On March 8, 2010 and in this 15th anniversary of the World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing, China, we celebrate women worldwide as our leaders, our mentors, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our sources of strength.
What does it mean to celebrate women in this world that is so mired in the multiple crises relating to international development, hunger, poverty and the environment? What does it mean to celebrate women in a patriarchal system of food and agriculture that marginalizes their voice? In fact, we cannot. Until we shift course from our current model of production, women will continue to suffer disproportionately even as we would wish to celebrate them.
They are the majority of the world’s food producers and yet they have the least power. Eighty-five percent of farms that provide agricultural value-added crops to the global market are no more than two hectares and the majority of these are run — but not usually owned — by women, who lack access to land, water and other resources. Women are the main food providers in the world and are responsible for the care of their families in both rural and urban areas. As such, they are at the center of the ongoing global food crisis.
As we talk about solutions for the food crisis from a gender perspective, our approach cannot be to insert them into the global supply chain. Rather what women need most is to have their rights respected in relation to food, health, water, education, housing, land, work, and freedom from sexual discrimination and violence.
It is time for the world to truly celebrate women and get serious about implementing and strengthening their rights. Women are not waiting: We are moving. We are mobilizing for change.