Opinion: Women farmers in Europe

All over the world women play a unique and vital role in fixing our broken food system. There is a strong need in Europe to strengthen women farmers in their work, through education and training, argues Hanny van Geel.

2016-02-19-Hanny.jpgFirst published in Farming Matters | 31.4 | December 2015

All over the world women play a unique and vital role in fixing our broken food system. The prevailing view on agriculture and food in Europe and in European institutions is limited to economics and trade. In these places (old) men in suits discuss amongst themselves and take decisions. In social movements working for the environment, development, health, agroecology and food sovereignty, women of all ages are active in various roles in equal in numbers to men, or even as a majority. Women work in urban gardens, sell at farmers’ markets, do catering, process food, they are active in debates and are often leaders in these social movements.

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La Via Campesina struggle against femicide and violence against women

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-11-25-No_Violence_against_women.jpg(Harare, November 25, 2015) On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th, La Vía Campesina will be mobilizing to strengthen the struggle and resistance  around our capitalist, patriarchal system. Taking into account how this system endangers the lives of women, how it treats them as objects, how it exploits women and removes them from their homes, creates wars and militarizes civilian territories, it is urgent to build new human relationships that are founded on gender justice and equal rights.

La Vía Campesina is reaffirming its commitment to the "Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women" undertaken in 2008 as a tool for debate and education within the peasant movement. Additionally, it aims to call out the structural violence in society that threatens women around the world. This violence manifests itself in every arena, including the physical, psychological, economic and the political one and it is reinforced daily as if it were something natural and normal.

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Let’s talk about the rights of women farmers!

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-11-20-frauen-traktorsc.jpg(Vienna, Austria, November 19, 2015) Violence is not always obvious. The traditional structures of power and possession on farms in Austria tend to harm womens’ personal, economic and political rights. Many women suffering from economic dependency and oppression are not aware that they are victims of violence - and that they are able to defend against it. (Economic) Violence against women is still a taboo in the Austrian countryside.

Who owns the farm? Who decides about investments? Who does negotiations? Who has access to money? Who represents the farm? Who engages in political processes? And who does the house and care work?

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Kao Bart Village, Thailand: Peasant Women in Struggle for Land Rights and Well Being

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-11-20-Thailand.jpg(Bangkok, November 19, 2015) Kao Bart Village is a forest-dwelling community in Dong Yai Forest in Buriram, province near Thai-Cambodia border, Thailand.  Read on to learn about the complex relationship between the state, the military, corporate interests in agriculture, and the determination of women peasants for autonomy and security in Kao Bart Village. This story is contributed by Assembly of the Poor, Thailand.

In 1970, the Kao Bart villagers were encouraged by the Thai army to live and farm in the forest as part of the military’s anti-communist strategies. In 1976, after the war against communism was over, the Thai state decided to push the villagers out from the forest. Their farmlands were been given to corporates for eucalyptus plantation franchises.

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