Globalising hope, globalising the struggle!
La Via Campesina is an international movement bringing together millions of peasants, small and medium size farmers, landless people, rural women and youth, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. Built on a strong sense of unity, solidarity between these groups, it defends peasant agriculture for food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture that destroys social relations and nature.
Women produce 70% of the food on earth but are marginalised and oppressed by neo-liberalism and patriarchy. They play a crucial role in La Via Campesina. The movement defends women’s rights and gender equality and struggles against all forms of violence against women.
Young farmers, committed to the historical struggle for the liberation of our peoples and the transformation of our reality, are an inspiring force in the movement. They contribute to advancing Food Sovereignty globally.
La Via Campesina comprises 182 local and national organisations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist, multicultural movement, political in its demand for social justice while being independent from any political party, economic or other type of affiliation.
A movement born in 1993
A group of farmers’ representatives – women and men – from four continents founded La Via Campesina in 1993, Mons, Belgium. At that time, agricultural policies and agribusinesses were becoming globalised and small farmers needed to develop a common vision and struggle to defend it. Small scale farmers’ organisations also wanted to have their voices heard and to participate directly in the decisions that were affecting their lives.
1. Defending Food Sovereignty, Struggle for Land and Agrarian Reforms
La Via Campesina launched its political vision of “Food Sovereignty” at the World Food Summit in 1996. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It develops a model of small scale sustainable production benefiting communities and their environment. Food sovereignty prioritises local food production and consumption, giving a country the right to protect its local producers from cheap imports and to control its production.
It includes the struggle for land and genuine agrarian reform that ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, water, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those who produce food and not of the corporate sector.
2. Promoting Agroecology and Defending Local Seeds
La Via Campesina sees Agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life. It recognises that small farmers, including peasants, fisher folk, pastoralists and indigenous people, who make up almost half the world’s people, are capable of producing food for their communities and feeding the world in a sustainable and healthy way.
Seeds are an irreplaceable pillar of food production and the basis of productive, social and cultural reproduction. La Via Campesina promotes farmers’ rights to use, develop and reproduce peasant’s seeds and struggles against attempts by corporations to control our common heritage.
3. Promoting Peasant Rights and Struggle Against Criminalisation of Peasants
There is an increase in displacement, criminalisation and discrimination affecting peasants globally. Transnational corporations keep violating basic rights, with full impunity, while people struggling to defend the rights of their communities continue to be criminalised and at times even killed.
La Via Campesina promotes a Universal Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, which includes right to life and adequate standards of living, the right to land and territory, to seeds, information, justice and equality between women and men.
A decentralised structure
La Via Campesina is a grassroots mass movement whose vitality and legitimacy comes from peasants’ organisations at the grassroots. The movement is based on the decentralisation of power between all its regions. The international secretariat rotates according to the collective decision made every four years by the International Conference. It was first located in Belgium (1993-1996), then in Honduras (1997-2004), Indonesia (2005-2013), and is currently based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 2013.
The International Conference, held every four years, is the highest space for political discussions and decisions of the movement, where future actions and agenda are defined. Since 1993 six such International conferences were organised.
Contributions from members, private donations and financial support of some NGOs, foundations and public authorities make this work possible.
Join the Actions
- 8th March: International Women’s Day – La Via Campesina joins women’s movements and social movements to demand equal rights for women.
- 17th April: International Day of Peasant’s Struggle – Direct actions, cultural activities, conferences, film screenings, community debates and rallies are organized by a wide variety of groups, communities or organisations.
- 10th September: International Struggle Day against the WTO -In the memory of Mr. Lee Kyun Hae, a South Korean farmer who sacrificed himself during a mass protest against the WTO in Cancun, Mexico in 2003. He was holding a banner saying “WTO kills farmers”.
- 16th October: International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against Transnational corporations – Direct actions, activities held across the world in defense of food sovereignty and for the rights of peasants.
- 25th November: International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women – La Via Campesina joins women’s movements to demand justice and a violence-free life in all spheres for women and girls.
- 3rd December: Global No Pesticides Use Day – where the movement stands in solidarity with the struggle against agrotoxics and chemicals, which are being increasingly pushed by agribusiness.
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