With all the news about the financial crisis that has rocked Wall Street in recent months, the on-going food crisis has become secondary in many news reports. But as we know from the testimonies of our sister organizations, the crisis continues and many are still grappling with food shortages. Yet, in an age in which the food crisis has undermined food security for communities around the world, solutions are readily available. To find them, we need only turn to the people who produced the majority of the world’s food: women farmers.
Earlier this year, MADRE and the leaders of a group of our sister organizations presented these solutions in a letter. We talked about the need for sustainable agriculture, which can help combat climate change, preserve biodiversity and provide enough food for the global population. And women farmers are already at the center of small-scale, organic agriculture worldwide.
You may wonder why we’d include this in our series of blog entries on violence against women. Across the globe, women make up a disproportionate percentage of poor people. Women who lack economic opportunities are vulnerable to manipulation, coercion and violence by those they rely on for financial security. A woman who faces violence in her home is less likely to leave an abusive partner if her economic opportunities are limited. When women are able to ensure a financial foundation for themselves—including in agriculture—they become self-sufficient and better able to avoid abusive situations.
Many of our sister organizations are working to create these alternatives for women. In Sudan, Zenab for Women in Development has created a women farmer’s union, a body that will allow women to demand support for their agricultural projects from the government. This all-women’s union is the first of its kind in Sudan. In Nicaragua, Wangki Tangni runs the program Harvesting Hope, which provides women with seeds, tools and training to run their own small-scale farms and provide food for their families.
These initiatives are changing the lives of the women who participate in them and expanding the range of possibilities at their disposal.
*Picture credit: Elizabeth Rappaport
Previous entries in the 16 Days 16 Entries Series:
- A Village that Banned Violence against Women
- Human Rights Activist Abducted
- Resources on Violence against Women across the Globe
- Women’s Organizing in Colombia
- How Much is a Woman’s Life Worth?
- “One of the Worst Places in the World to Be a Woman”
- On World AIDS Day, Support the Full Range of Women's Human Rights
- Feminist Storytelling
- Defenders Protecting Human Rights with their Lives
- Zimbabwean Women Demand
- Violence against Indigenous Women
- Strange (and Dangerous) Bedfellows
- 16 Days, 16 Entries