Latin American women are working collectively for a common commitment: the protection of rural women's rights. Aware of the importance of joint learning and knowledge sharing to achieve their goals, more than 39 women representing social organizations from 12 countries in the region met at the III Regional Meeting of the Rural Women and Land Rights Initiative of the ILC LAC, held from February 3 to 7 in Duitama, Colombia.
From their diverse national realities, the participants established common objectives to guarantee the right to a life free of violence for rural women in Latin America as a way to also achieve their land rights, as well as to bet on agro-ecology as a political, economic and territorial defence alternative.
They also consider it important to position peasants as political subjects, to make visible the role and work of indigenous women, peasants and women of African descent, and to guarantee the work of women defenders of land and the environment.
WOMEN AND AGROECOLOGY, AN ESSENTIAL COLLABORATION
This meeting allowed women to build a long-term collective political commitment to the agro-ecology initiative. "It was very interesting to come together to think about the importance of politicizing agroecology and the food process, of fighting for the conception of land as a territory. Not only to think about the guarantee of access and property, but also that this guarantee of access to land serves to face the threats of contamination, persecution, environmental or economic risks that communities and women suffer", says Ana María Restrepo, coordinator of the Rural Women and Land Rights Initiative.
After touring the farms of the San Isidro Foundation, the women were especially motivated to learn about the experience of Doña Tulia, a farmer from the Boyacá region who practices agro-ecology, which demonstrated how with a very small piece of land one can cultivate a lot. "I take with me and my organization the importance of working our land regardless of its size. The essential thing is to work for food sovereignty, protecting the seeds, without using chemicals," says Janitzin Gutiérrez of Ecomunnis (Mexico).
In turn, Janeth Salamanca, from the San Isidro Foundation, explained that "it was very important to share and hear that the problem of rural women is not only in Colombia, in other countries they share the same difficulties".
A VIOLENCE-FREE LIFE FOR WOMEN
During the meeting, the participants also built collective knowledge around patrimonial and economic violence against rural women, a topic that is necessary to articulate not only to the work of land rights, but also to the achievement of a life free of violence.
"Violence against rural women can reduce their participation in land production and in the protection and in defence of their territory. Therefore, guaranteeing their right to a life free of violence is crucial so that they can, in turn, enjoy other rights, such as access to land," explains Ana María Restrepo.
For the participants, it was important to reflect on how to articulate this issue with the work they do in their organizations and communities. "Incorporating economic and heritage issues is for us a path to develop that we feel is very important to give greater support to our work", explains Nhelsyr González, from Acción Campesina (Venezuela).
"I will share the knowledge I have learned in order to commit all the activities of my organization to mainstreaming the issue of rural women, which was already present, but with this new knowledge can be better operationalized," explains Adriana.
For her part, Nhelsyr, tells of the challenges that lie ahead after this experience. "It took me a challenge for my country: to work on gathering information about the situation of rural women, which is currently a very unknown issue".
On the other hand, an important aspect for the participants was the agreement to elaborate an Alternative Report on ODS and rural women in Latin America, a tool that allows connecting the local situations of women with the global advocacy processes. This report is a work carried out in alliance between the ODS and Land Rights Initiatives and the Rural Women's Initiative. In this video, Daniela Savid, from the Plurales Foundation, discusses the importance of this report.