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Dear Friends and Colleagues 

Agroecology: A Fundamental Pathway for the Advancement of Women’s Rights

Women represent around 43% of the agriculture labor force. Despite their key role in productive and reproductive spheres of life, women face gender discrimination and a host of social, legal and cultural constraints. A paper produced by the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for Relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) demonstrates that the role of women is of particular importance in the advancement of agroecology, as a key pillar of food sovereignty, and that there are inextricable linkages between the struggles for feminism and agroecology (“Without Feminism, There is No Agroecology”, https://www.righttofoodandnutrition.org/files/rtfn-watch11-2019_eng-42-50.pdf).

The paper puts forward that food sovereignty and agroecology offer powerful alternatives to the unequal and gendered power relations in rural and urban communities and are themselves tools and pathways to overcoming the oppressive structures in which women are embedded. Only through the paradigm of food sovereignty and agroecology will women be able to achieve recognition and validation of their productive work and care; guarantee food for all; socialize the tasks of care; retake collective responsibilities without distinction of gender; and promote relations of respect and equality among all people regardless of gender.

Agroecology can create better opportunities for women on multiple levels: (1) provide diversified role for women in the household economy; (2) create women-only spaces, which are critical for gender equality and women’s self-determination; (3) foster better economic opportunities for women; (4) eliminate the impact of harmful synthetic chemicals on women’s health; (5) affirm women as traditional keepers of seeds and indigenous knowledge; (6) entail the production of food that nourishes the home; and (7) achieve a more just food system.

From a feminist perspective, agroecology is and must be a political proposal that recognizes and promotes the historical and social practices of women. Agroecological practices and policies without the participation of women as central protagonist is not an option. The CSM working Group on Women propose the fulfilment of the following actions by States in order to support women’s struggle for their right to food, autonomy and complete integration in decision-making at all levels:

  • Recognize women’s equal rights in all areas of agroecology, including women’s labor rights, direct access to markets, and income and control over income.
  • Ensure and promote women’s rights to access and control land, water, forests, commons, and especially women’s collective rights to use, exchange, obtain, select and sell their own seeds.
  • Prioritize the implementation of CEDAW General Recommendation 34 (2016) on the rights of women living in rural areas.
  • Adopt laws, programs and policies that recognize and promote women’s experiences in protecting biodiversity and genetic resources.
  • Provide institutional and political recognition at all levels for farmer-to-farmer knowledge networks that are led by peasant and rural women’s movements.
  • Implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security of the CFS, from a perspective that ensures access to these rights for women.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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