In October 2010, the International Land Coalition (ILC) and Action Aid (AA) jointly organised an earth workshop at TERRA MADRE, Slow Food five-day meeting bringing together more than 5000 representatives from a worldwide network of food communities, cooks, academics, youth and musicians from all over the world, united in a desire to promote sustainable local food production in harmony with the environment while respecting knowledge handed down over the generations.
The ILC-AA was entitled "Women's Rights and the Right to Land" and focused on what remains to be done in this area to combat hunger. The event brought together women farmers, fishers and other producers from North and South to identify common problems and explore shared solutions, in a context in which the crucial role of women in food security is increasingly recognised, but concrete actions that reduce the inequalities are insufficient. Discussion has been lively and participated, and the overall session has been thought-provoking, giving participants the opportunity to break usual boundaries among different communities and expertises.
The Slow Food on-line Magazine has recently publuished an article on the event:
Women and Land
“There is not one ‘women’s issue’ that does not concern all of humanity, all of the earth. Everyone’s future is at stake when it comes to women’s ownership and control.” With these words, from the play Ragazze (Girls), actress Lella Costa introduced the Terra Madre 2010 workshop on women and land.
Even though women are almost always directly responsible for feeding the family, and in rural areas they are generally the ones who ensure there is food for the whole community, 98% of the world’s agricultural land is owned by men.
The female world often has the task of passing on traditional knowledge from generation to generation, yet the important role of women is rarely recognized and in many countries gender equality remains a distant, unrealized goal. Violence, often perpetrated in the family, is one of the main causes of death and socio-economic changes impact much more on women’s lives than on the male population.
In the face of such extreme vulnerability, there is a lack on the one hand of suitable policies and on the other of educational opportunities able to develop a culture of equality and cooperation between the sexes from the bottom up.
Women are not just watching idly, and in some cases their reaction has been decisive in changing the course of events. In the Philippines, for example, women farmers were at the front line in demanding the return of land taken by big estate owners, who did not hesitate to hire private militia to fight them during the 2007 revolts. The sugar-cane fields, whose ownership was demanded by the local population, became the setting for guerrilla warfare. “To support agrarian reform, the women active in the protest went all the way to the capital, Manila, sometimes traveling as much as 10 hours by boat to demand their rights in the city,” said Karen Tuason of the Philippine association Task Force Mapalad.