Feminism and agroecology: how to overturn the agrifood system?

The food system advances on peoples and territories through land grabbing, harassment and criminalization of peoples’ rights defenders, and displacement of peasants.

In this way, it limits the production of healthy food and the construction of food sovereignty. Factory farming and patriarchy are allied and mutually nourishing insofar as both are based on the domination of one group over the other.

Industrial agriculture, based exclusively on obtaining maximum short-term economic benefit, not only exploits resources and the commons as if they were unlimited, but also relies on the invisible labor of women. Despite the fact that women provide almost 80% of food production in the countries of the South and 50% of global food production, they are the most exposed to the lack of dietary diversity and to hunger, within the framework of economic and gender injustices from which they suffer.

There are currently around 1.6 billion women farmers in the world (more than a quarter of the population), but only 2% own the land they work. 80% of the world’s food is produced on small family farms, where women play a key role in all stages of food production. However, they do not enjoy control of the land and are therefore at the mercy of male landowners.

In addition to caring for crops and caring for family gardens, women also play a fundamental role in artisanal fishing, storage, conservation and reproduction of indigenous and Creole seeds, while also caring for domestic and care work, unpaid jobs.

In the specific case of Spain, rural women suffer from a double invisibility compared to urban women, in addition to the well-known inequality between rural and urban areas, gender implies more discrimination. Data from our country shows it: less than 9% of farms are run by women and among the women working on farms run by men, nearly 60% do not contribute to Social Security. Their work is essential for food production, for the care of common resources such as water or pasture, and yet they are not part of decision-making, neither on the farms nor in politics.

Faced with this situation, rural women have been organizing and claiming their role for some time; Women’s groups like Ganaderas en Red have gained great visibility in recent years. And it is that women not only represent the point of view of oppressed people who denounce pressure, exclusion and exploitation, but also construct reality from different economic practices in the midst of injustice and discrimination.

agroecology, feminism, food sovereignty, women, agriculture, Earth, seeds, market, preserves, family

In this framework, from different women’s groups and Friends of the Earth, we seek to prioritize the sustainability of life over the law of the markets in force. It is about placing environmental and social justice alongside feminism, to show the relationships of cooperation and interdependence between human beings and nature. At this stage, it is necessary to speak of agroecology. Agroecology is feminist because it is based on production relations that respect the environment, as well as on fair and equal power relations between people and territories. At the same time “overcomes many of the dichotomies that reinforce the gender division of labor throughout the food system and make women’s work invisible”.

We know that the only fair and environmentally friendly agrifood system is agroecology. However, the social, cultural and economic model is based on serious problems of inequality rooted in capitalism and patriarchy. To achieve equality for all, for women to be part of a fairer production system and to be able to make their own decisions, system change is needed that leaves no one behind. In this way, we can end the systems that devalue, oppress and exploit women, people and the environment.

Agroecology is one of the main tools for building food sovereignty. A concept created from peoples and communities that seeks to reverse power relations and build from the local, gaining autonomy and democracy, based on cooperation and solidarity. It is therefore an alternative to the globalized economic model. Thus, food sovereignty and feminism are allies and both constitute collective actions that challenge gender roles as well as paradigms of inequality, oppression and exploitation.

A motto that has become increasingly important in recent years to guide our work as Friends of the Earth International, which we share with allied movements such as the World March of Women and La Via Campesina, is: “It there is no agroecology without feminism”. .

For all these reasons, we propose agroecology as an essential, urgent and necessary tool to build food sovereignty and eradicate patriarchy. We raise our voices to make visible and denounce that without feminism, there is no food sovereignty.

You can read the Friends of the Earth International publication here: Dismantling patriarchy (too) with food sovereignty

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