November 25, 2021, is the Global Day of Action for the Elimination of Violence against Women. La Via Campesina calls upon its members and allies to organize activities to raise awareness, give visibility, stand in solidarity and denounce the alarming levels of violence experienced by women, children and LGBTQIA* people worldwide; a violence that has only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. Society cannot ignore these multiple forms of violence impacting more than half of the world’s population. We require public policies that guarantee their rights and assure dignified life for women and communities.
The world is confronting multiple structural crises on the social, economic and political fronts. Hunger has been on the rise since 2015, disproportionately affecting women and children. Neo-liberal financial packages pushed by IMF and other institutions pave the way for further loss of rights, with high rates for poverty, unemployment, forced migration, exclusion and shamefully high femicide rates.
For these reasons, we demand that human rights be guaranteed for all. Ensuring the right to food must be the goal that guides urgent actions and decision-making processes, and public policies to achieve Food Sovereignty. Agrarian Reform and Peasant Agroecology are necessary conditions to achieve food sovereignty. Our collective struggles are to ensure access to health services and education in rural areas, fair prices and markets based on solidarity, healthy food for rural and urban areas, taking care of water and forests. Our primary task is to ensure no one dies of starvation!
Hunger and poverty, the consequence of a global crisis
Oxfam had estimated that 11 people die every minute due to hunger, higher even than the mortality rate for COVID-19!
Hunger and inequality are born of a failed but dominant economic, social and political system. The crisis of starvation and malnutrition is a sign of this failure. Let us be reminded that hunger is caused not due to insufficient production but because of a free-market logic that treats food as a commodity that only those who can afford it can buy. We are witnessing a real-life version of “the hunger games”, disregarding the fundamental right to lead a dignified life.
Just as the ECLAC (UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) announced in 2020, extreme poverty in rural areas could reach 42%, a completely unprecedented figure. According to these estimates, 10 million rural inhabitants – almost 6 million of them women– could face the situation of not having an income enough to cover even the most basic of nutritional needs.
Despite this gloom, during the pandemic, peasant families, fisherfolk, indigenous people, rural workers, seasonal workers and farmworkers working in the fields carried on with their historic task of feeding the people. They continued doing their productive labour, promoting agroecology, solidarity and denouncing the systemic failures that impeded their efforts. They rose to the challenge of meeting the demand for food from the cities, rural communities, and their own families.
An urgent call for the respect of women’s rights and diversities
La Via Campesina demands to ensure all rights of women and peasant communities urgently. It is impossible to keep producing food while amid gross inequalities and terrible working conditions, informal labour, instability, migration, the burden of unpaid housework and care-giving tasks, aside from the difficulty of having fundamental access to land, water, management of natural resources, financing, insurance and training. Peasant women must exercise their fundamental rights and freedom as established in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.
In this sense, we call on everyone to remain on high alert against the serious setbacks experienced by both women and gender non-conforming communities in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Palestine, the Philippines, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kurdistan and Mexico. We also salute and celebrate the struggle and organization of women fighting for their rights worldwide. It is estimated that 87,000 women were victims of femicides committed by partners or family members – 137 women every day. In Latin America, a woman is murdered every two hours simply for being a woman.
“Today more than ever, Food Sovereignty with Peasant Agroecology is our most urgent task. Women and members of the LGBTQIA* community are active on all organizational fronts, but we need our rights ensured to fight against hunger. In Europe, the price of electricity is surpassing that of gold while multinationals selling ‘green energy’ as a solution engage in extensive land grabbing. They do this to install large industrial parks with solar panels and huge windmills that produce energy to be sold at unaffordable prices,” states Sonia Vidal from the Galician Peasant Union, ECVC and the International Women Articulation of La Via Campesina.
“These companies prevent peasants from having access to lands that small-scale food producers would use to produce healthy food to fight against hunger, a need more urgent than ever. Those of us who are producers see our costs skyrocket. And the healthier the food (produced using agroecological methods), the more expensive it is to produce and sell. Food Sovereignty, based on peasant agroecology, is vital to fight hunger,” said Sonia Vidal.
La Via Campesina reaffirms the urgency to protect those who produce food, women, children, and members of the LGBTQIA* community; to preserve our ways of life, customs, traditions, and ancestral knowledge; our territories, food, and food the access to common goods. Societies should demand from the states to stop corporate capture, criminalization, plundering and violence; to stop all processes that make it possible that companies and powerful agents be the ones making decisions when it comes to food.
To stop all violence and inequality, we need to change the capitalist system and work towards diverse food systems with Food Sovereignty, social and environmental justice. We call on everyone from each territory to continue steadfast in the struggle to STOP all violence against women, against gender non-conforming people and the working class.
Join the hundreds of decentralized actions worldwide, watch our Virtual Festival: “Peasant women fighting for rights, against hunger and violence!” on November 23 on our social networks.