural practices and ran workshops to teach residents various forms of food production methods. Former biology teacher Edith participated in one of these workshops. Afterwards, she founded the urban farm Linda Flor ten minutes away from Sancti Spíritus’ main square. Thanks to Edith’s scientific knowledge, perseverance, and passion for agriculture, Linda Flor flourished despite the small urban space. Now, students from around the world flock to Sancti Spíritus to tour Edith’s farm. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
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
A group of women bakers in Los Angeles, California were selected to speak at the panel, “Bread Winners: A Conversation with Women in Bread,” organized by the California Grain Campaign in honor of Women’s History Month. The group of women assembled included baker Kate Pepper, California Grain Campaign Organizer Mai Nguyen, miller Nan Kohler, and baker Roxana Jullapat. The panel focused on the women’s involvement in the California Grain Campaign’s goal to push bakers to use 20 percent whole-grain, California grown-and-milled flours. During the panel Nguyen brought up the historical importance of women in agriculture, specifically in terms of seed conservation. Nguyen also expressed gratitude to cotton breeder Sally Fox, and chemist Monica Spiller, whose seed projects made Sonora Wheat a more familiar food amongst consumers. Photo Credit: Civil Eats
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.
Salt Point Seaweed is an all-female Bay Area company that is leading the way for global food insecurity solutions. Tessa Emmer, Catherine O’Hare and Avery Resor are harvesting wild seaweed from an open-water farm off the coast of Mendocino County. Having drawn inspiration from East African communities, particularly female aqua-farming in Zanzibar, this company hopes to popularize local varieties of seaweed (such as Gracilaria) in Northern California’s avant-garde, health-centered culinary scene. Seaweed’s ability to de-acidify waters coupled with virtually zero inputs required for growth, it’s numerous health benefits and budding potential to substitute for fossil fuels, as well as massive potential in contributing to increasing the world’s food supply mean that it is a global solution in the fight against climate change, ocean acidification, and unsustainable food systems. Photo credit: Salt Point Seaweed.
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.
Bolivian women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and suffers from one of the worst patterns of gender inequality. Women in indigenous farmer communities are one of the hardest hit from climate change as agricultural production is put under peril leading to lower food security and higher food prices. As food supply becomes volatile, women, who are responsible for the provision of food to their family, are challenged to prepare enough nutritious food. Furthermore, men are pushed to migrate to find work in rural areas or coca plantations leaving women behind to raise children. The government and NGOs, such as INCCA, have been taking initiative in empowering women and teaching communities how to mitigate the effects of climate change. These initiatives started ten years ago with NGOs such as INCCA and Solidagro who implement conservation and food security programs. Photo Credit: Sanne Derks/Al Jazeera
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.
Women are disproportionately more susceptible to the impacts of climate change due to the hindrances caused by gender inequality that they must also face. The report written by UN Women on “Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, draws attention to the need to place gender equality front and centre throughout the implementation of the SDGs Agenda. The report highlights that, globally, more than one quarter of women work in agriculture. As the impacts of climate change on agriculture are already being severely felt, this is one of the areas that needs urgent action. Women face many restraints in accessing land, agricultural inputs and credit which increase their vulnerability reducing their resilience against climate change. However, women are an important representation of strength for combating climate change, they are not just victims. The report emphasizes that diverse women must be present in decision-making environments to ensure inclusive mitigation and adaptation to climate change at local, national and international levels. The UNFCCC has been increasingly recognizing the importance of equal gender representation in the development of gender responsive climate policies. In fact, the Gender Action Plan (GAP) was adopted at the COP23 to guide this goal.
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
Nebeday is an association for environmental protection that supports Senegalese women from rural areas to obtain new forms of income outside of the traditional harvesting period through the cultivation and transformation of the moringa plant. The plant adapts to very arid environments and has a positive environmental impact, while also being nutritionally rich. The project also raises awareness of the need for sustainable resource management and the positive impact women can have on the development of the local economy. Photo credit: Video Capture
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
In May 2017, the Burkinabe agricultural organization, ‘We are the solution! Celebrate African family farming’ held a farming workshop for female Burkinabe farmers. The workshop focused on agro-ecological food production methods and aimed to train women how to adapt their farming techniques to climate change. The movement’s coordinator Sibiri Dao, has since expanded the movement to include countries such as Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. Through this movement, Dao hopes to use women to empower local communities to practice food sovereignty and engage in more sustainable methods of agriculture. Photo Credit: L’Économiste du Faso
During a visit to Brandon, Vermont, Jackee Alston stumbled upon the town’s seed library. An avid gardener, the Brandon Seed Library inspired Alston to create her own seed library in Flagstaff, Arizona. She calls it The Grow Flagstaff Seed Library. Alston describes the difficulties of gardening in Flagstaff’s high elevation and explains that saving local seeds adapted to the climate makes it easier for residents to garden. Alston also emphasises the social aspect of the seed library by discussing the stories that seeds can tell and the deep land-based historical narratives that accompany seeds. Photo Credit: SeedBroadcast
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
In partnership with the the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), the global feminist organization MADRE facilitated an exchange of farming knowledge between two indigeous Kenyan women, Hellen and Sylvia. Hellen is a mother of five living in Chepareria, Kenya. She is a member of the Pokot Indigenous People and sells crops from her one acre farm. Sylvia, a Maasai woman, lives 250 miles away in Ololulunga, Kenya. With her maize crops dying due to drought, Sylvia was struggling to support herself and her family. At a MADRE event, the two women met each other, and Helena showed Sylvia her small poultry farm. Inspired by Helena’s poultry farm, Sylvia started her own. She now sells chicken eggs at the local market and finds it easier to support her family. Photo Credit:madre.org
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