“To be uncounted is to be discounted”, Nettie Wiebe shares experiences of women’s struggle for land and resources

A delegation of peasants, representing La Via Campesina, is taking part in the CSM Forum, the Civil Society Mechanism for relations to the UN Committee on World Food Security, in Rome this October.

On 15th October, which was also the occassion of the International Day of Rural Women, representatives from global women’s movements and other civil society organizations shared experiences of women’s struggle for land and resources, and introduce into the General Recommendation on the Rights of Rural Women, adopted by CEDAW in March 2016. 

Nettie Weibe, representing National Farmers’ Union (Canada) and La Via Campesina, spoke at the event. Here is the summary of her speech;

 “Justice for women requires that our rights to land and productive resources are protected legally. The legal framework is an absolute condition but it’s not sufficient. We must have economic and social transformations.

I am a farmer from Saschetchewan, the prairie region of Canada. When European settlers dispossesed and displaced indigenous people, titles were given to men only. Agriculture is deeply patriarchal whether you are talking on Africa or Canada. By 1980, the matrimonial property was given to women. It took us to survey and persuade the government that we do farm work. The male were named as farmers. To be uncounted is to be discounted. In 1991, we have always been producers all around the world but it’s just not recognized.

There is a huge concentration of land in the hands of private capital and investors.

Who owns the land? It’s owned by companies and there is no women’s names among those investors.

As long as corporate concentration and financial impact/power remain in our agricultural systems, women will not be recognized. We need to challenge the neoliberal-capitalist trade regimes even in a place where the legal framework gives a space to women.

When we talk about agriculture there is confusion with agri-business. We need to reintroduce the cultural aspect of agriculture. Women are key in reimbedding the culture in agriculture.”