Marching in Paraiba, Brazil – ‘for women’s lives and agro-ecology’
This network, which advocates on behalf of over 5000 farming families, has increasingly assisted women farmers in identifying, highlighting and sharing with others their needs and aspirations in relation to fairer relations and improved rights.
As a result women have been involved in workshops, training and events leading up to the second marcha pela vida das mulheres e pela agroecologica – ‘march for women’s lives and agro-ecology’, as a result of the partnership between AS-PTA and Polo Borborema. This march took place on March 18 2011, and with over 1800 people attending, provided a strong platform for women to highlight their issues.
In Brazil, women play an essential role, in the production, processing and comercialização de alimentos ecológicos, seja na geração emarketing of ecological food as well as disseminating appropriate knowledge to ensure these practices are continued for future generations. This input often goes unrecognised by researchers, other farmers, educators, managers and even their own families. The March in the Borborema region of Brazil, gave women a chance to highlight some of the issues predominantly brought about as a result of living in patriarchal dominated families. These included inequalities including a lack of social mobility, a lack of financial reward or recognition of their work, lack of recreational opportunities as well as issues many face around violence.
In preparation for the march, seven town hall meetings took place in the region with the participation of over 330 women in workshops. A video was specially designed to introduce topics for discussion at these events and this assisted attendees in identifying ways to overcome some of these issues. The information from these workshops was disseminated at a regional municipal meeting in order to construct a collective perception of the women farmer’s issues. This meeting sought to identify a shared way forward in addressing some of the inequalities of social relations and sought ways that women farmers could be more integrated into social, political and economic situations in the region.
In addition to the march itself, a play was used to provoke reflection on the issues the women faced and a number of women showed great courage through providing powerful personal testimonies of the challenges they faced in their own lives and, in some cases how they had overcome these. The day not only provided rural women with a chance to reflect on the issues they faced but provided opportunities to share their experiences and identify ways forward for themselves and their peers in tackling some of these issues. After the march a large public exhibition took place which demonstrated the fruits of the women’s labours. This included an eye catching array of products including plants, seeds, crafts, vegetables and cakes.
It is hoped that this ‘marcha pela vida das mulheres e pela agroecologica’ and the events leading up to it, as well as those planned in future years will continue to strengthen and support rural women in the Borborema region of Brazil, and further afield, bringing about real, long-term change with more equality for rural women and a more inclusive future.
→ Read more on the ii marcha pela vida das mulheres e pela agroecologica
→ See the AS-PTA website