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For the Farmers: Women's March on Washington

By: Claire Jordan, Policy and Program Coordinator

January 19, 2017
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety

On January 21, 2017 millions of people will come together in solidarity across the globe as a new administration begins. With 616 sister marches worldwide, the Women’s March on Washington is sure to be an historic event. Here at Center for Food Safety we want to recognize and bring attention to the women farmers we will be marching for on January 21st.

Women account for 60 to 80 percent of small-holder farmers globally, and produce about half of the food on our plates. It has been proven that women farmers worldwide farm on smaller plots of land utilizing more sustainable methods, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Program estimates that global agricultural yields would increase between 2.5 and four percent if female farmers had the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts. Additionally, women farmers are disproportionately impacted by climate change and the resulting effects. It would make sense, then, to provide support and resources to women farmers, but unfortunately women are often left out the dialogue surrounding food security for a growing population.

That is exactly why we want to support the women farmers around the world who are the foundation of our food system. We will be marching for them, but support must also extend beyond marching. We’d like to highlight some organizations, who will be joining us in the streets, and who are advocating and working on behalf of these women farmers every single day.

  1. Women's Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN): “WECAN engages women grassroots activists, Indigenous and business leaders, scientists, policy makers, farmers, academics and culture-shapers in collaboration with the goal of stopping the escalation of climate change and environmental and community degradation, while accelerating the implementation of just climate solutions through women’s empowerment, advocacy at international policy forums, trainings, on-the-ground projects, advocacy campaigns, and political, economic, social and environmental action.”
  2. Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO): “To contribute toward its vision for the world, WEDO’s mission is to ensure that women’s rights; social, economic and environmental justice; and sustainable development principles-as well as the linkages between them-are at the heart of global and national policies, programs and practices.”
  3. Navdanya: “Diverse Women for Diversity is the gender programme of Navdanya which works with local, national and global level. It was founded as a global campaign of women on biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security by Dr. Jean Grossholtz and Ms. Beth Burrows, USA, Dr. Christine von Weizsacker, Germany, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, India. The Diverse Women's Statement of Concern resists monoculture and monopolies and celebrates diversity. Diverse Women for Diversity echoes women's voices from the local and grassroots level to global fora and international negotiations. Its focus is biodiversity, food and water. It seeks to strengthen women's grassroots movements and provide women with a common international platform.”
  4. Heifer International: “Heifer International works with communities to strengthen local economies. Our values-based, holistic and community development approach focuses on: increase income and assets, food security and nutrition, and environment, with women’s empowerment and social capital as the two key foundational elements for change.”
  5. Landesa Rural Development Institute: “Our land tenure experts venture into the fields to speak directly with poor farmers, especially those who are women. We work with government officials at all levels to develop new laws and programs after we’ve invested time researching existing laws and customs and their impact. Our work often starts with an invitation from a country struggling with the task of creating opportunity and a better future for its poorest citizens. There are typically four steps to our engagement: research, design, advocate, and implement.”
  6. Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management (WOCAN): “Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN) is a women-led international membership network of women and men professionals and women's associations. WOCAN was established in 2004 with the objective to address three major gaps that emerge from the knowledge and experiences of sustainable and rural development processes. These are: 
    • policies regarding gender within the agriculture and natural resource management sectors,
    • roles of professional women in implementing policy objectives for rural women’s empowerment and gender equality within these sectors, and
    • organizational barriers that obstruct women from realizing positions of leadership and influence to take on such roles.”
  7. Women Food & Ag Network (WFAN): “Women make up more than half the US population, and own an increasing number of farms. Surveys show that women own or co-own nearly half the farmland in the Midwest. But we are under-represented on the boards of policy-making bodies, and often encounter communications barriers when accessing information from agencies and institutions. WFAN exists so that women can give each other the information, connections, and encouragement they need to be effective practitioners and supporters of sustainable agriculture and healthy localized food systems.”
  8. World Farmers’ Organization: “Women are shaping the rural economy in developing countries- they contribute as farmers, laborers, and entrepreneurs. Recent studies report that the majority of the world’s farmers are women and they cover a wide variety of roles. Yet, what is striking is that women face greater difficulties and constraints than their male counterparts with regards to land ownership, access to credit, markets, technology, seeds, water, information and education and other services. These disparities must be corrected as it is estimated that women produce up to 80 percent of the world’s food. WFO aims to promote the formation and strengthening of women producer organizations and ensure that women have a voice within mixed organizations.”
  9. Farming First: “Women are the backbone of the rural economy, especially in the developing world. Yet they receive only a fraction of the land, credit, inputs (such as improved seeds and fertilizers), agricultural training and information compared to men. Empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods. And not only for women, but for everyone.”

As you gear up to march on January 21st, and to battle injustices that may be exacerbated over the next four years, think about who you want to walk in solidarity for. We are encouraging everyone to show up at the march, and every other day, for the women farmers who are the backbone of our society. Women need to have a place at the table finding solutions for the global food economy. Without their inclusion, we will continue to see the same issues plague our food system and environment. Supporting these groups and ultimately supporting these hardworking women is imperative to solving our shared struggles.

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