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Role of Women Strengthened in Global Peasant Rights Movement

#Articles & Analysis#Human Rights Defense
June 2013


Jakarta, Indonesia. 11 June, 2013 –Pioneering peasants and farmers organization, supported by Boston-based Grassroots International, recognizes the role of women in the movement at its 20th anniversary celebrations.  A recently concluded Women’s Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia greatly strengthened the role of women in the global struggle for equity, land sovereignty, and worker rights. As part of La Via Campesina’s (LVC) 20th anniversary celebrations, women farmers and activists from Asia, Europe, America and Africa gathered for the 4th International Women’s Assembly in early June. The Women’s Assembly was a chance to give visibility to the role of rural women in the peasants’ struggle.  LVC has made many advances on that front already, requiring a mandatory 50 percent representation of women in all of its decision-making bodies and activities, a global campaign to stop violence against women, and training for young women in schools across the world on their rights.  At the event, Francisca ‘Pancha’ Rodriguez from Chile, one of many inspiring speakers present, powerfully linked the dual oppression of capitalism and patriarchy, and called for a greater recognition of the roles of women within peasant agriculture. “I am a peasant and a feminist,” declared Pancha, who fought Pinochet’s brutal military dictatorship in Chile. “I recognize that ours is a long struggle even within our peasant movement but we must fight on to achieve food sovereignty in the fullest sense of the term, which of necessity is the full sovereignty of women.” “This assembly truly represents the rich diversity of women’s struggles globally, and the powerful resistance of the women of La Via Campesina” adds Nette Wiebe from Canada.   Some of the issues highlighted included the inequitable demands of domestic work and labor on peasant women, and the ravages of mining and extractive industries on rural women. Information on the proceedings from the conference can be found on LVC’s website.  Founded in 1993, LVC’s work is supported through a funding and working partnership since 2004 with Boston, MA based Grassroots International. Grassroots funded member groups of LVC in Haiti and Brazil during the prior decade as well. LVC brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers through over 150 local and national organizations in 70 countries. The group directly and indirectly works with over 200 million farmers and small producers from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  Grassroots too is celebrating its own important milestone this year. “From its inception 30 years ago Grassroots has unwaveringly believed in the power and necessity of social movements for realizing social change,” says Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International, who was also present in Jakarta for this event. “Our conviction remains [as] firm today… the daunting problems of the day from climate change and women’s oppression to world hunger and economic inequality can only be resolved by the power of movements. Today, some of the most dynamic and powerful movements include those of peasants and other small producers, women, and indigenous peoples.”  Itelvina Masioli, representative of LVC, will be in the USA to receive an award from Grassroots International at its 30th Anniversary Gala on September 28, 2013 at the Dante Alighieri Center in Cambridge, MA. Tickets will go on sale in the coming months. Grassroots welcomes donations, support and contributions to further its partnerships with groups like the La Via Campesina. Photo by Tineke D’haese for LVC

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