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Celebrating and Funding Women’s Leadership Around the World

Woman’s liberation is necessary because no woman should be subjugated, abused or exploited. As women, we have the inherit right to live full lives, choose what we do with our bodies, choose who we spend our lives with and how we want to live. Women’s liberation is also a fundamental part of creating sustainable world where all living things can flourish. No one is free until all are free, no body is free until all bodies are free, no living thing is healthy – water, seeds, minerals, animals, humans – until all are well cared for.

At Grassroots International we know that to build a just world those most impacted must lead the way in developing the solutions. That is why we support projects that promote women’s leadership and that lift up the struggles of indigenous and peasant women around the world. In celebration of International Women’s Day (and every day!), here are some of the projects we are proud to have supported recently…

World March of Women – Strengthening women’s organizing in the struggle for food sovereignty

The World March of Women is an international feminist movement working to end the root causes of poverty and violence against women. The international secretariat of the World March of Women is currently located in Mozambique. In this project they are organizing a feminist political education training on food sovereignty, which will be taking place in Mali. (Food sovereignty is the right of people to control how their food is produced, making sure that it is culturally and locally appropriate, using ecologically sound and sustainable methods). In Africa, most rural women work in agriculture to feed their own families and to generate income. As guardians of traditional food production techniques, women are also guardians of the land. At this gathering, women from different organizations and movements will engage in discussions and collective learning to build the food sovereignty movement in West Africa. They will share experiences and discuss strategies for resisting industrial agriculture, protecting traditional seeds and defending land. We Are the Solution, another Grassroots International grantee, will also participate in this gathering.

We Are the Solution-Ghana – Building a Movement of Rural Women Farmers

We Are the Solution (WAS) is a campaign of rural women farmers associations in West Africa working to build a movement for food sovereignty and agroecology. This project works to strengthen WAS-Ghana through providing tools to empower rural women farmers. Many government policies in Ghana promote industrial farming which has harmful consequences for women and their families. Instead of producing food for people, it produces cash crops for export. This project provides community level trainings on bee keeping, seed storage, and agroecological rice farming. They also organize a community food and seed fair and host a celebration for Rural Women’s Day (October 15th).

Union of Agricultural Work Committees – Women’s Empowerment ProjectGroup photo of women's cooperative, Palestine.

Poverty levels in Palestine have increased steadily since 2000 under the Israeli occupation, particularly impacting women whose access to resources is limited. To build the resilience of women in the West Bank, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee’s (UAWC) Women’s Empowerment Project works with young women to increase their economic autonomy. They provide training on how to grow food and start cooperatives to improve their livelihood. Together the women produce and sell foods and goods, generating income for themselves and their families. This is an empowering model that moves them away from relying on relief programs and provides training for them to collectively run businesses and support their communities.

Peasant Unity Committee  – Women’s Vegetable Gardens (Guatemala)

Thanks to the Women’s Vegetable Gardens project of the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC), indigenous and peasant women are receiving support and training to start agroecolocal garden in their communities. Through this project, women learn agroecological gardening techniques and about garden management and are provided with seeds and natural fertilizers. CUC sees this as a strategy to build food sovereignty and lift up the important role that women play in the livelihood of the family. The vegetables produced in these gardens provides healthy food for the family, generates income, and lowers the rate of malnutrition for women and families in Sololá and Santa Lucia Utatlán, Guatemala. Women of all ages participate in these trainings.

We Are the Solution – Community Radio

Members of We Are the Solution (WAS) are receiving training on how to host community radio programs to spread information about agroecology, food sovereignty and the rights of rural women farmers. In Africa, biotech seed giants and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are devising plans to replace family farms with industrial farming, promoting genetically modified seeds and farming methods that keeps control over food production concentrated in the hands of only a few big companies. Dominant patriarchal systems restrict the rights of women and undervalue the key role they play in food production, especially in rural areas. By using community radio, leaders of rural women’s associations can promote the use of agroecology, spread the word about the global struggle of food sovereignty, and raise awareness about the threat of corporate control of food production. The radio programs will reach thousands of listeners – farmers, women, authorities and decision makers. They aim to inspire and influence rural women in neighboring communities, regions or countries.