[From SABC News]  United in song and in views, participants of today’s Rural Women’s Forum gathered at the Occupy Land site just outside the Inkosi Luthuli International Convention Centre to raise their views. 

They sang: “ha re batle nnywere nnywere, ha re batle sorry-sorry, re batla nnete fela”, simply translated: "we don’t want any cheap talk and any dismissals, we only want the truth."  Most of them were clad in black t-shirts bearing the message: Women, guardians of seed, life and Earth, VIVA! 

Nancy Kachiwe, Policy and Advocacy advisor for Land Access Movement of South Africa says they want land and resource rights. She says their memorandum of demand will make up part of the civil society memorandum that will be handed to the United Nations (UN) and representatives of the South African Government as hosts of COP 17, on Saturday.

Kachiwe says rural women in many parts of Africa are not allowed to own land, something which today’s gathering is meant to challenge. She says according to statistics released by the UN, women produce 80% of food in households as a result of their farming activities, yet not much is done to support their initiatives. She argues that if ore land is allocated to women farmers, this will ensure food and human security, hence they are calling for a 50/50 split land ownership for women.

They also called for an end to the exploitation of Africa. Rural women are also calling for more investment into their projects. At present, women do not benefit from financing credit inputs, thus they are demanding a 50% funding for women farmers. There is a general concern among rural women that many solutions coming out of COP 17 talks will offer false solutions. They do not believe that carbon markets are the way to go.

The women maintain that schemes, like GMOs and bio-fuels, put up to fight climate change are actually taking land from women. The women say they believe in indigenous plants that are adaptable to survive climate change. Another concern for rural female farmers is that corporates are taking more responsibilities in food production, a situation which leads to increased rates of malnutrition in many African countries.

Lending support to the gathering was Kevin Buckland, who says financial interest from corporations influences countries to block progress on the ongoing climate change talks. He says power structures indicate that those with money block the progress of the poor, and in the process polluting principles of democracy.

As they went into raptures and cheers speaker after speaker in one voice, the women shouted “African solutions for African problems.” They also called for an end to the exploitation of Africa.

[Photo credit: Tshepo Tsheole, SABC News]



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