This article by Tanya and Vysakh, first appeared on People’s Dispatch on 23 November
Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement, began on November 22 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This international meeting aims to reflect on different challenges faced by peasant women and women in general. Over 60 peasant women leaders from 20 different countries across the globe joined the conference.
La Via Campesina (LVC) [the peasants’ way] operates in 81 countries with the objective of bringing together millions of peasants, small farmers, landless people, rural women, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers. It aims to defend peasant agriculture against corporate driven agriculture and to build food sovereignty globally. It is committed to the struggle for the liberation of its people and the continuous transformation of their reality. Strengthening and promoting popular peasant feminism is one of the central agendas of LVC.
The principle objectives of Vía Campesina’s peasant women’s meeting are to realize collective study and political training as a way to advance organizational consciousness, and to leverage and strengthen organizational tasks for the LVC women articulation (refers to organising in Latin America) at the regional level as well as internationally. The meeting also aims to be a platform to share experiences of women’s struggle in different regions, and to exchange organizational and formative work processes with the women members of LVC in different regions and finally to construct an action plan for international articulation.
“We are developing the strategies with La Vía Campesina, the biggest peasant movement and it is a way forward for us. Recently, the peasant rights declaration was approved by the third committee of the United Nations [it is yet to be adopted by the UN and is expected to happen in December]. It is La Vía Campesina who first fought for these declarations and peasant rights and for those working in the rural areas”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, representative of the Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum, Zimbabwe.
The event began with the Mística ceremony [a ceremony in which the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind are honoured]. Peasant women from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe associated with different local and regional social organizations shared the experiences and problems they live through every day. Lack of equal rights, political power, decision making rights, educational access leading to exclusion of women; feudal mentality of men; differential wages; violence against women; etc. were some of the key challenges brought out and emphasized in the conference.
“All the lessons that we learn by traveling and coming together with our compañeras [fellow comrades] from different countries have led us to the realization that this is a globalized effort, that we cannot do it regionally. So, this is why we do it and this is why we will continue to do it”, said Rosemary Martinez, president of Sin Fronteras Organizing Project, Texas, highlighting the importance of the event.
The event will culminate on November 25, with a solidarity demonstration to mark the International Day to Combat Violence against Women.