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
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
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
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
Unpaid domestic work is a burden on Indian women who are leaving formal work spaces to fulfill household duties. This unpaid labor, and women’s interests in general, are often left out of policy discussions, notes Ritu Dewan, Indian feminist economist. Jayati Ghosh, another economist, notes that women perform much more domestic work than men, leading to what is called time poverty. Action Aid, an international non-profit organization in Ghana, models and quantifies unpaid work, defining four main areas: unpaid care work, climate resistant sustainable agriculture, access to markets and violence against women. Time use surveys have led to legislation changes that can better distribute household duties. In Uruguay, for example, the state is responsible for providing care, freeing up more paid and leisure time for women. Photo Credit: Vikas Choudhary
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
Raksha Bandhan, a hindu festival celebrating the bond between brother and sister has inspired women in Muturkham, Jharkhand to protect their forests. In 1998, when Jamuna Tudu, also known as ‘Lady Tarzan’, noticed large areas of clearcut forest she began to speak out. She managed to organize Van Suraksha Samiti, a band of 25 women fortified with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears to tackle the enemies of their forest. After driving out the mafia cutting down their forests, the women began tying the ‘knot of protection’, around the trees. Stemming from the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, the knot symbolizes the love between brothers and sisters, where a sister ties a rakhi (holy thread) on the wrist of her brother to ward off evil and in turn, he vows to protect her until death. The rakhi around the trees symbolizes that these women will protect their trees until death. Photo Credit: YouTube
In October 2017, women of Kaptapally, Nayagarh district, Odisha opened a Forest Rights Information centre to spread awareness about the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The centre will support traditional forest dwellers and aid in the process of granting Community Forest Rights (CFR) in the district. Usharani, president of the committee, explains that the centre promotes self-sufficiency, substance economies, self-rule and local governance. Women in this area have a long history of protecting forests and a similar centre has opened in Dengajhari village of the Ranpur block, where women have fought to conserve their forests for 40 years. Photo credit: Forest Rights Information centre, Kaptapally
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
In this short excerpt from, ‘The Seeds of Vandana Shiva’, a documentary produced by Becket Films about Shiva’s remarkable journey, we see a glimpse into Shiva’s introduction into environmental activism. Her journey begins as a young Himalayan woman with a strong desire to spread the word about the Chipko Movement, a forest conservation movement where Indian women clung on to trees to protect them from being cut. This is one of the first ever recorded efforts by women to protect trees; thus demonstrating the long history of women as forest protectors. The full film is set to release soon. Photo Credit: Becket Films
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
Koriya District situated in North West corner of Chhattisgarh, India is a historically densely forested area where the Indigenous population has always depended on the forest ecosystems to earn their livelihoods. Over the past decade, the natural forests have been replaced with teak plantations, and in response, AAS, an organization of local Indigenous women, has taken action to challenge the state to revoke policies of transforming natural forest into commercially cultivated forests, and to try and secure forest rights and justice for the Indigenous communities of the region. Photo Credit: Oxfam
In a keynote address to commemorate International Women’s Day, journalist Monalisa Changkija explored how the environment becomes feminised in discourses of the environment. She outlined the stemming gender disparities between men and women’s obligation to the environment and how Indigenous women are the most at risk. She refers to the increasing difficulty of seed sovereignty, and the unpredictability of climate change and its impacts upon women farmers and agriculture in Northeastern and Himalayan states. She proceeds to comment on how systemic imbalance sidelines Indigenous women from important discussions in government issues.
When the state government of Uttarakhand proposed construction of the Desvari dam, a 252-megawatt hydropower project on the Pinder River, residents of Chepdu village were worried: blasting through rock in an already flood-prone seismic zone would put the lives and livelihoods of 20,000 people at risk. While some men in the community obtained contract work from the construction company, making them partisan to the project, women like Bilma Joshi stood strong, organizing their community to demand their statutory rights and oppose a project that would all but destroy the Pinder River. Photo Credit: Matu Jan Sanghathan
Sunita Narain, an environmental activist and Director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India shares powerful analysis on the responsibility that wealthy countries have to take action to address their liability for global climate impacts, which is unjustly impacting citizens of ‘developing’ and low-income nations. She calls for climate justice, and for the Indian government to grow the country in a manner that relies on sustainability and equity, instead of copying western development mechanisms that bring harm. Photo credit: Centre for Science and Environment
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
The Women's Earth Alliance launched a project called the Seeds of Resilience Project in March 2017, with the partnership of Vanastree, a woman farmers’ seed saving collective in India. As part of the project, photography training with community members took place, with the purpose of storytelling, called Lands and Lens. In this preview can be found the work of nine women from rural India who were training through this initiative. Photo credit: Women's Earth Alliance
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
Women from all over India marched and protested together in Hyderabad, in opposition to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This partnership is based on destructive model of development which violates the rights of farmers, dalits, land rights, Indigenous women, minorities, fisherwomen, labour rights and more. Burnad Fatima, member of Federation of Women Farmers Rights, Tamil Nadu describes how this mega free trade agreement will affect the women through impacts on land rights, migration and trafficking. Similarly, Albertina Almeida and Kate Lappin from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development express deep concerns about the trade agreement.
The Ambar Mosque, a women-led faith center recognized for the promotion of women’s rights, recently installed solar panels in hopes of inspiring the adoption of renewable technology across the state of Uttar Pradesh. The spread of solar technology is making the cost of solar energy more competitive when compared to coal, thanks to the pioneering women at the Ambar Mosque. Photo credit: Climate Home
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
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
Farah Naz is one of five Afghan refugee women who is not only battling traditional gender roles by working, but also becoming an unlikely fighter against plastic waste pollution in New Delhi, India. Through Project Patradya, a business initiative, she is employed to produce and supply edible bowls, cups and cutlery for cafes, restaurants and parlors as an alternative to non-biodegradable plastics utensils. The idea is to also have training in sales and marketing, empowering women to run their own recycling business within three years.
India’s Largest Collection Of Rural Folk Music Contains Over 10,000 Songs That Women Sing While Grinding Grain
Before sunrise in Pune, India, women in the group Garīb Dhongarī Sangatnā, or “Collective of the Poor of the Mountain,” can be found singing at the grain mills, where they work grinding grain into flour. For these women, singing while simultaneously producing a staple Indian food empowers the collective feminine voice. Lyrics deal with subjects of cast, religion, political movements and mythology as an act of female resistance to the impoverishment that India’s rural communities face. The Grindmill Songs Project (part of PARI-- People’s Archives of Rural India) is collecting and translating these songs, and has already published over 10,000 of them on their website so the world can listen these Pune female movement voices sing. Photo credit: PARI (People’s Archives of Rural India)
Climate change-induced heatwaves are increasing across India, endangering millions of lives and livelihoods. In response, groups such as the Mahila Housing Trust, are working with women in 100 slums across five cities to experiment with low-cost approaches to cooling homes using reflective paint and other simple methods to reduce the direct impacts being felt by marginalized and impoverished residents. Photo Credit: Mahila Housing Trust, Pixabay
In Gujarat, India, women typically set aside 40% of their household income to buy diesel to power salt-producing pumps. A program designed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and India’s Self Employed Women’s Association has improved access to solar-powered pumps. The new technology has proven to be less expensive and more accessible and, as a result, many women and their families now have a more reliable source of income. Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
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
The Kuttemperoor River in South Kerala’s Alappuzha district, formerly a vibrant and healthy ecosystem, was slowly destroyed over the years by illegal sand mining and the dumping of raw sewage. Recently, 700 local people, mostly women, took it upon themselves to restore the river by spending 70 days cleaning out the toxic waste of weeds, plastic and other pollutants. Bolstered by frequent drought that had put a huge strain on the available water sources and the slow action from the government, this group of earth defenders successfully revived their river. Photo credit: Vivek Nair
An Indian court has recognized Himalayan glaciers, lakes and forests as "legal persons," weeks after it granted similar status to the country's two most sacred rivers, Ganga and Yamuna. The decision aims to strengthen environmental protection by granting rights equivalent to the rights of human beings so that any injury or harm caused to the glaciers will be treated as injury or harm caused to human beings. The court also extended the status of "living entity" to swathes of the Himalayan environment, including waterfalls, meadows, lakes and forests. Photo credit: Phys.org
Geeta Mridha is a widow whose husband was killed by a tiger while fishing in the backwaters of Sundarbans National Park, India. His death was part of an increase in incidents with tigers and other animals as a result of erosion and loss of the coastal mangroves and lands due to climate change. Women like Geeta are blamed by society for the increasing hardships, poverty and land loss of their families across the region.
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
The high court in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand gave the Ganges and Yamuna rivers the status of living human entities and argued that this will contribute to the preservation and conservation of the highly polluted rivers. From now on, polluting the rivers will amount to harming a human being. The rivers provide water to half of India’s population, but they had become polluted due to industrialisation and rapid urbanisation. Moreover, two top state officials have been appointed as the legal guardians of the rivers and will represent their rights. Photo credit: Getty Images
Women from the hamlet of Khadero ki Dhani in Rajasthan’s Thar Desert travel up to a kilometer several times a day to draw water from the only water-yielding “beri,” or traditional well in the village. The long dry seasons and water scarcity has trained these women to manage the water sustainably. The women of the region are taking action every day to ensure their precious resource is not abused, such as not taking showers for periods or feeding less water to the animals. Photo credit: Raj Kumar Singh
In the Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh, India, the Dheemar people sing many songs that center around women going to fetch water from a well. For these women, singing while simultaneously fetching water empowers the collective feminine voice. Songs of fetching water are metaphors for following one’s inner voice or rising above conventional morality. The powerful imagery of women collecting water from wells is often highlighted in Indian mythology and devotional songs. Photo credit: Imran Zaib
Lakshmikutty, “grandmother” of the Kallar jungle from Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, is a well-known healer, poet and teacher at the Kerala Folklore Academy. She has a vast knowledge of around 500 herbal and natural treatments which is now being recorded by the Kerala Forest Department in the form of a book. She has been awarded the Nattu Vaidya Rathna, an award for naturopathy in 1995 and from the Indian Biodiversity Congress 2016. Photo credit: Sreekesh Raveendran Nair
Rising population, pollution and the intense competition between water users has resulted in a water crisis in many parts of India. As primary stakeholders in water resource management, women make up the majority of the 330 million people bearing the brunt of severe drought, acute water shortages and agricultural distress. In the face of many threats however, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, a New Delhi-based think tank argues that efforts to bolster women’s rights and access to information and training continue to provide hope. Photo Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS
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
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a world renowned eco-feminist, intellectual and champion of food sovereignty for millions of small-holder, peasant and Indigenous farmers, most of them women from across the world. While women have long been experts and custodians of knowledge about our ecosystems, colonization and patriarchy have worked to both commodify this knowledge and women’s life-sustaining work. Drawing from decades within movements such as the historic Chipko movement in the central Himalayan region, Vandana’s writes about how there is no ecological justice without gender justice.
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
In rural India, women are in charge of supplying energy for their households, as they are the ones who collect wood and buy kerosene. As a result, women are most affected by the lack of access to energy, as energy and poverty are highly correlated in India. Aneri Patel, a young entrepreneur who founded ENVenture, an incubator for local organizations working on clean energy businesses, explains how programs that address poverty have been emphasizing gender-sensitive approaches to stimulate off-grid renewable energy access. Photo credit: Michael Bennet
Harini Nagendra, an ecologist by training and professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, has been studying biodiversity and ecology of different public spaces for the past decade. In her new book, ‘Nature in the City; Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future’, she takes her readers on an ecological journey of Bengaluru from an agricultural center to ‘concrete-ization’. She writes of the remnants of nature’s hotspots in the city and the deep bond between slum dwellers and nature. The book highlights the works of remarkable individuals and movements that are fighting for the rights of nature and saving Bengaluru from being grasped by the silent killer, ‘concrete-ization’. Photo credit: Harini Nagendra
Celine, 73 years old, was one of five fisherwomen who went on a relay hunger strike to protest the expansion of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state. Her people have been resisting nuclear power in their communities since the 1980’s. When asked, the women say they don’t oppose science, as their adversaries like to claim, but oppose the danger the plant would pose to millions of people - and the millions that would go to foreign corporations, instead of domestic energy grids. Photo credit: K. Vigneshwaran
Single women like Kuni Majhi, who are often the most vulnerable and overlooked members of Indian society, are taking advantage of a local initiative in Mayurbhary in the country’s Eastern State of Odisha. The initiative is challenging gender stereotypes and granting land and shelter to women living alone. Photo credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation
Researcher Virginie Le Mason, of the Overseas Development Institute, says involving women in decision-making is sometimes viewed as slowing down and complicating processes, but their views are crucial to dealing with climate change. Photo credits: Atlantis Images/Shutterstock.com
A group of twenty determined women from the Kalikavu village near the Malappuram district of Kerala, working through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, are solving their community’s water scarcity—as well as breaking stereotypes around gender and labour—by digging wells. Safety hazards, hardship, and lack of help from government authorities have not hindered these women in digging 100 bore wells in the past year. Momentum for such initiatives is spreading across India. Bold women in Langoti village in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh also dug their own well after village authorities refused to help. Photo credit: Youth Ki Awaaz
Sanskrit teacher Suryamani Bhagat felt called to grassroots activism when she returned to fight for the forest near her home. She joined a group of Indigenous women to organize forest protection committees, and youth and women co-operatives, as well as launching the Jharkhand Save the Forest Movement. The women were able to persuade the government to implement a new Forest Rights Act, which allowed the Indigenous community to legally own and manage their forestlands. Now, forests in 45 villages are on the path of gradual rejuvenation. Photo credit: Global Greengrants
Climate change and the corporatization of seeds often push farmers into a cycle of inescapable debt in rural India. In response, Arun Ambatipudi explains how the Chetna Organic seed conservation project is helping women conserve cotton, rice and other seeds for food sovereignty and economic independence. Photo credit: Bijal Vachharanjani
Gyalwang Drukpa, the head of the Drupka Monastic order of nuns in Kathmandu, Nepal, led 235 nuns in a 2,000 kilometer bike ride from Kathmandu to Delhi. The nuns made numerous stops along the way to raise awareness about gender equality and environmental stewardship. Photo credit: Flying Nuns
Bibiana Ranee is from the matrilineal Khasi Indigenous community from Meghalaya, India, where the youngest daughters inherit the largest share of the family’s traditional lands. This practice empowers women to influence decisions regarding crops and livestock, save indigenous seed varieties, protect biodiversity, build a repository of medicinal herbs, and practice regenerative and organic agriculture. Strengthened by their matrilineal system, the women are spreading awareness about the connections between indigenous culture and food sovereignty, even in the face of the spread of rice monoculture, the industrial agriculture system and the political marginalization of Indigenous women. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
In this interview with Dr. Sharmind Neelormi, steering group member and the Asian coordinator of GenderCC, the Bangladeshi expert on climate justice expresses concern for the lack of attention given to poor women who are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In particular, she calls for more action by national governments who continue to neglect this vital issue. Photo credit: Proggna Paromita Majumder
Sheelu Francis and the Women’s Collective were introduced to agroecology in late 1990s when they saw how policies and technology introduced by the Green Revolution were having harmful impacts in their communities. Since then, they have used agroecological farming methods to address social, economic, and environmental issues plaguing the state of Tamil Nadu, including building ecological resilience to climate change by growing millet instead of rice, to multilevel education and campaigns on health, nutrition and farming for schools and colleges. They are also preserving traditional agricultural techniques and saving seeds. Photo credit: WhyHunger
The strains of rapid population growth, climate change and food insecurity impact the lives of India’s rural people. To encourage local farming and stewardship of the natural environment, Niangshu Gain coordinates the community group Swarnivar, which partners with high schools to educate girls about nutrition, organic farming and seed banks. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
Social change photojournalist Rucha Chitnis has been documenting the situation of rural women in India to try and understand their “invisibility.” Indian women are one of the greatest drivers of social change and activism in the country, yet their interests tend to be forgotten. Thus, Rucha’s quest is to reveal the raising grassroot movement of rural women who defend human rights, fight climate change, combat social injustice. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
In this interview, Dayamani Barla, Indigenous tribal journalist and activist from Jharkland, India, discusses how Indigenous peoples have been displaced from their traditional farming lands due to the dams, mining and other development projects. She states that Indigenous peoples do not treat Nature as a commodity but they live in harmony with Earth as their mission is to protect their natural heritage. Accordingly, the protection and guarantee of land rights is a significant part of Indigenous peoples’ lifestyle and livelihood.
In India, 320 million people are unconnected to the electrical grid, especially in rural areas. With the support of NGO Barefoot College, grandmothers in Rajasthan’s rural villages are trained for six months to be solar engineers and then work as professional solar engineers in their communities. Photo credit: DFIC from Flickr
Seed Sovereignty, Food Security And Climate Resilience: Women In The Vanguard Of The Fight Against GMOs And Corporate Agriculture
In this talk, the world renowned scientist, philosopher, and eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva speaks about the danger biotechnology imposes on biodiversity. Alarmed by this threat, Shiva founded Navdanya, a movement to protect the diversity of living resources, most notably native seeds. She also argues about the need for a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture, greed, and domination over nature to non-violence and a women-centered worldview. She argues that the solution to climate change lies in respecting women and nature simultaneously. Photo Credit: Seed Freedom
The combined effects of climate change and extreme poverty in places such as the Sundarban region of India have made it easier to lure women and children into forced prostitution, marriage and labor. But through education, women and their communities are fighting back. Once forced to leave school earn money after floods destroyed her family home, 15-year-old Ronja Khatun completed her education and works with a local charity to educate her peers about human trafficking. Photo credit: Sam Eaton
In the remote Indian state of Odisha, thousands of female farmers have returned to organic, zero-input agriculture to grow a variety of crops through small cooperatives. They are practicing both agroecology and a collective way of life, which enable them to feed their families better than the expensive chemical fertilizers and farming methods promoted by the Green Revolution. Photo credit: Common Dreams
35-year-old Kama Pradham works alongside other women from India's Gunduribadi tribal village to monitor and protect their land from illegal logging. Thanks to their efforts, India’s forests are experiencing a resurgence in growth and biodiversity while local people benefit from sustainable livelihoods. Photo credit: Manipadma Jena/ IPS
Young girls, such as 13-year-old Sunetra, are increasingly becoming the victims of sex trafficking after poverty and desperation force them into marriage at a young age. Areas worst affected by the impacts of climate change, such as the Sundarban region of southern India, are hotspots for traffickers. Photo credit: tuschman.wordpress.com
In the Indian state of Gujarat, drought is disproportionately affecting female farmers, whose income is dependent on the monsoon. Leelaben Lohana is one of five women members of the women-initiated Bhungroo group. Bhungroo is a climate change resilient water management system that collects and stores rainwater underground. It is liberating women from the imposed debt and vulnerability that comes with drought. Bhungroo is also turning to the agricultural knowledge of Indian women in exchange for land ownership and local governance, protecting women from having to migrate into urban poverty by gaining self sufficiency in their local regions instead. Photo credit: UNFCCC
Babli Roy, at only 14 years old, already has her own garden after attending a training which helped girls in the village understand their rights to land. With the knowledge gained from the training, she planted the garden and is cultivating beans. She wants to plant peas or more vegetables in the future.
Over the last decade, India has faced extreme weather situations ranging from flooding to brutal heatwaves that have cost both lives and property, with the poor and women bearing the biggest burden of these catastrophes. It is with this context in mind that the Kalyani Raj, of the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), writes about her organization’s efforts to train Indian women in both rural and urban areas on climate mitigation and adaptation activities, ranging from water management and water management, alternative and clean energy sources as well as disaster management and preparedness. Photo credit: Outreach
Since the age of 20, Suryamani Bhagat has been fighting for the right of her Indigenous community to own and manage their forests. She has helped her community apply for land titles, and founded the Torang, a tribal rights and cultural centre in her village of Kotari, India. In response to unsafe conditions that women in rural areas face, she helped create a committee of 15 women that patrol the forests and support local residents to protect the biodiversity of their homeland. She now works with the Jharkhand Save the Forest Movement to put land back into the hands of local communities. Photo credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation
As part of ‘Kudumbashree,’ an anti-poverty and gender justice movement in the region of Kerala, India, women of the Muthavan tribe from Edamalakudi, Idduki district have installed solar panels on homes as part of the village council program and helped 240 families in the village with their energy needs. The women are farming organic crops as a group, in small plots focusing on millet, paddy, tapioca, plantains and cardamom. The women are very clear and confident of their goals, including patrolling restricted-access “jeep roads” to prevent logging, mining and poaching. Photo: Madhuraj, Mathrubhumi Weekly
Study On Impact Of Climate Change: Ahmedabad’s Urban Poor Hit Hard By Heat Waves, With Women On The Frontlines
Zahra Shaik, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Public Health - Gandhinagar (IIPH), discusses the impacts of climatic heat waves on women situated in Ahmedabad, India. The impacts from heat waves mostly affect vulnerable women in the poverty-stricken urban areas of Ahmedabad. The heatwaves are found to contribute to the increase in mortality and resultantly spur the need for climate adaptation measures and mitigation within local government (Ahmedabad’s Municipal Council) and a coalition of partners within the IIPH(G) and the Natural Resource Defence Council (NRDC). A Heat Action Plan was implemented, including Shaik’s Health Impact Assessment. Both documents establish frameworks upon which the implications of health, the vulnerability of urban Indian communities and the establishment of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures can be encouraged within Ahmedabad. Photo credit: Zahra Shaik
An anthropologist and environmentalist by profession, Reetu Sogani is a grassroots practitioner and activist in Himachal Pradesh, India. Her work focuses on promoting people’s rights over their natural resources via policy and advocacy, protecting cultural and biological diversity, and improving community food security. She hopes to develop alternatives to the current definition of “development” which endorses liberalization, globalization and privatization. She promotes the principle of local production using sustainable and organic methods, local distribution and local consumption as the way to combat climate change. Photo credit: 1 Million Women
This is an interview with Dayamani Barla, winner of the 2013 Ellen Lutz award for Indigenous Leadership. Dayamani explains the current situation of Indigenous peoples in India where due to development projects, Indigenous people are displaced and become homeless. She explains that Indigenous rights are not respected anymore by the Indian government and Indigenous territories are in danger. She points out that Indigenous peoples live in harmony with Nature and they won’t give their land at any cost.
Dayamani Barla of the Munda tribe, of Jharkhand, India has emerged as a central leader opposing the increase in dams, mines, and industrial projects displacing India’s tribal Adivasis peoples. In 2012, Dayamani was jailed for her work to lead a people’s movement in Nagri to prevent land grabbing of key agricultural areas, yet continues forward in her outspoken work to protect tribal resources and ways of living and relating to the natural world. Photo credit: Cultural Survival
Climate change is a phenomenon that affects different genders in different ways, hence the importance of fighting the changes through a gender perspective. In rural India, women have been receiving assistance to practice sustainable agriculture, adapt to the environmental change, and secure food. Kajol Das is a small-scale farmer in India who recently moved to a new and safer area where she can grow her own vegetables, working alongside the Women’s Earth Alliance. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
Vandana Shiva is an internationally-renowned activist for biodioversity and against corporate globalization. Vandana has been responding to deforestation and attacks on nature since the 1970s, when peasant women in her region of the Himalayas rose up together in defense of their forest. Logging in the area led to landslides, floods, and scarcity of water and fuel, with the burden falling heavily on local women. Since that time, Vandana says that biodiversity and biodiversity-based living economies became her life’s mission, acting as a documentarian and activist, spreading the message that the failure to understand biodiversity and its many functions is at the root of the impoverishment of nature and culture. Photo credit: Suzanne Lee
Participatory-action research conducted by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development reveals that the widespread failure of agriculture, linked to climate-related drought, deeply impacts the lives of Dalit and Irular women in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. To cope with extreme weather changes, these women are seeking alternate employment in floriculture and wage labor, often bringing new health challenges. Further, they are adopting strategies such as collective farming and rainwater harvesting.
When the state of Madhya Pradesh, India closed the gates of the Omkareshwar dam, flooding dozens of villages, the women of Gunjari village refused to move from their homes until they got proper compensation for the destruction of their property and livelihoods. The struggle waged by the women of the Narmada valley demonstrates how women actively refuse to be victims of state and patriarchal violence, demanding liberation for themselves and for the river ecosystems that have sustained their community for thousands of years.
In 1984, Bhopal, India suffered what would be the world’s biggest industrial disaster: the Union Carbide gas leak that killed more than 20,000 people. More than 20 years have passed and victims and their offspring still have no justice. Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, two Bhopal activists, are demanding justice for survivors. In 1986, both women, former workers at the factory, organized an independent union to fight for their worker’s rights and conditions and better wages, which helped them achieve gains for their class. In 2002, they organized a hunger strike that had unimaginable reach also to other countries and more than 1,500 people participating, and have, ever since, continued fighting to find justice for their own. Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize
Since 1985, Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Medha Patkar has fought tribal displacement and environmental degradation from dam construction in India. She is the lead organizer of Narmada Bachao Andolan, a grassroots organization dedicated to opposing dams along the Narmada River, and helped establish the National Alliance of People’s Movement. Although facing police violence, she organizes rallies, occupations, hunger strikes, and legal battles against development projects and has seen success with a ten-year campaign against the Sardar Sarovar Dam, among other efforts. Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize