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Rural Women (and Men) Lead the Way in Ending Violence against Women

November 2010


  Today, November 25th, is observed around the world as the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women. Grassroots International joins women and men everywhere in calling for an end to all violence – interpersonal and structural – against women and girls. And, we especially lift up our partner La Via Campesina – the 150 million strong global movement of peasants and small producers (women and men) from 69 countries – who in 2008 at their 5th international convening in Maputo, Mozambique launched a Global Campaign to End Violence against Women.   As the Via said in its statement announcing the campaign:   “One issue was very clear … that all the forms of violence that women face in our societies – among them physical, economic, social, cultural and macho violence, and violence based on differences of power – are also present in rural communities, and as a result, in our organizations. This, in addition to being a principal source of injustice, also limits the success of our struggles. We recognize the intimate relationships between capitalism, patriarchy, machismo and neo-liberalism, as a detriment to the women peasants and farmers of the world. All of us together, women and men of La V a Campesina, make a responsible commitment to build new and better human relationships among us, as a necessary part of the construction of the new societies to which we aspire. For this reason during this Fifth Conference we decided to break the silence on these issues, and are launching the World Campaign ‘For an End to Violence against Women’.   We commit ourselves anew, with greater strength, to the goal of achieving that complex but necessary and true gender parity in all spaces and organs of debate, discussion, analysis and decision-making in La Via Campesina, and to strengthen the exchange, coordination and solidarity among the women of our regions. We recognize the central role of women in agriculture for food self-sufficiency, and the special relationship of women with the land, with life and with seeds. In addition, we women have been and are a guiding part of the construction of the Via Campesina from its beginning. If we do not eradicate violence towards women within our movement, we will not advance in our struggles, and if we do not create new gender relations, we will not be able to build a new society.”   We also lift up our donors that – through small and big gifts to Grassroots’ work – enable our partners to work to end violence against women in their organizations, households, and communities. In 2010, Grassroots made over $100,000 in grants to women-led initiatives such as the Via’s Global Campaign to End Violence against Women.   Grassroots has supported the Via Campesina to design and implement this campaign on three continents. One of the campaign’s initial goals is to engage and train male and female organizers of peasant and indigenous groups that are members of the Via, to address gender and women’s rights issues in their own work and living spaces. And the Via Campesina has called on its members to collaborate with allies in launching national campaigns (within their countries) to end violence against women.   Responding to that call, indigenous and peasant organizations in Guatemala launched a national campaign in collaboration with the Latin American Confederation of Peasant Organizations (CLOC), the National Network in Defense of Food Sovereignty in Guatemala (REDSAG) and the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC). This is a major accomplishment for a country that is still healing from a violent 30-year conflict that devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people.   As Maria Elena Martinez-Torres of the Centre for Research and Graduate Studies of Social Anthropology – Southeast Campus in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Via’s advisor for the campaign told us: “Through this campaign, we want to denounce all forms of violence, not only domestic violence, but the brutality against women who defend their rights. We know that violence against women is rooted in an unequal system that prevents women from owning land and saving their own seeds and that destroys local economies.”   Globalize the Struggle! Globalize the Hope!

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