28 June 2021, Brussels
Today, European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) launches “Embracing Rural Diversity: Genders and sexualities in the peasant movement”, hoping to inspire open dialogue around gender and sexual diversity in rural areas and in the peasant movement and strengthen the struggle towards inclusive, systemic transformation.
Through the testimonies and stories of small and medium-scale farmers and rural workers from Europe and beyond, ECVC continues its work on gender and sexual diversity in rural areas, which began in 2015 during ECVC’s annual Women’s Assembly. The publication calls for organised action, to add colour to the peasant struggle, break traditional rural stereotypes, embrace inclusive languages, and acknowledge that nature itself is diverse and queer. For ECVC, this perspective of diversity must play a key political role in the transformation of the food system.
In the context of wider Pride celebrations and reflecting upon aggressions and attacks on LGBTQIA+ individuals in rural contexts, it is evident that more must be done to create a safe and inclusive space within the food sovereignty movement to tackle these issues. For the contributors, the conservative mindset of many rural areas serves to prove the need to join forces to understand diverse identities as political identities and share the value of LGBTQIA+ experiences with the peasant movement and broader society.
As Betty Wienforth, a member of Uniterre, Switzerland, describes, gender experiences in the world of farming can be hard, “We are far from an equitable distribution of reproductive rights, the end of male dominance in the fields, respectful use of the pronouns desired by trans and non-binary people. (…) It’s time to make our diverse voices heard in our fields so we can finally take our place!”
This thread of identity and freedom to take a space in the rural world is a key theme of the publication. “You can be a peasant, be proud of your occupation, be attracted to men, actively try to move away from clichés and heteronormativity, and loudly carry your union’s message! I won’t be ashamed of who I am!” says Jean-Baptiste Roux from La Conféderation paysanne, France.
And Beth Stewart from the Landworkers’ Alliance, UK, highlights the importance of the intersectional dimension of that work: “We want to challenge people’s ideas of what it looks like to be a land worker. And we want to uplift people who are queer in the countryside, or black, or trans or whomever they are!”
Through the diverse testimonies of this publication, ECVC, LVC and allies will continue the work to fight for food sovereignty with diversity, both internally and externally, with a focus on solidarity, empowerment and exchange. Those who are interested in the work within the organisation and beyond are encouraged to get in touch, in order to enlarge our alliances and strengthen diverse communities in rural areas and in the peasant movement.
Notes to editor