La Via Campesina reaffirms its position against patriarchy
(Bogotá, December 2, 2023)- La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, in its 8th International Conference in Bogotá, Colombia, has introduced a new “Men Against Patriarchy” space to foster collective contemplation among men within the movement to promote inclusivity, equal participation, and safety for all in the movement with a focus on women and diversities.
The ‘Men against patriarchy’ space
During the meeting, there was debate about the purpose of this space using it to actively combat patriarchy within the movement. Yolanda Areas, from Rural Workers Association (ATC), speaking on behalf of the Women’s Articulation of La Via Campesina, emphasized that men must acknowledge their male privileges, be more aware, and study women’s history to value it, advocating for a shift from mere statements to concrete actions.
Sergio underscored the urgency to rethink and interrogate masculinity, acknowledging the pivotal role of women throughout history and the ongoing progress of men in understanding and deconstructing patriarchy. This learning process, including a theoretical understanding of patriarchal oppression structures, is considered imperative, even if discomfort is a necessary part of the process, as expressed by Vinicius from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).
La Via Campesina has made significant strides toward gender balance. When the movement was founded thirty years ago, itt had only one woman in its International Coordination Committee (ICC). Today, it boasts absolute gender equality at the ICC, a transformation credited to the tireless efforts of women within the movement. Men are now called upon to actively engage in learning processes, be aware of their positions and privileges, and take proactive actions to combat patriarchy within the movement without adopting a paternalistic approach.
Despite these advances, La Via Campesina reflects on the stark gender inequalities present in the rural and agrarian world. Women experience higher levels of poverty compared to men, bear the brunt of violence, and have limited access to land. Unpaid caregiving work in the fields is predominantly shouldered by rural and peasant women.
“Care work is immensely valuable. Men must play a more active role in caregiving; it’s also a way to combat patriarchy.”, said Sergio.