Declaration International Woman Peasant Assembly On Peasant Rights

Jakarta, 20 June 2008 

We, women peasants from Colombia, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Indonesia, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia and East Timor, gathered in Jakarta and discussed the women peasant situation in the world. 

The difficult situation in the villages and being landless forces women to go to the city and elsewhere abroad to look for jobs as low pay workers. There is poverty in the villages and women do not have enough income to feed the family, so hunger and malnutrition are increasing both in urban and rural areas. 

The responsibility of looking after the family is in the hands of women and the shortage and uncertainty of health care and education for the children make women work long hours for low wages.

Women who work in the fields and use chemical fertilizers are at high risk for their health. The use of such fertilizers threatens both the human body and the environment, especially when people are illiterate and not able to read the instructions and have no one to explain how to use the product.

Women also suffer violence at the hands of their husbands, partners, or employers. Such violence can be physical or mental and even life threatening.

The global agricultural policies imposed by the WTO and the IMF, today aggravated by the food crisis, force peasants to borrow money for farming and in the end they are heavily indebted and have to leave their land as a result. Many peasants commit suicide when they can not pay the debts, and in many cases indebtedness forces men to leave rural areas for the cities, leaving the women to alone be responsible for the farm households.

Moreover, agrarian conflicts have involved women at the front line of struggles risking their lives.

Young people no longer wish to work as peasants because their work is not socially recognized and therefore insufficiently paid. Furthermore, to buy land for farming is expensive because of the speculation due to development or industrialization : housing, industrial areas, commercial areas, and infrastructures which raise land prices. In this situation peasants who have been working in those areas are displaced to less fertile zones with the accompanying loss of biodiversity.

In many countries, peasants are not allowed to maintain, preserve, exchange and grow their own seeds, so the agricultural knowledge is disappearing and peasants are obligated to buy seeds from TNCs which just think of their own profits. These companies are creating GMOs and uniform crops with the loss of many species and biodiversity in general.

FTAs agreed by governments without consultation with the people are imposing food imports that threaten food sovereignty of nations and neglect the issue of safe and healthy food. As for the FTA between Korea and US, the beef import from US was the precondition of the deal. FTA have effect on the country but also women personally. For instance, through FTAs Indonesia will export sea food to Japan in exchange for Indonesian nurses who will work in Japan.

Seeing the difficulties faced by women in our daily lives as peasants; the International Women’s Assembly on Peasant Rights held in Jakarta demand:

All violations of peasant human rights that occur in our daily lives must stop.

To implement an International Convention on Peasant Rights as the struggle for recognition of peasants. This convention is to be the instrument to uphold the rights of peasants and ensure fulfillment by governments.

It is very important that the convention formally recognize the role of women peasants in agriculture. The women peasant should have the proper health care and education of the children.