Equal rights for women in Europe: after 100 years of struggle we still haven’t achieved it!

Press Release

Brussels, March 8, 2011

On the occasion of the International Day of Women, the European Coordination Via Campesina reiterates its commitment to fight for equal rights for women at all levels. The sad reality is that, to this day, women continue to suffer from male violence and discrimination – whether in the economic, social or cultural fields.

The European Union – in its attempt to resolve the economic and financial crisis without harming the interest of the financial and speculation sector – urges governments to undertake political reforms that have severe implications for the rights of people and directly impact labour laws, pensions, health, education … when they are not simply calling for the privatization of public services. Women are the one’s bearing the brunt of most of these reforms and austerity measures, the situation being particularly difficult for women farmers and those working in rural areas.

In Europe, as in the rest of the world, the power continues to be concentrated in the hands of a privileged few. Land grabbing is a blatant example of this situation. To this day, for historical and cultural reasons – but also because their economic and social role is ignored or not recognized – women do not enjoy equal rights when it comes to access to land. The pressure created by land grabbing through agribusiness and monoculture of crops for export, only make it harder for women farmers to gain access to land and produce healthy and quality food, while earning their livelihood. (You will find below an invitation to a seminar in Brussels on this issue).

European policies on trade, agriculture and development continue to ignore, even deny, the essential role played by women in food production and biodiversity conservation.

Trade policies continue to be designed in a spirit of conquering markets, favouring a small number of large agribusiness corporations who, through their hegemony and their practices, destroy local markets and proximity trade. Supported by subsidies and through dumping, these multinationals manage to impose market prices that are below local production costs. The result is that farmers cannot sell to sell their crops on the markets anymore, causing them to go broke, increasing job insecurity in agricultural employment as well as the destruction of small farms … all this having a particularly dramatic impact on the livelihoods of women farmers and rural workers.

European women farmers are mostly active as smallholders. It is essential to provide direct and effective support to these women if we are to ensure the survival of rural Europe, guarantee the conservation of biodiversity and contribute significantly to the fight against climate change. However, the present Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), inspired by WTO policies and favouring the agro-industrial complex, discriminates against these rural women, by refusing to recognize their specific rights when it comes to providing subsidies and aid. Access to land and credit remain major challenges for rural women. In many regions, shared ownership of the land and the farm is not a widespread practice – meaning that women’s independence is limited (in terms of income, after divorce..).

When will EU policy start to actively promote equal rights for women and implement food sovereignty?

We demand:

1. Equal access to all economic and social rights

2. A new CAP that recognizes the full rights of farmer women – this necessarily implies a clear recognition of the joint ownership of farms and land

3. Transversal support for gender equality in all EU policies

4. Equal participation of women in all decision-making processes, guaranteed by gender equality laws

5. The application of affirmative action measures to ensure full equal rights for women

6. The elimination of all forms of discrimination, be they legal, social, economic or moral.


Lidia Senra: 0034609845861 (ES – FR )

Maria Vogt: 004322455153 (DE-ES-EN)


Media advisory


“No Land, No Future”
Political dialogue on peasant agriculture, access to land and food sovereignty

On the 21st of March 2011, a coalition of organizations (CNCD-11.11.11, le Monde selon les femmes, Entraide & Fraternité, CETRI, Commission Justice et Paix, Maison du développement durable à LLN, Ateliers Citoyens, European Coordination Via Campesina, WIDE,…) is organizing a day of reflection and policy dialogue on peasant agriculture in terms of access to land and its control, including a gender perspective.

The meeting will be held at the Federal Parliament, rue de Louvain 21, 1000 Brussels.

During the morning of this day, actors of civil society of the North and South (Philippines, Senegal, Bolivia, Congo, Brazil, …) will participate in exchanges to provide insights into the reality of their countries. They will work together to submit recommendations to policy makers concerned for discussion during the afternoon.

Information: marzia.rezzin @ eurovia.org; subscription:francois.delvaux @ entraide.be